Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec

STATUSLeast Concern


DIETinsects, bird eggs, small vertebrates, and occasionally fruit

RANGERange: South and Southwestern Madagascar

HABITATDry Forests, Shrubland, Grassland

Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec

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Physical Description

Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrecs is a small species that will only grow between five to seven inches long. Their body is covered in sharp spines that are a modified hair. They use these spines as defense against their predators.


They are commonly preyed upon by birds of prey, snakes, and other carnivores.


Lesser Tenrecs live between five to ten years but can live longer under human care.


The Lesser Tenrec is a solitary animal and will hunt and forage alone except for a mother and her young. They will mate during the warmer season so that their young are born when there is plenty of food. Females will give birth to one to ten young. The growth and development of a Lesser Tenrec is fast, and they will be independent a month after being born. During the colder months when food is scarce, they will burrow underground and go through a state of inactivity, torpor. Torpor, like hibernation, is when an animal will decrease their heart rate, respiration rate, and temperature to conserve energy.

Fun Facts

  • There are over thirty species of Tenrecs and most of them live in Madagascar.
  • They are not closely related to hedgehogs, opossums, or shrews. While they look like those animals, they are part of the scientific superorder Afrotheria. They are closer in relation to several African mammals such as elephants and aardvarks rather than opossums and hedgehogs which are classified in a different superorder.
  • Convergent Evolution is the process by which animals evolve similar solutions to similar problems. Tenrecs and Hedgehogs both have spines, but this is a case of convergent evolution. Another great example of convergent evolution is echolocation in bats and whale. Both animals use sound waves to hunt, communicate, and navigate their surroundings since their habitats are difficult to navigate by sight.

Conservation Messaging

While the Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec is considered Least Concern by the IUCN Red List, the island of Madagascar is losing 1-2% of its forests each year. Dry forests are the main habitat for the Lesser Tenrec and as deforestation and unsustainable agriculture continues in their habitats, their populations will be at risk.

Supporting sustainable agriculture is one of the best ways we can help tenrecs and other animals that are losing their habitats. By purchasing products that are certified by organization such as Bird Friendly Coffee, you are helping forest and habitats around the world.

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