Meet Eccles and Tellie up close

Our two lesser hedgehog tenrecs Eccles and Tellie are proving popular additions to our animal shows and workshops.

The Madagascan tenrecs are starring in our Go Wild! shows, meeting our Little Zoo Keepers and appearing in school workshops after staff got them ready to greet our young visitors.

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ABOVE: Presentation assistant Amy Hickman and Customer Services Team Member Robert Dickie say Eccles and Tellie are a hit with our young visitors 

DZG Customer Services Team Member Robert Dickie, pictured above right and below, has been doing lots of handling training with the pair which, although they look like hedgehogs, are entirely unrelated to the spiny animals.

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Unbelievably, the lesser hedgehog tenrec is really the cousin of elephants, aardvarks, and sea cows and not closely related to hedgehogs at all.

DZG Presenter Dorrie Hall said: “Eccles and Tellie are enjoying meeting our Little Zoo Keepers and school children and the visitors love finding out more about these fascinating creatures.”

Eccles and Tellie, arrived at DZG last year and got their names from their taxonomic title, Echinops telfairi.

Dorrie added: “They are nocturnal creatures, but are very active when they are awake and don’t keep still for very long. They are also great climbers, aided by their sharp claws.

“They are only size of a thumb nail when they are born.”

Tenrecs are an omnivorous species, feeding on vegetables and insects.

Like hedgehogs they have poor eyesight, but their other senses are well developed, especially their whiskers, which are very sensitive.

They use their blonde spines as protection against predators, including the spikes on their small conical tail.

When preyed upon they will roll in a ball and raise and rattle their spines. If that fails, they will charge towards their predator in attack.