Causes of Mortality in Captive Lesser Hedgehog Tenrecs (Echinops telfairi)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012
Tara M. Harrison1,2, DVM, MPVM, DACZM; Scott H. Harrison3, PhD
1Potter Park Zoo, Lansing, MI, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA; 3North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, NC, USA


Tenrecs are common as both educational and exhibit animals. The causes of mortality for various species of tenrecs have not been published, aside from a few reports of neoplasia.1-3 A retrospective survey of causes of mortality for lesser hedgehog tenrecs (Echinops telfairi) in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) zoological institutions was conducted. Twenty out of 32 institutions responded with data for 139 living and 92 dead animals. In response to the survey, 26% (60) of the tenrecs were female, 29.4% (68) were male, and 44.6% (103) were unknown gender. Tenrecs in this survey ranged in age from 0 days to 18 years old, with average ages of 3.7 years and 6.4 years for living and deceased tenrecs, respectively. Causes of mortality included neoplasia, cardiomyopathy, hepatic lipidosis, renal disease, pneumonia, septicemia, osteomyelitis, and trauma. Neoplasia was the most frequent primary cause of death for 18.5% (18) of deceased tenrecs. Additional frequent causes of mortality included cardiomyopathy, hepatic lipidosis and septicemia, all respectively at 7.6% (7). Gender was a notable factor in the overall analysis; male tenrecs were 4.8 times more likely than female tenrecs to have died from cancer (p≤0.05). Results from this retrospective survey will assist in preventive medicine, diagnosis, and treatment of lesser hedgehog tenrecs.


The authors thank the Dallas Zoo, Denver Zoo, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, Fort Worth Zoo, Henry Doorly Zoo, Houston Zoo, John Ball Zoological Garden, Minnesota Zoo, Oakland Zoo, Philadelphia Zoo, Potter Park Zoo, Riverside Zoo, Roger Williams Park Zoo, San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium, Seneca Park Zoo, Toledo Zoological Society, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Virginia Zoological Park, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Wild World Zoo and Aquarium for participation in this survey

Literature Cited

1.  Bilyk, O., and T.M. Harrison. 2011. Evaluation of neoplasia as a cause of mortality in captive tenrecs (Echinops telfairi). Proceedings of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. Pp. 6.

2.  Harrison, T.M., P. Dominguez, K. Hanzlik, J.G. Sikarskie, D. Agnew, I. Bergin, S.D. Fitzgerald, B.E. Kitchell, and E. McNiel. 2010. Treatment of an amelanotic melanoma using radiation therapy in a lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrec (Echinops telfairi). J Zoo Wildl Med 41:152–157.

3.  Khoii, M.K., E.W. Howerth, R.B., K.P. Carmichael, and Z.S. Gyimesi. 2008. Spontaneous neoplasia in four captive greater hedgehog tenrecs (Setifer setosus). J Zoo Wildl Med 39:392–397.


Speaker Information
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Tara M. Harrison, DVM, MPVM, DACZM
Potter Park Zoo
Lansing, MI, USA

College of Veterinary Medicine
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI, USA

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