It’s time to meet one rather prickly customer! One of Oreo’s smallest friends is Thistle the tenrec, and he’s positively bristling with excitement to meet your acquaintance!
That’s right – Thistle is a tenrec. Be honest, when you saw his picture, did you mistake him for a different animal? Perhaps…a hedgehog? It’s true that some tenrecs do resemble hedgehogs, but remarkably, they’re not from the same family. Tenrecs are quite a fascinating species, actually – they can resemble many animals, from shrews to mice to otters, but they aren’t actually closely related to any of them! You won’t find a single hedgehog wandering about the islands of Madagascar where tenrecs like Thistle come from – isn’t nature weird?
Anyway, Thistle would like us to make it very clear that he is most definitely not a hedgehog. He’s actually very sensitive about it, and doesn’t even like us to use the ‘H’ word around him! He wants everyone to understand that he’s ‘far too special and unique to be mistaken for something as common as a hedgehog.’ (Personally we think that hedgehogs are just as cute as tenrecs, but try telling him that.)
In a way, though, Thistle is right – tenrecs and hedgehogs are different. For a start, there are differences in their appearances – hedgehogs are a little larger, have a different face shape, and tend to come in a wider variety of colours. Tenrecs like Thistle do have quills like hedgehogs do, but the muscle structure that controls them is far less complicated, so they don’t tend to be quite as sharp and pointy! Thistle’s quills feel like bristles rather than needles, so he’s a little more comfortable to hold than a hedgehog would be. These tenrecs can roll into a ball when scared, but they tend to vibrate their spines as a warning, rather than make that clicking sound that hedgehogs make. There are loads more differences, but if it were up to Thistle we’d be listing them all day!
Generally, Thistle is a pretty happy, friendly little chap when he’s not being mistaken for a hedgehog. He likes to climb and cling to your fingers with his muscley little legs! He adores mealworms, but is quite partial to crickets and bananas too. His favourite pastime is spreading tenrec awareness, and making sure everyone knows that he’s definitely not a hedgehog. If you want to find out how special Thistle is for yourself, you’d better head over to that contact page and make an enquiry!