African Insectivores | Afroinsectiphilia

The African Insectivores, or Afroinsectiphilia, is a proposed subdivision of insectivores native to the African continent. The proposal includes otter shrews, golden moles, tenrecs, and even aardvarks. Many species are omnivores and still possess most of their primitive features. Many are also small, for example, the golden mole, and are characterized by small eyes and ears, long snouts, clawed toes, and primitive teeth. They rely mostly on their hearing and smelling senses, as their touch and vision are not well-developed. Afroinsectiphilia prefers forests, mountainous terrains, or deserts with many living a solitary life. Females give birth to live young ones.

What is unique about shrews?

Most shrews have poor vision because they have small eyes that are sometimes covered by skin. But their sense of hearing and smell is excellent. Even so, the unique thing about them (or in certain species) is that they can echolocate. This is a technique they use to locate food other than determining or interpreting what is happening in their surroundings.

Are moles blind?

No, but their vision isn’t good because they are colorblind and nearsighted. Even so, these small eyes are very good at detecting light. Moles also have good smelling abilities and possess ears that are nearly invincible. These features make them well suited to the environment they live in.

Is a tenrec a good pet?

We can find the tenrec in Madagascar. It resembles a hedgehog because of its size, quills, and excellent climbing skills, but is more related to elephants and aardvarks. This petite size and physical profile may make you think of them as good pets. However, they are not that friendly and they can bite hard if manhandled.

African Insectivores Guides
Browse through our curated African Insectivores Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of African Insectivores. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.

African Insectivores

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Aardvark
267700
23.6”-29.9” | 60-76 cm
11”-13.4” | 28-34 cm
41.3”-51.2” | 105-130 cm (Body)
88-176 lb | 40-80 kg
15-30 years
Aardvark
76.000
34.000
130.000
80.000
30.00
267700
3D
Aardvark
5.7”-7.5” | 14.5-19 cm
3.3”-4.5” | 8.5-11.5 cm
9.1”-11.8” | 23-30 cm (Body)
1-1.54 lb | 450-700 g
4-5 years
Black & Rufous Elephant Shrew
19.000
11.500
30.000
0.700
5.00
320
3D
Black & Rufous Elephant Shrew
5.9”-7.7” | 15-19.5 cm
4.3”-5.7” | 11-14.5 cm
8.7”-11.4” | 22-29 cm (Body)
1.4-2.9 oz | 40-83 g
2-6 years
Cape Elephant Shrew
19.500
14.500
29.000
0.083
6.00
240
3D
Cape Elephant Shrew
1.6”-2” | 4-5 cm
1.6”-2” | 4-5 cm
3.9”-4.7” | 10-12 cm
.9-1.7 oz | 25-47 g
3-4 years
Cape Golden Mole
5.000
5.000
12.000
0.047
4.00
180
3D
Cape Golden Mole
2”-2.6” | 5-6.5 cm
1.2”-1.6” | 3-4 cm
3.1”-3.9” | 8-10 cm (Body)
.9-1.1 oz | 25-31 g
1-4 years
Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi
6.500
4.000
10.000
0.031
4.00
300
3D
Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi
3.1”-3.9” | 8-10 cm
3”-3.5” | 7.5-9 cm
7.9”-9.4” | 20-24 cm
.9-1.2 lb | 410-540 g
3-4 years
Giant Golden Mole
10.000
9.000
24.000
0.540
4.00
1820
3D
Giant Golden Mole
3.3”-4.3” | 8.5-11 cm
2.75”-3.7” | 7-9.5 cm
10.6”-13.8” | 27-35 cm (Body)
.88-1.72 lb | 400-780 g
3-5 years
Giant Otter Shrew
11.000
9.500
35.000
0.780
5.00
300
3D
Giant Otter Shrew
3.3”-5.3” | 8.5-13.5 cm
2.75”-4.3” | 7-11 cm
5.9”-9.1” | 15-23 cm (Body)
.39-.77 lb | 175-350 g
8-13 years
Greater Hedgehog Tenrec
13.500
11.000
23.000
0.350
13.00
310
3D
Greater Hedgehog Tenrec
2”-2.75” | 5-7 cm
1.8”-2.75” | 4.5-7 cm
5.1”-7.1” | 13-18 cm
.25-.56 lb | 113-255 g
5-19 years
Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec
7.000
7.000
18.000
0.255
19.00
850
3D
Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec
2.2”-3.1” | 5.5-8 cm
1.6”-2.4” | 4-6 cm
4.7”-6.7” | 12-17 cm
.28-.62 lb | 125-280 g
2-2.5 years
Lowland Streaked Tenrec
8.000
6.000
17.000
0.280
2.50
2550
3D
Lowland Streaked Tenrec
3.3”-4.1” | 8.5-10.5 cm
2.2”-2.75” | 5.5-7 cm
4.3”-5.1” | 11-13 cm (Body)
1.4-1.9 oz | 40-55 g
1-4 years
North African Elephant Shrew
10.500
7.000
13.000
0.055
4.00
100
3D
North African Elephant Shrew
3.1”-5.9” | 8-15 cm
2.6”-4.5” | 6.5-11.5 cm
6.7”-12.2” | 17-31 cm (Body)
.9-2.1 oz | 25-60 g
1-4 years
Somali Elephant Shrew
15.000
11.500
31.000
0.060
4.00
410
3D
Somali Elephant Shrew
Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi (Macroscelides micus)
Comparison illustration of the size of a Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi to other species of African Insectivores

