“The Secret Life of the Striped Tenrec: Madagascar’s Striped and Spiky Marvel”


“The Striped Tenrec: Madagascar’s Peculiar Creature Resembling a Cross Between a Hedgehog, a Porcupine, and a Zebra – Sporting a Mohawk!

Just look at that incredible ‘hairstyle’! Photo Credit: Alan Harper

Found only in Madagascar, the Lowland Striped Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) is known for its unusual appearance, as well as its peculiar behaviors and adaptations.

This adorable little creature (averaging 140 mm or 5.5 inches) is covered in spikes all over its body, which it uses for protection against predators. But the most notable feature of the striped tenrec’s appearance is its yellow or chestnut brown stripes running all over its body atop its black spiky fur, making it look like it’s wearing a tiny zebra costume. It’s hard not to smile when you see a striped tenrec scampering about with its cute stripes.

A tenrec sniffing something. Probably a earthworm. Photo Credit: Charles Hesse

Now, onto some of the most interesting behaviors of the striped tenrec. One of the most unique things about these animals is their ability for echolocation. That’s right, just like bats, striped tenrecs use sound waves to navigate their surroundings and find prey. They produce clicks with their mouth and then listen to the echoes to determine the location of their prey.

Additionally, the stridulating sounds produced by their specialized quills have also been linked to an echolocation function. It’s like they have their own little built-in sonar system!

Hello, a tenrec is coming! Photo Credit: Frank Vassen

Before giving birth, a pregnant female will dig a depression in the ground within the burrow, using her snout as a shovel. To deter potential predators, the striped tenrec will display its spines. If forced to confront another species, it will employ a forceful headbutt aimed at immobilizing its adversary.

The lowland striped tenrec is active both day and night and primarily feeds on earthworms, although it may also consume other invertebrates. To aid in foraging, it occasionally stamps its front feet on the ground, believed to enhance earthworm activity. Like other tenrecs, it possesses a long snout suited for digging in the soil to locate its food. However, the consumption of earthworms by the striped tenrec can lead to tooth corrosion due to the dirt’s tendency to cause scratches and pits.

A bunch of spikes and a mohawk. Photo Credit: Thierry Cordenos

The striped tenrec is definitely a fascinating and adorable little animal deserving of more attention. But not too much attention, of course. So if you ever find yourself in Madagascar and come across one of these little creatures, just don’t get too close, or you might find yourself on the receiving end of some of those black and yellow spikes!”

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