Tenrec Facts for Kids

Instructor: Mary Grace Miller

Mary Grace has taught first grade for 8 years and has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and is licensed in ESL.

What in the world is a tenrec? Tenrecs are cute little animals that look a lot like hedgehogs. This lesson will teach you lots of interesting facts about them, like what they look like, where they live, and what they eat!

What Are Tenrecs?

Tenrecs are fascinating little mammals! Yes, they have fur, give birth to live babies, and are warm-blooded - those qualities are what makes them mammals. But did you know that they also have the same ancestors as aardvarks, elephants, and manatees?

What do Tenrecs Look Like?

This tenrec is called a lesser hedgehog tenrec.
tenrec

There are about 30 different types of tenrecs that all look a little bit different, but they most closely resemble hedgehogs, and many of the species have hedgehog in their names. Like hedgehogs, they have long noses and sharp prickles on their skin called quills. Tenrecs also have really short tails, only about half an inch long, and their bodies are about seven inches long. They are usually yellowish, but can be other colors too.

Where do Tenrecs Live?

Tenrecs can be found in parts of mainland Africa, but most of them live on the island of Madagascar. Depending on the species, they can live in lots of different places, like grasslands, forests, or even the hollows of trees.

Many tenrecs live in forests in Madagascar like this one.
forest

Tenrecs are nocturnal, so they sleep during the day and are awake at night, when they eat and socialize. In addition to sleeping during the day, they have a hibernation time called torpor, where they stay in their cozy dens and nests in trees for months at a time, usually when it's cold outside.

What do Tenrecs Eat?

Some people think tenrecs are insectivores that only eat bugs, but actually, tenrecs are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. They do mostly eat small animals like worms, or bugs, but they can also eat plants like fruits and veggies and even eat animal eggs when the parent isn't watching them.

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