The title for the smallest elephant shrew goes to the Etendeka Round-eared Sengi (Macroscelides micus) common in northwest Namibia. It is also called the Etendeka round-eared elephant shrew. It has a profile of a long-nosed mouse, a skin that is pink but covered in red fur, and legs that are long and thin. The Etendeka round-eared sengi is commonly found near volcanic rocks or sleeping in bushes. The nose is long and moveable, enabling it to hunt ground insects and move soil and sand around. It is thought to be monogamous and nocturnal.

The Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi has a body length in the range of 3.1”-3.9” (8-10 cm) and total weight of .9-1.1 oz (25-31 g). The Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi has a rough standing height between 2”-2.6” (5-6.5 cm), body width of 1.2”-1.6” (3-4 cm), and tail length of 3.1”-3.9” (8-10 cm). The typical lifespan of the Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi is between 1-4 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi in various poses with dimensions
The title for the smallest elephant shrew goes to the Etendeka Round-eared Sengi (Macroscelides micus) common in northwest Namibia. It is also called the Etendeka round-eared elephant shrew. It has a profile of a long-nosed mouse, a skin that is pink but covered in red fur, and long thin legs.

The Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi has a body length in the range of 3.1”-3.9” (8-10 cm) and total weight of .9-1.1 oz (25-31 g). The Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi has a rough standing height between 2”-2.6” (5-6.5 cm), body width of 1.2”-1.6” (3-4 cm), and tail length of 3.1”-3.9” (8-10 cm). The typical lifespan of the Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi is between 1-4 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi in various poses with dimensions
Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi (Macroscelides micus)
Height:
2”-2.6” | 5-6.5 cm
Width:
1.2”-1.6” | 3-4 cm
Length:
3.1”-3.9” | 8-10 cm (Body)
Depth:
Weight:
.9-1.1 oz | 25-31 g
Area:

Tail Length: 3.1”-3.9” | 8-10 cm

Scientific Name
Macroscelides micus
Lifespan
1-4 years

Drawings include:

Etendeka Round-Eared Sengi side view, front

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Cape Golden Mole (Chrysochloris asiatica)
Comparison illustration of the size of a Cape Golden Mole to other species of African Insectivores

The Cape Golden Mole (Chrysochloris asiatica) habitat is diverse. It can be moist soil with mixed clay or just sandy. It is endemic to the southwestern regions of South Africa. The Cape golden mole is a solitary mammal that feeds on soil invertebrates with a dense coat of silky covered in black/gray and brown/pale color. Its body is streamlined, head pointed, forelegs short, claws stout, and a nose with a leathery patch. These features make it good at digging and burrowing. Another unique feature is that it lacks a tail and well-developed eyesight, but has a good sense of smell and hearing. It uses seismic vibration for sensing and is very elusive.

