Lowland streaked tenrecs (Hemicentetes semispinosus) are small mammals found in the tropical lowland rainforests on the eastern side of Madagascar island in Africa. Adults have a head and body approximately 4.8 to 6.5 inches in length and weigh between 5 to 9 ounces. These mammals are extraordinary looking with long pointed snouts (they come in handy for snatching earthworms from the forest soil), limbs and a vestigial tail. Their bodies are covered with a mixture of quills and fur, with some quills detachable and barbed for use as a defense mechanism. These animals have a black and yellow striped body.
Lowland streaked tenrecs use various sensory cues including olfactory, visual, auditory and mechanical (touch) signals in communicating. Their communication methods include squeaking, chattering, touching noses, and tongue clicking. They also use the quills in communication especially when threatened or agitated. These animals will stamp their forefeet , rush and head-butt the disturbance source, dislodging its head quills into the attacking source. Of particular interest to researchers is stridulation. This is a form of communication in which the animals rub together specialized parts of the body to generate sound. Tenrecs have a small number of specialized quills on their backs which are rubbed together in quick progression to produce a piercing ultrasonic call. Stridulation is a majorly used communication method during foraging and can also serve as a warning method for predators.
This species of mammals fall prey to Dumeril's boas, Malagasy fossas, civets, and the Malagasy ring-tailed mongoose. Their quills and the use of burrows help to protect these animals from predation. Lowland streaked tenrecs are worm predators since they primarily feed on earthforms, but they also feed on insects and are active during the day and night.
Male tenrecs have been known to fight among one another if females are present for reproduction. Females will put up their quills towards a male when they are not reproductively receptive and will attach their quills in the male's genitals. The males court the females by hissing their snouts in the air. If acknowledged, the males nose the females in the area around the neck followed by nosing them in the cloaca and the females grab their snouts using jaws. Copulation normally occurs during rainy season in Madagascar between November and May and ovulation takes place after copulation.
Female lowland streaked tenrecs are only fertile up to a year after their birth. Gestation takes 55 - 58 days on average and these animals can have as many as 11 offspring. By day 25 after birth, the offspring are weaned and by day 40, adulthood is reached. Female offspring can begin reproduction as from day 25.
Parental care in lowland streaked tenrecs is seen when pregnant females use their snout to clear a depression on the ground within the burrow in preparation for birth. When born, the young tenrecs have tissue around the snout area. The mother will clear the tissue to enable the young ones breathe. The female also cleans and replaces the lining in the nest and they carry the young tenrecs when they wander far from the nest. The male tenrecs allow the young ones to huddle around them, thereby protecting them.