Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tailless Tenrec

Tenrec ecaudatus
Today's animal is native to Madagascar, and has been introduced to the Mascarene Islands. But happily, unlike some of the other critters we've talked about this week, the Tailless Tenrec is not on the verge of extinction! These interesting little mammals actually have a stable population, no major threats, and a wide range.

So now that we've got conservation status out of the way, what on Earth is a Tenrec?! The answer is... interesting. Tenrecs are members of that weird African Superorder known as Afrotheria. Their hodgepodge of relatives includes Elephants, Manatees, Hyraxes, Aardvarks, and Sengi. Tenrecs themselves look a bit like shrews or opossums, and some species even resemble Hedgehogs. This is due to convergent evolution-- Tenrecs evolved to fill the ecological niches that were normally filled by the aforementioned creatures. They May look alike and act alike, but they aren't actually related!

The Tailless Tenrec is the largest of the land-dwelling Tenrecs. They actually do have tails, despite the name, though the tails are very, very short. They look a bit like a Shrew crossed with a Hedgehog, and the younger Tenrecs even have spines to protect them while they grow up (adults have long, coarse hairs).

The Tailless Tenrec is one of the largest insectivores in the world. They detect prey with their long whiskers (they are nocturnal), and capture it with their mouths. Aside from insects, they do also feed on small vertebrates and plants.

You will only really see these Tenrecs in groups during a  few times each year-- during the breeding season when males attract mates, and after the young are born when females are taking care of their offspring. They are very solitary otherwise. Tailless Tenrecs can have massive litter sizes-- up to 32! The young are helpless for the first week or so, but they grow fast and will be on their own after about 5 weeks. They reach sexual maturity around 6 months of age.

Tailless Tenrecs communicate in a number of different ways. When threatened, the ridge of hair on their back rises up. They also hiss, squeal, and even scream!

IUCN Status : L:east Concern
Location : Madagascar, Mascarene Islands
Size : Length up to 15in (39cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Afrosoricida
Family : Tenrecidae -- Genus : Tenrec -- Species : T. ecaudatus

1 comment:

  1. Hello! My is E.M. Schwab. I have a blog called 100 most Unknown Animals ( and i was wondering if you have any suggestions for any unknown animals. Also if you would be able to promote my site, I will happily do the same for you,

    E.M. Schwab


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