This spiky little uncommon critter can only be found in Madagascar and is called the Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus). The most notable physical feature are the quills. The overall effect is like someone used a mouse as a pin cushion and decided it might look cuter painted to look a bit like a bumblebee. They’re small little guys at only 4.8-6.5 inches (12.2-16.5 cm) in length. The tenrec is built low and cool for sniffing around on the ground with its short limbs and long snout.
When in danger, barbed quills on the back of its neck point forward, and then it rushes its attacker giving them a rather violent session of involuntary facial acupuncture. The unbarbed quills on the back vibrate to produce a faint clattering sound used to communicate with family members. This type of “talking” is called stridulation, like when crickets rub their legs together, but the lowland streaked tenrec is the first mammal to use this method. And there’s a lot of chatter in their households as they have large families, which can consist of up to 15 members. When not going out, they like to all stay home and cuddle as a group.
The streaked tenrec is active during day and night, feeding primarily on insects. It likes to search the ground while stomping its feet to get things underneath the dirt to squirm and make themselves known. The long snoot works well for poking into the ground and under leaves in search of their creepy crawly cuisine. Though some species of Tenrec’s live in the water, and have been known to dine on small fish and frogs. Certainly an upgrade from wriggly worms.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham watercolors: Azo Yellow, Azo Orange, Dioxazine Purple, Pyrrol Red, Cobalt Teal, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal