Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec

The Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec, (Echinops telfairi), is a species of mammal in the Tenrecidae family. It is the only member of its genus and is endemic to Madagascar. Its habitats are subtropical and tropical dry forests, dry savanna, subtropical and tropical dry shrubland, and subtropical and tropical dry lowland grassland. It is named in honor of Irish botanist Charles Telfair.

This is a small, stout-bodied animal 5 to 6.8 inches long and weighing about 7 ounces. It is similar to a hedgehog, hence its name. However, it has no relation to hedgehogs. The tail is short, the limbs and muzzle are moderate in length, and the ears are prominent. The entire back is covered with sharp spines. The coloration is typically yellow-beige, but individuals can range from near white to almost black.

This tenrec is both terrestrial and arboreal. It feeds on insects mainly, but occasionally will also take in other small invertebrates and small vertebrates. It usually forages alone, except for a mother caring for young.

During the daytime it spends its time resting under a log or in a hollow tree. In hot weather, it sleeps with its body extended but otherwise lies in a curled position. It hibernates through the winter. Breeding typically occurs in October, but ultimately depends on when warm weather arrives in the springtime and on the availability of food. Gestation lasts 62 to 65 days, after which the female gives birth to between 1 and 10 babies (7 is most common). The young are weaned at 18 to 22 days of age.