Torpor and hibernation in a basal placental mammal, the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec Echinops telfairi

J Comp Physiol B. 2008 Aug;178(6):691-8. doi: 10.1007/s00360-008-0257-9. Epub 2008 Mar 27.


The patterns of heterothermy were measured in Lesser Hedgehog Tenrecs, Echinops telfairi, under semi-natural conditions in an outdoor enclosure during the austral mid-winter in southwestern Madagascar. The animals were implanted with miniaturized body temperature (Tb) loggers (iButtons) that measured body temperature every 42 min for 2 months (May and June). The tenrecs entered daily torpor on all 60 consecutive days of measurement, that is, on 100% of animal days, with body temperature closely tracking ambient temperature (Ta) during the ambient heating phase. The mean minimum daily Tb of the tenrecs was 18.44 +/- 0.50 degrees C (n = 174, N = 3), and never exceeded 25 degrees C whereas, apart from a few hibernation bouts in one animal, the mean maximum daily Tb was 30.73 +/- 0.15 degrees C (n = 167, N = 3). Thus during winter, tenrecs display the lowest normothermic Tb of all placental mammals. E. telfairi showed afternoon and early evening arousals, but entered torpor before midnight and remained in torpor for 12-18 h each day. One animal hibernated on two occasions for periods of 2-4 days. We consider E. telfairi to be a protoendotherm, and discuss the relevance and potential of these data for testing models on the evolution of endothermy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal
  • Body Temperature*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Eulipotyphla / physiology*
  • Hibernation*
  • Madagascar
  • Seasons
  • Sleep*