Meet Penn & Teller
Area: The Island of Madagascar
Habitat: Forests, dry savanna, shrublands, and grasslands
Size: 5 - 7 inches, and weigh about 7 ounces
Tenrecs are terrestrial which means they are ground dwelling but can also climb! Unlike most mammals tenrecs have a cloaca, like a bird or reptile, which is a urogenital opening. Tenrecs have poor eyesight and depend on their good sense of smell and hearing to survive. They may look like hedgehogs but actually aren't related to them at all! They are the cousins of aardvarks, elephants, and manatees!
Tenrecs are nocturnal. They spend the daytime hours resting under a log or in a hollow tree, and spend the night time hours foraging for food. In hot weather tenrecs sleep with their body extended but curl up into a ball to sleep in cold conditions.
Tenrecs enter a state of torpor in the winter time. Torpor is a state of decreased physiological activity in an animal, usually by a reduced body temperature and metabolic rate. Torpor enables animals to survive periods of reduced food availability. Tenrecs are normally torpid for 3-5 months.
Tenrecs have a spiny coat that is used to deter predators and is vibrated for communication with other tenrecs. When threatened they will roll into a ball, hiss, and grind their teeth. If a predator bites a tenrec the spines will stick into the mouth and muzzle of the predator. Not a very enjoyable snack!