The Cape Golden Mole has a body length in the range of 3.9”-4.7” (10-12 cm) and total weight of .9-1.7 oz (25-47 g). The Cape Golden Mole has a rough standing height between 1.6”-2” (4-5 cm) and body width of 1.6”-2” (4-5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Cape Golden Mole is between 3-4 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Cape Golden Mole in various poses with dimensions
The Cape Golden Mole (Chrysochloris asiatica) habitat is diverse. It can be moist soil with mixed clay or just sandy. It is endemic to the southwestern regions of South Africa. The Cape golden mole is a solitary mammal that feeds on soil invertebrates with a dense coat of silky fur.

The Cape Golden Mole has a body length in the range of 3.9”-4.7” (10-12 cm) and total weight of .9-1.7 oz (25-47 g). The Cape Golden Mole has a rough standing height between 1.6”-2” (4-5 cm) and body width of 1.6”-2” (4-5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Cape Golden Mole is between 3-4 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Cape Golden Mole in various poses with dimensions
Cape Golden Mole (Chrysochloris asiatica)
Height:
1.6”-2” | 4-5 cm
Width:
1.6”-2” | 4-5 cm
Length:
3.9”-4.7” | 10-12 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.9-1.7 oz | 25-47 g
Area:
Scientific Name
Chrysochloris asiatica
Lifespan
3-4 years

Drawings include:

Cape Golden Mole side view, front

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Somali Elephant Shrew (Galegeeska revoilii)
Scale illustration of an average Somali Elephant Shrew compared to other African Insectivore species

Listed as the most wanted lost species, the Somali Elephant Shrew (Galegeeska revoilii) is endemic to Somalia. Even so, it has also been spotted in other Horn of Africa countries like Ethiopia and Djibouti. It is also called Somali sengi. The Somali elephant shrew keeps lifelong partners. Its most prominent features include a trunk-like nose and a scary tail. Besides, it is petite. Its legs are long relative to its body size, making it agile and enabling it to jump when moving. The Somali elephant shrew has a hunchbacked posture and prefers dry forests, open country, and savannah.

The Somali Elephant Shrew has a body length in the range of 6.7”-12.2” (17-31 cm) and total weight of .9-2.1 oz (25-60 g). The Somali Elephant Shrew has a rough standing height between 3.1”-5.9” (8-15 cm), body width of 2.6”-4.5” (6.5-11.5 cm), and tail length of 7.1”-13” (18-33 cm). The typical lifespan of the Somali Elephant Shrew is between 1-4 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Somali Elephant Shrew
Listed as the most wanted lost species, the Somali Elephant Shrew (Galegeeska revoilii) is endemic to Somalia. Even so, it has also been spotted in other Horn of Africa countries like Ethiopia and Djibouti. It is also called Somali sengi. The Somali elephant shrew keeps lifelong partners.

The Somali Elephant Shrew has a body length in the range of 6.7”-12.2” (17-31 cm) and total weight of .9-2.1 oz (25-60 g). The Somali Elephant Shrew has a rough standing height between 3.1”-5.9” (8-15 cm), body width of 2.6”-4.5” (6.5-11.5 cm), and tail length of 7.1”-13” (18-33 cm). The typical lifespan of the Somali Elephant Shrew is between 1-4 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Somali Elephant Shrew
Somali Elephant Shrew (Galegeeska revoilii)
Height:
3.1”-5.9” | 8-15 cm
Width:
2.6”-4.5” | 6.5-11.5 cm
Length:
6.7”-12.2” | 17-31 cm (Body)
Depth:
Weight:
.9-2.1 oz | 25-60 g
Area:

Tail Length: 7.1”-13” | 18-33 cm

Scientific Name
Galegeeska revoilii
Lifespan
1-4 years

Drawings include:

Somali Elephant Shrew side view, front

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Giant Otter Shrew (Potamogale velox)
Scale illustration of an average Giant Otter Shrew compared to other African Insectivore species

The Giant Otter Shrew (Potamogale velox) possesses both features of a shrew and an otter. The face is flat with stiff whiskers and a muscular tail. You can find it in the aquatic environments of Central and East Africa. It is nocturnal and carnivorous, feeding mainly on aquatic animals. Its fleshy muzzle is flat and broad, while the eyes and ears are small. The giant otter shrew has a thick round body covered in coarse guard hairs, while the tail is in a silky coat of fur. The legs are short but not webbed. It is a strong swimmer and is solitary, only meeting during mating with females giving birth to young live ones.

