Flamingo Land Zoo column with James Coleman
This week in the zoo the education centre has had an anniversary with our two lesser hedgehog tenrecs Bruno and Raymond have now spent a year within our department.
They were born in August and our zoo manager collected our two brothers from Sparsholt College where there is a breeding group.
They have settled in very well and are now a very popular attraction when it comes to our Meet a Creature sessions, school workshops and also our Outreach programme.
The brothers can be inseparable at times and very regularly sleep and eat next to each other.
These exotic mammals need specialised housing due to the fact that they originate from the tropical island of Madagascar.
There are many different species of tenrecs which are generally split into four sub-family groups, this is because tenrecs all look very different.
The species that we have here at the zoo look very much like hedgehogs, whereas some of the other species of tenrecs look more like mice, shrews or voles.
Some of them are even aquatic and look more like small otters!
Tenrecs are generally found in rainforest areas in Madagascar, though a handful of species have adapted to the arid spiny desert in the South-West of Madagascar.
The aquatic tenrec requires clear running freshwater to survive, other species such as the streaked tenrec have even learnt to adapt around man-induced land such as farmlands and the mole tenrecs are usually found in rice fields.
Our tenrecs are one of the species found in rainforest areas which means they like their home to be relatively warm and humid with lots of places to hide – in their set up here they have a heat bulb and lots of logs to climb up or hide under and we spray the air with water twice a day to keep a nice humidity level as well.
They are omnivores with most of their diet being made up by insects such as locusts, crickets and mealworms which is what we feed them here, they also have cat food and various fruits and vegetables occasionally as well, to make sure their diet is as varied as it would be in the wild.