Status: Least Concern
Range & Habitat
Few species are found in Central Africa, they are most diverse in Madagascar where roughly 30 species can be found. The Lesser Tenrec is found in southern and south western Madagascar. Generally found in forest habitats like the eastern rain forests.
Such traits include nocturnal activity patterns, small body size, abdominal testes, poor eyesight and a dependence on their sense of smell and hearing. They are also considered primitive physiologically, since all species have relatively low body temperatures and metabolic rates relative to their body size, and several species enter torpor regularly. Torpor; which is like hibernation, can last from 3 to 5 months. While in torpor the tenrec have a lower body temperature and metabolic rate are greatly reduced in an effort to conserve energy. Torpor is driven by ambient temperature and food availability; hibernation is associated with day length and hormone changes.
Tenrecs will stay in a family group during their lifetime. Since growth and maturation happens so quickly there may be three or more generations of tenrec in one family group. These small mammals are adapted to fill the role of mice, hedgehogs, shrews, and opossums found in other parts of the world.
All Species have generally long gestation lengths than can take up to eight weeks. A lesser tenrec will have up to 10 young per litter.
Tenrec's diet is based primarily on invertebrates. Insects and their larvae are the most commonly consumed prey. However larger tenrecs may eat some small vertebrae, such as amphibians.
Habitat loss is the largest threat to tenrec species. The Madagascar forests are continually being taken down for slash and burn agriculture. Other threats include introduced species of different shrew, and carnivores. In 2003, Madagascar's President Marc Ravalomanana committed to triple the island’s protected area coverage, adding a further 5 million hectares, and placing more than two-thirds of the country's remaining forest under formal protection.