Dust Bath with a Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec

Even for Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs, self-care is so important. This little fellow is taking a dust bath and scent-anointing (rubbing the new scent into his spines). Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Keepers give tenrecs novel scents and substrates as enrichment to encourage this natural behavior. In the wild, scent can be used as camouflage and parasite repellent!

Meet and greet amazing Smithsonian National Zoo animals at Brew at the Zoo on Sept. 8. Get up close to an adorable tenrec who looks even more adorable taking a dust bath. Tickets include unlimited beer & cider tastings, a souvenir glass & live music. Link to purchase tickets: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/events/brew-zoo

Three Wee Tenrec Tykes Born at Paradise Wildlife Park

Ten 3 curled

The UK's Paradise Wildlife Park announced the birth three Tenrec babies! Born to mom Maisy on the 10th of July, these prickly little balls look a lot like Hedgehogs... but are, in fact, completely unrelated! They have simply evolved the same method of defense, which is to roll up in a ball so that predators are met with only their outer coat of prickles. This is called convergent evolution, a process by which organisms not closely related independently evolve to have similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.

Tenrecs hail from the island of Madagascar but can be found in areas on the African mainland as well. They live and forage for food up in the trees, so they are particularly good climbers. They tend to be omnivorous, the largest part of their diets being comprised of invertebrates. Most species are nocturnal; while their eyesight is not that sharp, their other senses are very well developed. Their whiskers are especially sensitive, aiding them as they move around branches and leaves in the dark. 

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Photo Credit: Paradise Wildlife Park

The new babies are in the farmyard section and can often be seen out and about by lucky guests.

See more pictures of the Baby Tenrecs, after the fold:

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A Handful of Baby Tenrecs

In late June, the WCS Bronx Zoo welcomed two baby Lesser Hedgehog Tenrecs. While they might look like hedgehogs, and even have hedgehog in their name, they are actually a totally different family of mammals. Tenrec species come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with some looking like hedgehogs, some like mice, and some even like otters!

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Baby tenrecs bronx zoo 3

Photo credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS Bronx Zoo

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.

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One cup of baby tenrec please

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Photo credits: Dr. Tara Harrison / Potter Park Zoo

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