Other name(s): Lesser Madagascan Tenrec; Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec; Pygmy Hedgehog Tenrec
Scientific name: Echinops telfairi
The Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec is a small species of insectivore which is native to Madagascar. Tenrecidae (common name Tenrecs) is a family of mammals found on Madagascar and parts of Africa. Although they resemble animals such as shrews and hedgehogs, Tenrecs are not closely related to any of these groups. Instead, their closest relatives are other African insectivoran mammals such as golden moles and sengis (also known as elephant shrews).
Because they do not breed very readily, raising only one or two litters at most per year, the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec has not yet become a popular pet.
Appearance / health:
The Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec's natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, dry savanna, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, and subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland. It is both terrestrial and arboreal, spending daytime hours resting under a log or in a hollow tree.
Insects and fruit.
Unique, Fun Pets, funny things
night hours. span
following diet daily, hibernation, slow reproductive capabilities, Licensed tenrec breeders
Tenrecs at the zoo
I took care of 6 pygmy hedgehog tenrecs at an accredited zoo's education department over a total of 8 years.
These were always favourites of mine and I did look into acquiring some for myself, but at that time they were prohibitively expensive and very difficult to find from breeders. They were even still being imported from Madagascar to meet the zoological demand.
These tenrecs are among the easier zoo charges I kept. A pair would exist happily in a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium (tight-fitting screen lid) with a heat pad on the outer bottom. A layer of newspaper on the bottom, with a piece of driftwood and a stone for hiding places and a pile of shredded paper for bedding was all that was needed for them. They are excellent climbers so be sure to weigh the screen lid down well (they won't climb the glass, but can climb driftwood and other objects).
A small, sturdy ceramic bowl is suitable for water, though they will rarely drink from it. A small, flat plate is best for food. We fed the following diet daily: 1/2 tsp chicken baby food, 1/2 tsp beef baby food, 1/2 tsp fruit baby food (per animal daily); 4-6 crickets per animal weekly, and alternate day feedings of mealworms, superworms, and baby Madagascar hissing cockroaches (we always had a surplus).
Keep their ambient temperature warm -- they don't like cold air or cold drafts, and you may find it necessarily to heat your home to a somewhat uncomfortable (or unaffordable) temperature of 80F+ to keep them healthy. Drafts and cold weather can induce a sort of tarpor and inactivity that can kill them.
They live single or in pairs without much difference in activity. The captive bred animals we had were easily handled. The spines are not sharp enough to be a deterrent to any for the softest hands. The claws are very sharp but should not be trimmed unless they are overgrown (and rough climbing objects in the exhibit should eliminate that problem). Wild caught animals were, unsurprisingly, not as accommodating to handling -- they have an incredible capacity for tenacious biting if they feel threatened, and they don't like to let go.
Tenrecs have two peculiar habits when they encounter an unfamiliar scent, or the scent of another tenrec. First, they secrete a milky substance from their eyes which makes it look as though their eyes have gone completely white. This gets rubbed on nearby objects and they sometimes get a little aggressive when they do this. Second, they self-annoint, like hedgehogs. They salivate copiously, and then bend their body half around to lick the resulting foamy saliva all over their sides and back. We found that when they do this, they are best left on their own until the event is well over. Washing the hands well with scent-free soap may help a lot in preventing this when handling.
Provided they are captive bred and well-socialised, they could easily be very good pets -- just keep in mind their needs for warmth, their general lack of activity (particularly in the daytime -- these guys are expert sleepers and always look like they just woke up!), and their ability to bite, and they would make great pets. They breed seasonally and are not very prolific, so their cost is still high and they are still difficult to find. Also, within USA be sure that it is legal to own them and that it is legal to bring them into your township/ county/ state (check all levels) because the legality on owning insectivores such as tenrecs (which will likely be classified legally as hedgehogs, even though they are not)can vary wildly and inconsistently across jurisdictions..
From bnaqqimanco Jun 30 2013 8:05PM