Echinops telfairi (Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec)

Overview of Tenrecs

The family name Tenrecidae, common name Tenrecs, is a family of mammals endemic to Magagascar and parts of Africa. They occupy the same ecological niche as hedgehogs would do, and are often used as an example of convergent evolution.

The most common Tenrec in the pet-trade is the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec which would naturally live in Madagascar in forests, savanna, shrubland or grassland. They are similar in appearance to the hedgehog, with some differences including a short spine-covered tail. They measure from 5 - 6.8 inches and typically weigh around 130-200g. Pet tenrecs have a good lifespan at between 7-10 years.

Terecs do not reproduce readily in captivity, producing only one or two litters a year. Gestation is 60-70 days with weaning at 3-4 weeks of age.

Unlike African Pygmy Hedgehogs Tenrecs can be housed together if female, although you can only have one male per cage. They benefit from a more arboreal habitat than hedgehogs, being excellent climbers. Branches, cork tubes and stumps make excellent additions to their setup. They must have a hide to sleep in during the day.

Tenrecs need a heat source such as an overhead heat lamp or ceramics. They will be very active during the summer months but enter a state of brumation or torpor during winter months. This differs from hibenation as there are different metabolic process involved. Whilst in this state they will eat very little and once out of brumation they will eat extra to offset this.

Tenrecs are insectivores and so this should form the majority of their diet. Items such as crickets, earthworms, locusts, mealworms, roaches, slugs, snails and waxworms. The remaining 10% of their diet should consist of fruits such as apricot, banana, papaya, and peaches. Other items to offer include fruit yoghurt, hard-boiled egg, pinkies and day old chicks. A pinch of a calcium supplement should be added to livefood.

Tenrecs are very confident animals and can make excellent pets. They have very very distinct characters and are easy to handle.