- History and Culture
Tenrec ecaudatus is a relatively small mammal measuring between 26 and 39 centimeters and weighing between 1.5 to 2.5 kilograms. Its pelage or fur colour varies geographically from grey to reddish-grey and it has long, sharp spines along its body. Its forelimbs are longer than its hindlimbs. It has a cylindrical skull and elongated snout which helps it feast on insects. Despite being sometimes known as the tailless tenrec, they have a small tail 1 to 1.5 cm in length.
The tailless tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus) or common tenrec is a species native to Madagascar. The species was reportedly introduced to Mauritius around the end of the 17th century, and also introduced to other Indian Ocean islands namely Comoros, Reunion and Seychelles.
The tenrec can be found in a diversity of subtropical and tropical habitats ranging from dry forest, moist lowland forest or moist montane forest, savanna, dry or moist scrubland, cultivated areas, rural gardens and urban areas. Its diet consists mainly of small invertebrates and occasionally mice and frogs as well as some vegetation and fruit. They use their snout to probe fissures in rocks and logs and detect prey with their whiskers, capturing and killing prey with their mouth.
Being solitary animals, males and females usually come into contact only very briefly prior to mating. Nests made of grass and leaves can be found under logs, rocks or bushes. After a gestation period of 50 to 60 days, females give birth to a litter of 15 to 20 individuals. The young will start foraging with their mother at around three weeks and carry nest materials in their mouth. Juvenile tenrecs have black and white stripes on their backs, which they will shed after approximately 36 days.
The species is common in its native and introduced range and is listed as “Least Concern” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
In its native Madagascar, the tenrec hibernates during the cooler months in a one to two-meter-long burrow. During the active months, its burrow is smaller and Y-shaped with two openings. It is an important food source for inhabitants of Madagascar and is also enjoyed in Mauritius.