Tonawanda News — Early in January, I alluded to the fact that I wrote a children’s book last year titled “A Tenrec Named Trey: And other odd lettered animals that like to play” (Amazon: $15.99) but forgot to mention one very important thing. It left readers asking: “What is a tenrec?
Well, it is an animal, that is for sure. A very unique animal from a mysterious island off Africa, famously cartooned by DreamWorks and called Madagascar. Some tenrecs resemble small shrews, while others look like miniature or giant hedgehogs. Some have modified hairs, like hedgehogs, which is why many people either pass them off as hedgehogs or as hedgehog relatives. Their faces are cuter/uglier than hedgehogs, with tiny beady eyes and a long snout.
Tenrecs are actually more closely related to elephants, manatees and aardvarks then they are to hedgehogs. Many hedgehog enthusiasts actually keep two of the 34 species of tenrecs as pets. To make it even more confusing, though, the tenrecs species that are kept as pets have been named the lesser or greater hedgehog tenrec (using the word hedgehog to describe their spiny hairs).
To learn more about tenrecs, I asked a WNY native who has raised and bred tenrecs for longer than a decade.
Pat Storm was born in Buffalo and then moved to Town of Tonawanda, Sanborn, Lockport, East Amherst, Newfane, Pendleton, Wheatfield and finally North Tonawanda. I feel like most of the readers were Pat’s neighbors at one time or another.
While living in North Tonawanda, she received her first hedgehog. After a few years, Pat purchased three greater hedgehog tenrecs and then lesser hedgehog tenrecs. She currently is the secretary of the International Hedgehog Association.
“I was at a hedgehog show when someone brought in some greater hedgehog tenrecs. I was immediately attracted to them,” Storm recounted. “They are very like hedgehogs, yet very different. I decided that I would research them and someday get myself one as a pet or maybe a trio to breed.”