Common Name: Lowland Streaked Tenrec

Scientific Name: Hemicentetes semispinosus

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Insectivora

Family: Tenrecidae

Genus: Hemicentetes

Species: H. semispinosus

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The Hemicentetes semispinosus, better known as the lowland streaked tenrec, is about 160 to 190 millimeters long, not including their tail. It weighs about 7 ounces (adult size). The lowland streaked tenrec is black with yellow stripes down its back. Its crown is yellow which fades to black the closer you get to its nose. The tenrec’s underbelly is a chestnut brown color. The lowland streaked tenrec has several unique characteristics that you can identify it by. The first is its black nose which is longer than other types of small sized insectivores—i.e. hedgehogs, mice, shrews, etc. The other unique characteristic is its black coloring with yellow striping.

 

Lowland streaked tenrec’s usually live in rainforests in Madagascar only. They also live in brushland habitats. They live very well in these areas because they blend in with the foliage. The lowland streaked tenrec’s burrow is usually located near a stream with lots of bush and undergrowth around for cover. Tenrecs are one of the few insectivores to live in groups. They dig a burrow 1.5 meters long and 15 centimeters deep plugging the doorway with leaves. Up to as many as 20 tenrecs (from the same family) will often live together.

 

It is unknown how many lowland streaked tenrec’s there are in the world today. In Madagascar, tenrecs are as common as rats and mice are in the United States. It is also unknown if the tenrec’s population is growing or shrinking. There is nothing contributing to a change in this population because there have not been any disease outbreaks or any sudden drop or overpopulation of the insects in the areas where tenrec live. During mating season, the males will fight over the females. Afterward, the male tenrec will usually begin by smelling the head and back of the female prior to mating. There is usually only one litter per year and each litter is usually about 10 babies.

 

I would say that the lowland streaked tenrecs are carnivores because their diet includes mainly earthworms. Their body helps them to search out and find food. They use their long and slender nose to get the earthworms living in the roots of grasses or under leaves. Unlike all other tenrec’s and some insectivorous, lowland streaked tenrec’s have very good eyesight and hearing. Their competitors for food are other tenrecs and insectivores. The lowland streaked tenrec’s main predator is Homosapiens (AKA humans). For many thousands of years, the people of Madagascar have considered tenrec’s to be a good “food source”.

 

The tenrec’s unique defensive mechanisms must make it a challenge for many to eat though. When a predator is near, the tenrec will make a noisy “crunch” and a “putt-putt” sound. While doing these noises, the long hairs on their back become stiff and stand up straight poking and jabbing into the predator. If the predator moves back away from the hairs (spines), it gives the tenrec a chance to flee, which they can do very quickly.

 

Some interesting facts that I discovered about the tenrec’s are mostly about the young. If a young tenrec gets separated from its mother, it can rub its spines together making a noise which will be heard by its mother. Another interesting fact is that the lowland streaked tenrec’s might slightly “jump” when someone is trying to touch them, which makes the spines impale you. I also find it very amazing that though they have those tough, sharp spines on their backs, they have a soft underbelly.

 

Author: Nate O

Published: 02/2007

 

Sources:

“Tenrecs of Madagascar.” 8 Feb. 2007 http://www.wildmadagascar.org/wildlife/tenrecs.html. “Streaked Tenrec.” 10 Feb. 2007 http://www.americazoo.com/goto/index/mammals/35.htm. “Madagascar: Amazing Wildlife (Part 2).” 2 Feb. 2007 http://www.travelafricamag.com/vonyrny/view/145/56/. “Hemicentetes semispinosus (streaked tenrec).” 9 Feb. 2007 http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hemicentetes_semispinosus.htm