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When Is a Hedgehog Not a Hedgehog?

When it's a tenrec! Although the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec sure looks like a hedgehog, it's actually a very different animal. The tenrec family comprises animals that look like hedgehogs, opossums and even otters, but are actually a great example of convergent evolution. Isolated from many other would-be mammalian competitors in Madagascar for millions of years, the humble tenrec evolved into many different species filling niches commonly occupied by a wider variety of mammals.

This little fellow was born at the Potter Park Zoo in Michigan on June 24th to one of the only breeding females in the United States.

Tenrec baby potter park zoo 1 rs

One cup of baby tenrec please

Tenrec baby potter park zoo 3 rs

Tenrec baby potter park zoo 4 rs

Tenrec baby potter park zoo 6
Photo credits: Dr. Tara Harrison / Potter Park Zoo
Potter Park Zoo Announces Tenrec Birth
LANSING, MI --- Potter Park Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec.

The baby was born on June 24, 2009 to one of the only breeding females in the United States.

The recent Tenrec birth brings the zoo’s population to five. The latest arrival will join the zoo’s four other tenrecs, Sonia, Denise, Debbie, and Chaser, as a part of the Potter Park Zoo’s educationanimal collection. The Potter Park Zoological Society’s Docent Association works primarily with the education animals to teach zoo guests about wildlife. All five tenrecs will be housed at the zoo’s Discovery Center and are currently not on exhibit for the general public.

Lesser Hedgehog Tenrecs are native to Madagascar, where wild populations are steadily
decreasing due to habitat loss. Although similar in appearance, the Tenrecs are smaller in size than the hedgehog they derive their name from. The Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec is the tiniest mammal at Potter Park Zoo. The number of Tenrecs in the United States is limited and Potter Park Zoo has one of the few breeding females.
This latest birth is one of several new arrivals to the Potter Park Zoo Society’s education animal collection. During the last several months the program has seen the arrival of six new animals including, a porcupine, Raven, Red Tail Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Screech Owl and a Kestrel.