Lowland streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus)

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Lowland streaked tenrec fact file

Lowland streaked tenrec description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderAfrosoricida
FamilyTenrecidae
GenusHemicentetes (1)

An extraordinary-looking family, the tenrecs exist only in Madagascar and have a greater diversity of form than any other family of insectivores. Members of the subfamily Tenrecinae look like a cross between a shrew and a hedgehog, with long, pointed snouts and spines amongst their fur. The lowland streaked tenrec is a medium-sized, slender tenrec, which closely resembles juvenile common tenrecs (Tenrecs ecaudatus) (3). It is blackish-brown with yellowish stripes running the length of the body and a yellowish band running from the crown to the tip of the snout. It has detachable, barbed spines which are most numerous on the crown. The underside is chestnut-brown with soft hairs (6).

Also known as
Streaked tenrec.
Size
Length: 16 – 19 cm (2)
Weight at birth: 8 g (6)
Weight
90 – 220 g (5)
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Lowland streaked tenrec biology

Unusually for tenrecs, the lowland streaked tenrec is active both at night and during the day, and is the only species to form groups. It remains with its family, numbering up to 20 individuals in each burrow (2). They may forage together amongst the leaf litter for earthworms and other soft-bodied invertebrates, using their long snouts to delve into small spaces (5). During the winter (May to October), tenrecs can drop their body temperature to nearly that of the surroundings, but still remain active. This conserves energy, but in the coldest weather they must hibernate (6).

Nesting in burrows 1.5 metres long and 15 cm deep near a stream or water body, the lowland streaked tenrec covers the burrow entrance with leaves and often creates a latrine site nearby (3). Mating takes place between September and December, and young are born after a gestation of 55 – 63 days. The female gives birth to between two and eleven young, averaging six in each litter. Females are reproductively active at a young age, sometimes breeding at just five weeks (2).

Mothers and young communicate by stridulating – they vibrate specialized quills on their mid-dorsal region creating a low-pitched noise. These tenrecs also make ‘crunch’ and ‘putt-putt’ sounds, particularly when agitated. If threatened, this species will raise the spines around the neck and buck the head violently to attempt to lodge the barbed spines into the attacker (3).

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Lowland streaked tenrec range

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Lowland streaked tenrec habitat

Found in lowland and mid-altitude rainforests and scrubland (2).

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Lowland streaked tenrec status

The lowland streaked tenrec is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Lowland streaked tenrec threats

Like many Madagascan species, the lowland streaked tenrec’s greatest threat is habitat loss, as deforestation continues across the island. All tenrec species are thought to be at risk from disturbance by tourists, reducing the value of protected areas (4).

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Lowland streaked tenrec conservation

The lowland streaked tenrec occurs in Ranomafana National Park as well as Analamazaotra Special Reserve (3). The survival of this species, as of many other Madagascan species, is linked to the conservation of Madagascan forest habitats. Many conservation projects focus on forest preservation, and their success will ultimately determine the fate of the lowland streaked tenrec.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on tenrecs see: Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex.

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Authentication

Authenticated (22/06/05) by Nick Garbutt, zoologist and author.

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Glossary

Insectivores
Small, primitive and typically nocturnal mammals that feed on insects.
Invertebrate
Animals with no backbone.
Subspecies
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2012)
    http://www.redlist.org
  2. Animal Diversity Web (May, 2005)
    http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hemicentetes_semispinosus.html
  3. Garbutt, N. (2005) Pers. comm.
  4. Stony Brook University – Mammals of Ranomafana National Park (May, 2005)
    http://info.bio.sunysb.edu/rano.biodiv/Mammals/Hemicentetes-semispinosus/
  5. Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex.
  6. Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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Image credit

Portrait of lowland streaked tenrec  
Portrait of lowland streaked tenrec

© Nick Garbutt / www.photoshot.com

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