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tenrec (tĕnˈrĕk), 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 shrew family.

Tenrecs are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Afrosoricida, families Tenrecidae.

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(vertebrate zoology)
Any of about 30 species of unspecialized, insectivorous mammals which are indigenous to Madagascar and have poor vision and clawed digits.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The tenrecs made the list as representatives of Afrotheria, which mammalogists suspect was the earliest of the four major lineages of placental mammals that are still around today.
Some of the 21 species of tenrecs, such as the Madagascar hedgehog (Setifer setosus) and the tambotriky (Echinops telfairi) are convergent with the hedgehogs.
Invasive rodents (rats, including the black rat, mice, and shrews) and endemic rodents (i.e., the tailless tenrec [Tenrec ecaudatus] are present both in rural and urban settings (5).
We collected 378 serum samples from 11 native Tenrecidae (Afrosoricida) tenrecs, 114 samples from 6 native Nesomyidae (Rodentia) rodents, and 471 samples from introduced R.
Tenrecs, which look similar to moles and shrews, were probably the first mammals to arrive on the island, but Madagascar's largest predator is the fossa, which has a cat-like body and a dog-like nose.
FRIENDS ZOO OUR AT DUDLEY CREATURE Heather led a Creature Feature at Cradley Heath Library but came back with an extra hedgehog - although this one won't need food or water like the zoo's lesser hedgehog tenrecs Eccles and Tellie, as it's actually a little knitted hedgehog given to her as a thank-you present!
DUDLEY Zoo's two lesser hedgehog tenrecs Eccles and Tellie are proving popular additions to the animal shows and workshops.
The tenrecs have arrived at Dudley Zoo where staff have been introducing them to visitors during education workshops.