Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec
Animal Class: Mammals
Length: 5-7 inches
Weight: 7 ounces
Life Span: 7-9 years average
Diet: Tenrecs are omnivores eating mostly insects, eggs, and spiders but also occasionally fruits
Habitat: Native to the dry forests and semi-deserts of southern and southwestern Madagascar
While tenrecs and hedgehogs are in different taxonomic orders, the lesser hedgehog tenrec is named for its physical resemblance to the hedgehog. Sharing morphological traits with another animals adapted to a similar niche is referred to as “convergent evolution”. The general appearance between the two animals is similar: small, stout bodies with spines and a small tail. The spines are modified hairs that provide protection. When threatened, they will curl up and muscle contractions will cause the spines to stand aloft. The hedgehog tenrec unlike a hedgehog will, however, uncurl and attack an animal threatening a powerful bite. Coloration of the lesser hedgehog tenrec can vary from a pale, almost white to dark almost black depending on the amount of melanin in the quills. The most common coloration, however, is a yellowish buff. While spines cover the dorsal body surface from forehead to tail and down the sides, the tenrec’s belly, face and legs are covered with sparse, soft hair.