Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mammals that chirp like crickets?!

Photo credit: Arto Hakola
Tenrecs are a family of mammals found in Madagascar and some parts of Africa.

Similar to the way that marsupials have diversified to fill a variety of ecological niches in Australia and New Guinea, tenrecs vary widely in body form and occupy a range of habitats. Some species have adopted otter-like forms, while others resemble shrews and hedgehogs.

The Highland and Lowland Streaked Tenrecs fall within the hedgehog type and are armed with barbed quills. These animals primarily feed on earthworms and take shelter in narrow burrows.

One interesting feature of the Streaked Tenrecs is that they are the only mammals known to communicate using stridulation. This type of communication is generally associated with insects and snakes, but although tenrecs lack wings and scales, they are still able to accomplish this using a second specialized type of quill that is arranged in rows along their back.  See a video here:

Even though tenrecs are sometimes hunted for food, the IUCN reports that Streaked Tenrecs are thriving and seem to be affected little by human disturbance:

You can learn more about Lowland Streaked Tenrecs here:

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