Nutritional requirements for a captive Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec is fairly simple. This is an area that will evolve over time. Good results have been achieved feeding a various mix of dry cat foods, a variety of bugs such as mealworms, wax worms and scrambled eggs. Some folks also feed crickets, cockroaches and hissing roaches. A variety of different foods may be necessary throughout the year. Their appetite and tastes can change with the seasons and as they become torpid. During this time they have a very small appetite and their body temperature can drop. This helps them to conserve energy. Special care will need to be taken during this period to make sure they are remaining hydrated and at least nibbling on some food. When offering your tenrec food, it should be lightly dusted with a calcium powder.
Mealworms / Superworms
We do encourage you to start your own mealworm/superworm farm. It is actually a very simple process and is quite rewarding. For one or two tenrecs you won’t need to large of a farm. By doing this you will be assured that the mealworms your pets are eating have been fed the proper diet and you are providing them with good gut loaded nutrition.
Housing for the tenrec may be very simple or quite elaborate. A nice choice would be a reptile aquarium with a couple of different substrates on each side (pine, sand, bark, coconut fiber). They enjoying climbing on branches and like to hide in caves. If you provide them with a dish of sand, they will use it to roll around in to take a sand bath and clean their faces. If you leave the sand box in there at all times, most will end up using it as a litter box. Tenrecs also enjoy running on wheels where they receive quite a bit of exercise.
Another great option for housing is the Critter Nation cage. It is a very nice size cage with horizontal bars for your tenrec to climb on. The bars are only spaced 1/2″ apart so escaping should not be an issue. There is quite a bit of space in this cage so you will have plenty of room for toys, wheels, natural bedding and hiding spot.
Whatever type of housing you choose, a water bowl is required. I have never had a tenrec willing to drink from a water bottle, they all have only drank from bowls.
Most individuals keep their tenrecs between 70 and 75 degrees. During their torpid time it is my opinion that the cooler temperature is the best. Once they start to wake from this brumated state, I like to keep my tenrecs at the higher temperature. They can become very active during the summer months and seem to enjoy the higher temps.
One Tenrec or Two?
Tenrecs are solitary animals, but have done well in small groups. Males must be kept by themselves. I’ve also had good luck keeping females in small groups.
Please do your research prior to considering owning one of these little guys. They are pretty easy to care for, with a few caveats! A wonderful Facebook group that has tons of information is called Everything Tenrec. They have alot of care information in the files and also the group members are very helpful.