Lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs have spines that cover their back and sides. They have softer hair on their face, legs, and belly. Individuals vary in color from light to dark brown.
Lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs weigh 4-7 ounces (113-225 grams) and grow between 5.5 and 7 inches (14-18 centimeters) in length.
In the wild, lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs are opportunistic feeders eating much of what they find foraging on the ground. The main part of their diet consists of small invertebrates, like insects and larvae. They will also eat fruit and other small animals, such as baby mice and bird eggs. At Cosley Zoo, the tenrec eats a combination of vegetables, fruits, insects, mealworms, earthworms, hard-boiled eggs, and a processed insectivore (insect-eater) diet.
Mating begins when lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs emerge from torpor, usually in October. After a gestation period of 61-68 days, a litter of one to ten relatively undeveloped young are born. The babies grow quickly, however, and become independent after only one month.
Tenrecs are found in the arid regions of southern and southwestern Madagascar, where they live both on the ground and in trees in dry spiny forests (habitats unique to Madagascar) and open grasslands. During the day, tenrecs shelter in tree cavities.
Lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs can live up to 8-10 years in the wild, and about 13 years in human care.
While lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs are currently a species of least concern with stable populations, habitat loss is a great threat to most tenrec species. The island of Madagascar loses thousands of hectares of forest each year to logging and slash-and-burn agriculture.