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(tĕn`rĕk), any of the small insectivorous mammals of the family Tenrecidae, also called tendrecs or tanrecs. These animals are found on the island of Madagascar. In that closed environment they have evolved diverse forms, filling various ecological niches occupied by other small mammals elsewhere.

There are about 30 tenrec species, classified in 8 genera. The common tenrec, Tenrec ecaudatus, is one of the world's largest insectivores. It is tailless, with a body length of 12 to 16 in. (30–41 cm). Its coat is a yellow-brown mixture of hair, bristles, and spines. The hedgehog tenrec, Setifer setosus, resembles a true hedgehog. The short-haired rice tenrecs, genus Oryzorictes, are molelike animals whose tunneling causes much damage in rice fields. The long-tailed tenrec, Microgale longicaudata, is mouselike in size and appearance, with a tail two and a half times its body length, and it is able to jump. The water tenrec, Linmogale mergulus, is a rat-sized aquatic animal with webbed feet and a keeled tail. The streaked tenrecs, genus Hemicentetes, make ultrasonic calls by rubbing specialized spines on their backs together.

All tenrecs are nocturnal, most hibernate in the winter, and many are dormant in hot weather. They live on a diet of small animals, chiefly worms and insects. Females have as many as twenty-two teats and give birth to litters of fifteen to twenty young.

The giant water shrews of the central African forest belong to the subfamily Potamogalinae (sometimes considered a family, Potamogalidae) of the Tenrecidae. These animals are otterlike in appearance and way of life, with fine fur and a laterally compressed tail. Other animals called water shrews are members of the true shrewshrew,
common name for the small, insectivorous mammals of the family Soricidae, related to the moles. Shrews include the smallest mammals; the smallest shrews are under 2 in. (5.1 cm) long, excluding the tail, and the largest are about 6 in. (15 cm) long.
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Tenrecs are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Afrosoricida, families Tenrecidae.


(vertebrate zoology)
Any of about 30 species of unspecialized, insectivorous mammals which are indigenous to Madagascar and have poor vision and clawed digits.
References in periodicals archive ?
Living in Madagascar's desert, the lesser hedgehog tenrec is among the few mammals that fall into metabolic torpor during the day but snap out of it the evening.
The variable body temperature is one of several traits that the NHGRI panel notes as making the lesser hedgehog tenrec an interesting contrast to the other Afrotherian about to get sequenced, the elephant.
So, these are the glory days for placozoans, lesser hedgehog tenrecs, choanoflagellates, Oxytricha ciliates, and such.
MacPhee thinks the fossilized tooth he and his team found may have belonged to an animal related to tenrecs, animals that live on Madagascar, a large island off the eastern coast of Africa.
Jackson and her assistant, Dawn Mazzagetti, showed children an opossum from the woods of Maine, a kinkajou (honey bear) from the African jungle, Tango the parrot from Brazil, Cujo the python from Asia, tenrecs from Madagascar, and Spike and Bob, two alligators originally from Louisiana.
The tenrecs have arrived at Dudley Zoo where staff have been introducing them to visitors during education workshops.
Although similar in appearance to a hedgehog, tenrecs are an entirely unrelated animal and are native to Madagascar.
Many animals, including baby mice, bats, porpoises, shrews and the shrewlike tenrecs of Madagascar, are almost constantly producing sounds.