Curtin, Charles B. Department of Biology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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An insectivorous mammal of the family Tenrecidae and indigenous to Madagascar. The tenrecs constitute the insectivorous mammalian family Tenrecidae. There are more than 30 species of tenrecs in 10 genera. Based on taxonomic revisions, the tenrecs (family Tenrecidae) and the golden moles (family Chrysochloridae) have been combined into the order Afrosoricida. Formerly, these animals were assigned to the now-abandoned order Insectivora. The tenrecs are nocturnally active and feed on insects, worms, and mollusks. All tenrecs are essentially primitive, unspecialized mammals (see illustration), with poor vision. The digits are clawed, and the first digit is not opposable to the others. Some species, such as the tailless or common tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus), become dormant during the hot dry season. The largest tenrecs are 30–40 cm (11.8–15.75 in.) in length. Their body is covered with a mixture of hair, spines, and bristles; the tail is rudimentary; and the toes may be separate or webbed, depending on the species. These animals exude a strong, offensive odor. The dental formula is I 2/3, C 1/1, Pm 3/3, M 4/3 × 2 for a total of 40 teeth. Tenrecs are adapted to climbing and swimming. The female is prolific, with litters of 12 to 20 young, and has 22 mammary glands to feed the offspring. See also: Dentition; Hibernation and estivation; Insectivora; Mammalia; Scent gland
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