5 Incredible facts about the lowland streaked tenrec

The strange-looking insectivore that looks like a cross between a hedgehog and a shrew. This black and yellow striped Madagascan native uses its quills to communicate like no other mammal on the planet


It’s one of a kind

The lowland streaked tenrec rubs specialised spines on its back together to produce low-pitched sounds – a form of communication known as stridulation. Insects like crickets are known for stridulating by rubbing their legs together, but the lowland streaked tenrec is the only mammal with this ability.


Tongue clicking is also used to communicate

Stridulation is not the tenrec’s only form of communication. This feisty mammal will click its tongue to make sounds that ward off intruders. This may also be a form of echolocation, although more studies still need to be carried out to determine if this is true.


It likes to headbutt its opponents

This creature’s head is covered in a crown of yellow spines. These can be used as camouflage when the animal is foraging for food, but also act as a form of defence. The lowland streaked tenrec will warn off predators by raising these spines, but if it feels threatened, it will rush at its attacker and headbutt them at full force.


It can drop its body temperature

Lowland streaked tenrecs are active during the day and at night. During the winter, they can drop their body temperature so that it is almost the same as the environment they are in, but when it becomes too cold, these mammals go into torpor. This means they can go in and out of a deep sleep to survive when temperatures drop and food is limited.


Their family is diverse

Tenrecs can only be found in Madagascar, and are believed to have evolved from a single ancestor on the African mainland 60 million years ago. The 25 or more species of tenrec make up an incredibly varied family – it is thought that this is because they were one of very few mammals to become established on Madagscar, so they were free to diversify and fill many different niches.


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Image from www.flickr.com/photos/stuutje