Common Tenreks (lat. Tenrec ecaudatus) actually animals are extraordinary. Outwardly similar to a cross between a shrew and a hedgehog, they are part of a large superorder called Afroteria (that is, African animals), which includes elephants, manatees, damans and aardvarks with them. In their homeland, in the Comoros and Madagascar, ordinary tenreks appeared in the process of evolution, filling a niche once intended for these animals.
Ordinary tenreks feel at home wherever it is warm and humid: in tropical forests, savannahs, shrubs and on plains near a reservoir. They are not too sociable and try to avoid meeting with their relatives. These animals are one of the largest insectivores in the world: they grow from 26 to 39 centimeters in length and weigh about 2.5 kilograms. At times, they add variety to their diet by eating mice and frogs.
With the onset of the dry season, from May to September, ordinary tenreks hibernate, moving from their nests under the rocks to safe burrows longer than one and a half meters. Before falling asleep, they tightly cover the entrance to the shelter with earth.
During hibernation, their body temperature drops sharply, and you can even feel it by touch. But it is not recommended to stroke the awake tenrek: it reacts very painfully to the invasion of his personal space, begins to hiss, squeal and can even bite, and his needles are bristlingly puffed.
Often ordinary tenreks are called tailless, but this is not entirely true: they have a tail, but it is very small (about 1 cm) and almost invisible.
Description and distribution
Tenrek Family (Tenrecidae) unites about 30 animals that are very different in type and size: their body length ranges from 4 to 20 cm. Most tenreks, probably from the Cretaceous period, have been living in isolation in Madagascar and during this time managed to form a number of specialized forms similar to animals of other hegraphic areas: an ordinary tenrek resembles American possums, the small and big tenrecks are hedgehogs, long-tailed tenreks are similar to shrews, rice tenreks are similar to moles, the marsh tenreks are similar to moles, otter shrews are similar to otters. Among them there are terrestrial, woody, burrowing and semi-aquatic species.
Head off tenrecks elongated, sometimes with the facial section extended into the movable proboscis. Their body is covered with fur, stiff bristly hair or needles, the forelimbs are shorter than the hind limbs, with 4 or 5 toes on the forepaws and 5 on the hind legs. Semi-aquatic species even have a swimming membrane on their hind legs. The tail length can be from 1 to 22 cm: in some, the tail is rudimentary, in others (long-tailed tenrek), it is 2.5 times longer than the body and has 47 vertebrae (this is more than all other mammals, except for pangolins).
Lifestyle and Reproduction
Tenrecks - Inhabitants of moist forests, shrubs, steppes and swamps, they are active at night and at dusk, spend the day in shelters, eat animal, less often plant food. Tenreks are heterothermal animals, the temperature of their bodies depends on the temperature of the environment, during the dry season they can hibernate for several months. Tenreks breed once a year, but there can be up to 25 cubs in a litter, which develop surprisingly quickly.
Ternek features and habitat
Tenreks are also called bristled hedgehogs. The reason for everything is the external similarity between these mammals, previously attributed to the same family of hedgehogs. But based on modern genetic research, tenrecks To date, it is customary to rank as an independent detachment of afro-soricides.
Scientists suggest that the ancestors of these animals even in the Cretaceous period isolated lived on the island of Madagascar, and since those ancient times they gradually transformed into life forms with a special personality.
Tenreks are archaic in their structure and diverse in appearance, divided into 12 genera and 30 species. Among them there are semi-aquatic, burrowing, arboreal, which in their physiology are vaguely reminiscent of the ancestors of primates, and terrestrial.
In the photo is a striped bristled hedgehog tenrek
Appearance and size of some tenrecks similar not only to hedgehogs, but also to shrews and moles. Others vaguely resemble American possums and otters. Some of them, for example, striped tenrecks, with an unusual appearance, they are something similar to a hybrid of an otter, a shrew and a hedgehog, painted with different colors.
A yellow stripe runs along the nose of these animals, and the body is covered with a mixture of needles, thorns and wool, which especially complements their piquant appearance, giving the appearance a unique originality. The paws of such animals have sharp claws.
The length of the body of the bristled hedgehogs ranges from very small (4 cm) to quite decent (about 60 cm), which once again indicates the diversity of forms of these extravagant creatures. As seen on photo of tenreks, their head is oblong, the skull is narrow and long, the muzzle has a movable proboscis. The whole body is covered with needles or stiff bristly hairs, in some varieties - ordinary fur.
