Echinops telfairi (Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec)

Torpor in Tenrecs

Torpor is a natural part of a tenrecs life and happens every season. This is also called brumation and will happen in the colder months, typically beginning Sept/Oct until Feb/March in the northern hemisphere. Torpor will still occur in captivity even if kept at a constant temperature (22°C - 26°C) and with a light cycle.

It is important to monitor your tenrec's weight before and during torpor - especially if it is their first one. Some keepers keep young tenrecs at a higher temperature than adults to ensure a light torpor. Tenrecs' weight can range very widely, with 110-200g considered a healthy range depending on the animal. 

As torpor begins, you will notice your tenrec eating and moving less. You are still fine to handle them during this time and when awaken by the warmth of your hands you may be able to encourage them to eat a small amount but it is not unusual for them to stop eating entirely for patches of this time. They will be moving slower and be far less active than during the summer months. Their body temperature will be lower than during their active months, with a belly that is cold to the touch. Due to the energy cost involved, it is better if handling to let them simply sleep on you and not try to force them to be more active unless there are health concerns.

Males often have a lighter torpor than females, so may have more patches of activity of waking to eat and drink. Even so, this will be in much smaller amounts than during the active months.

For those used to torpor being a danger in other exotics, torpor in tenrecs can be rather stressful initially. It is important however not to discourage them from entering this state, as it is not known how preventing them from this natural rhythm would impact on health and life expectancy.