We recently had the great fortune to become "parents" to four of these little cuties! I had been looking for them for a very long time, and have to thank Sharon Massena for making my dream come true! They came to us via US Airways on April 28, 2001. We hope to obtain a fifth (a male) from High Country Hedgies in the fall.
Tenrec are insectivores, and therefore "cousins" to the African Pygmy Hedgehogs that Hedgehog Valley has become famous for. Looking at the tenrec, you can see that the quills are similar, as is the pointy little face. The setifer setosus have face more like a shrew, and the way they waddle makes me think a little of how a platpus moves. Don't let their funny little shuffle fool you, though- these guys are FAST when they want to move. I won't be taking them outside for any photo sessions!
One thing that immediately impressed me about the tenrec is their feet. They have amazing little graspy toes, not at all like the little paddy feet that my hedgehogs have. Tenrec are amazing climbers, and amazingly agile climbers, at that!
Tenrec are quite the foragers. Their quick, shuffling movement makes them well suited to hunting bugs and small critters at night. According to the natural observation data I could find, they also eat vegetable matter. So, we feed them the same base food as our hedgehogs, and also offer a variety of meat and fruit/veggie treats. One is a real piggie when it comes to frozen mixed veggies, as you can see!
Another thing about tenrec that sets them apart from hedgehogs is their scent. They have a definite musky odor. It isn't at all like a ferret, though. It reminds me a little of, well, fritos. I rather like it. Tenrec are not as easy to sex as a hedgehog. We've been told we'll have to fondle the bellies on all four til we figure out which one has a bump that feels different than the others. That one will be the male. We've also been told that they secrete musky stuff from the eyes when they are in season, particularly the males.
The tenrec are amazingly docile. They are quite nocturnal, and will move about freely when the lights are out. The instant the lights go on, they freeze and seem to be trying to sink into the background. I can easily see how they could blend into the underbrush in the wild. Their native habitat is listed as scrub forest.
I hope you have enjoyed these pictures, and that we'll be able to share more information and pictures as we learn more about our new prickly buddies!
Added 5/5/01: Grub's Page: See more pictures of the tenrec- this page belongs to the one we've named Grub. Several pictures show her doing the tenrec version of self-annointing!
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Last updated 5/5/01.
Last updated 5/5/01.