The Giant Otter Shrew has a body length in the range of 10.6”-13.8” (27-35 cm) and total weight of .88-1.72 lb (400-780 g). The Giant Otter Shrew has a rough standing height between 3.3”-4.3” (8.5-11 cm), body width of 2.75”-3.7” (7-9.5 cm), and tail length of 9.1”-11.4” (23-29 cm). The typical lifespan of the Giant Otter Shrew is between 3-5 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Giant Otter Shrew
The Giant Otter Shrew (Potamogale velox) possesses both features of a shrew and an otter. The face is flat with stiff whiskers and a muscular tail. You can find it in the aquatic environments of Central and East Africa. It is nocturnal and carnivorous, feeding mainly on aquatic animals.

The Giant Otter Shrew has a body length in the range of 10.6”-13.8” (27-35 cm) and total weight of .88-1.72 lb (400-780 g). The Giant Otter Shrew has a rough standing height between 3.3”-4.3” (8.5-11 cm), body width of 2.75”-3.7” (7-9.5 cm), and tail length of 9.1”-11.4” (23-29 cm). The typical lifespan of the Giant Otter Shrew is between 3-5 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Giant Otter Shrew
Giant Otter Shrew (Potamogale velox)
Height:
3.3”-4.3” | 8.5-11 cm
Width:
2.75”-3.7” | 7-9.5 cm
Length:
10.6”-13.8” | 27-35 cm (Body)
Depth:
Weight:
.88-1.72 lb | 400-780 g
Area:

Tail Length: 9.1”-11.4” | 23-29 cm

Scientific Name
Potamogale velox
Lifespan
3-5 years

Drawings include:

Giant Otter Shrew side view, front

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Greater Hedgehog Tenrec (Setifer setosus)
Comparison drawing of the Greater Hedgehog Tenrec compared to other African Insectivores

From a distance, you may think the Greater Hedgehog Tenrec (Setifer setosus) is a hedgehog. However, it has no relationship with hedgehogs other than resemblance. It is found in dry savannah, subtropical or tropical areas, shrub land, low grasslands, and even urban areas in Madagascar. Its muzzle is round and white at the tip, with spines covering its back, sides, and tail. It can be light-colored or black and the limbs or ventral surface have dark brown or whitish soft hairs. The whiskers are relatively long. The greater hedgehog tenrec is a nocturnal animal, cryptic, promiscuous, terrestrial, and omnivore.

The Greater Hedgehog Tenrec has a body length in the range of 5.9”-9.1” (15-23 cm) and total weight of .39-.77 lb (175-350 g). The Greater Hedgehog Tenrec has a rough standing height between 3.3”-5.3” (8.5-13.5 cm), body width of 2.75”-4.3” (7-11 cm), and tail length of .6”-.7” (1.5-1.8 cm). The typical lifespan of the Greater Hedgehog Tenrec is between 8-13 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Greater Hedgehog Tenrec
From a distance, you may think the Greater Hedgehog Tenrec (Setifer setosus) is a hedgehog. However, it has no relationship with hedgehogs other than resemblance. It is found in dry savannah, subtropical or tropical areas, shrub land, low grasslands, and even urban areas in Madagascar.

The Greater Hedgehog Tenrec has a body length in the range of 5.9”-9.1” (15-23 cm) and total weight of .39-.77 lb (175-350 g). The Greater Hedgehog Tenrec has a rough standing height between 3.3”-5.3” (8.5-13.5 cm), body width of 2.75”-4.3” (7-11 cm), and tail length of .6”-.7” (1.5-1.8 cm). The typical lifespan of the Greater Hedgehog Tenrec is between 8-13 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Greater Hedgehog Tenrec
Greater Hedgehog Tenrec (Setifer setosus)
Height:
3.3”-5.3” | 8.5-13.5 cm
Width:
2.75”-4.3” | 7-11 cm
Length:
5.9”-9.1” | 15-23 cm (Body)
Depth:
Weight:
.39-.77 lb | 175-350 g
Area:

Tail Length: .6”-.7” | 1.5-1.8 cm

Scientific Name
Setifer setosus
Lifespan
8-13 years

Drawings include:

Greater Hedgehog Tenrec side view, front

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