In the photo, an ordinary tenrek
The tail can have a length of 1 to 22 cm, and the front legs are usually shorter than the hind legs. These animals are the original inhabitants of the island of Madagascar. Common Tenrek - the largest representative of this group, reaching a kilogram mass and characterized by the absence of a tail, was also brought to the Mascarensky.
Seychelles and Comoros. Although rare, similar animal forms are also found in East and Central Africa. Tenreks prefer to live in marshy areas, bushes, steppes and moist forests.
An interesting feature of the physiology of these animals is the dependence of body temperature on weather and environmental conditions. The metabolism of these archaic creatures is very low. They do not have a scrotum, but the cloaca enters the device of their body. And some varieties have poisonous saliva.
The nature and lifestyle of the turner
Tenreks are timid, timid, and slow creatures. They prefer darkness and begin to show activity only at dusk and at night. In the afternoon, they hide in their shelters, which these animals find for themselves under stones, in the hollows of dried trees and in burrows.
An ordinary tenrek hibernates during the dry season, which lasts in its habitats from the end of April to October. The indigenous population of Madagascar traditionally eats many types of large bristled hedgehogs, tenrecks ordinary including. And dishes from these animals are quite popular.
So much so that some restaurant owners keep the hibernated tenreks in drawers, using them to prepare delicacies as needed. The chewing muscle of the bristled hedgehogs is especially famous. The deadly enemies of striped tenreks are often representatives of the fauna of the island of Madagascar, such as mongooses and fosses - great lovers of feasting on animal meat.
For protection from predators, this species of bristled hedgehogs uses its own natural weapon - needles located on the head and sides of creatures with which they shoot at the paws and nose of the enemy, having previously taken a special stance and making sharp muscle contractions.
Needles also serve these original animals to transmit valuable information to each other. Such special instruments are capable of producing a peculiar sound of certain tones during friction, and the relatives easily accept and decode the signals.
Terneks also use clapping tongues for communication. These sounds, not perceived by the human ear, enable bristled hedgehogs to obtain information about the world around them, using it for their own safety and movement in the dark.
Striped tenrecs, unlike their other relatives, are social animals, uniting in groups. A bunch of bristly brethren lives in a single family, in a hole equipped with them, which usually digs near a suitable source of moisture.
These are very neat and careful creatures. They close the entrance to their home with leaves, and for natural needs only go to designated areas outside the public home.
In the cold times that come in May, striped tenrecs hibernate, but only in harsh winters, and the rest of the time they remain active, but lower the body's temperature to the level of the environment, which helps them save energy. In this state, they are until October.
Most species of bristled hedgehogs eat plant foods, mainly fruits of trees and shrubs. But there are exceptions to this rule. For example, an ordinary tenrek is a predator, consuming many types of invertebrate animals as food, as well as small animals, such as insects, and small vertebrates.
In search of food, these creatures, like pigs, dig their stigma in the ground and fallen leaves. In nurseries and zoos, such exotic animals are usually fed with fruits, for example, bananas, as well as boiled cereals and raw meat.
Propagation and longevity of terneck
The breeding season in bristled hedgehogs occurs only once a year, and the female feeds her offspring with her own milk, which babies get from 29 nipples of the animal. This is a record number for mammals.
In most species, for example, in striped tenreks, mating occurs in the spring. Bearing the litter lasts about two months, and after this period cubs appear. There are species of bristled hedgehogs that are not famous for their special fecundity, while others, on the contrary, bring up to 25 babies at a time.
But ordinary tenreks, which are especially distinguished by records in this matter, can have much more (up to 32 cubs). But not everyone survives in nature. The female, when the kids grow up, is engaged in their upbringing, leading to independent searches for food.
At the same time, children line up in columns and follow their mother. Entering a difficult struggle for existence, most of the babies die, and no more than 15 remain from the whole brood. The beautiful protective mechanism granted to babies by nature is the needles that grow back from them soon after birth.
In times of danger, in a fright, they are able to emit special impulses that the mother catches, which gives her the opportunity to find and protect her offspring. Striped tenrecks bring in one litter from 6 to 8 cubs, which quickly grow and develop.
And after five weeks they themselves are able to have offspring. The age of the bristled hedgehog is short-lived, and their life span is usually from 4 to 5, up to a maximum of 10 years. However, in captivity, under favorable conditions, they are quite capable of stretching for much longer: up to a dozen.