Wild Fact #334 – Small But Feisty – Lowland Streaked Tenrec
Today, I am going to ask you the age old question – What would happen if you were to cross a Hedgehog with a Bumblebee? What do you mean this isn’t an age old question? Well, it should be! And the answer would probably be, the Lowland Streaked Tenrec. Obviously, they are not actually a cross between a bee and a hedgehog but they definitely have a similar appearance to both, don’t they? Instead, they are a small insectivorous mammal that looks a lot like many animals including hedgehogs, mice, shrews and even opossums as a result of a little thing known as convergent evolution. But let’s find out what makes this mix-bag of animals even more unique, shall we?
You have probably heard the sound of crickets while going for your evening walk and you most likely know that they make this unique sound by rubbing their hind legs together. This type of communication is known as stridulation and is not a popular communication method in mammals, however, the Lowland Streaked Tenrec is the first mammal, and perhaps the only, to use this unique form of communication. Unlike crickets, they don’t actually rub their legs – Instead, they use little spines on their back, which produces ultrasonic sounds. Yes, that means the human ear is incapable of picking up these high-pitched frequencies being sent underneath the forest litter. But it didn’t stop us from recording it! Check it out:
Pretty cool, eh?
The Head-Butting Tenrec
Unlike other species of Tenrec, the Lowland Streaked Tenrec prefers to live in groups consisting of up to 15 immediate family members. This close knit group will cuddle together in their burrow before going out and foraging for worms and other tasty treats. Most of their active time will occur the early morning or late evening hours of the day. If the Lowland Streaked Tenrec is threatened by a predator during their outing, they will give fair warning to their would be assailant by raising the spikes surrounding it’s head and stomping their feet. If this doesn’t work, they will rush their attacker in an attempt to head-butt them, which generally leaves the predator with a face full of quills. This Tenrec may be tiny, but they sure are feisty. I would be a little nervous approaching this little mammal, even if they do look like a cute Bumble-Hedgehog.