Tenrec

TenrecTenrec — Tenrecidae (common name tenrecs) is a family of mammals found on Madagascar and parts of Africa. Tenrecs are widely diverse, resembling hedgehogs, shrews, opossums, mice and even otters, as a result of parallel evolution. They can occupy several environments including aquatic, arboreal, terrestrial and fossorial. Some of these species can be found in the Madagascar dry deciduous forests, including the Greater Hedgehog Tenrec.

Tenrecs are small mammals of variable body form. The smallest species are the size of shrews, with a body length of around 4.5 cm, and weighing just 5 grams, while the largest, the Common Tenrec, is 25 to 39 cm in length, and can weigh over a kilogram. Although they may resemble such animals as shrews, hedgehogs, or otters, they are not closely related to any of these groups, their closest relatives being the golden moles of southern Africa.

All species appear to be at least somewhat omnivorous, with invertebrates forming the largest part of the diet. Most species are nocturnal and have poor eyesight. Their other senses are well developed, however, and they have especially sensitive whiskers. As with many of their other features, the dental formula of tenrecs varies greatly between species; they can have anything from 32 to 42 teeth in total.

Tenrecs have a gestation period of from 50 to 64 days, and give birth to a number of relatively undeveloped young. While the otter shrews have just two young per litter, the Common Tenrec can have as many as 32, and females possess up to 29 teats, more than any other mammal. At least some species of tenrec are social, living in multi-generational family groups with over a dozen individuals.

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