By David Brown and Stuart Short*
Today’s article is coming to you from Ankarafantsika National Park in Madagascar. Our special guest today is the creature known by the common name “Large-Eared Tenrec”.
Interviewer: Hello, Mr. Large-Eared Tenrec, how are you today?
Large-Eared Tenrec: I’m fine thank you. You can call me Geo. My scientific name is Geogale aurita.
Interviewer: What would you like to tell us about yourself, Geo?
Large-Eared Tenrec: If you saw me and didn’t know better you would probably think I was some kind of mouse. I’m about the size of a small mouse with grey fur on my body and white fur on my tummy.
Interviewer: So you are not a mouse? You really do look like one. Are you really sure that you aren’t?
Large-Eared Tenrec: Ha ha! I fooled you! Nope, I’m a tenrec. I’m related to elephants and aardvarks, not to rodents! My ancestors came to the island of Madagascar from Africa and there weren’t a lot of other animals around. We evolved to take advantage of all of the different ways of making a living that were available to us because nobody else was around.
Interviewer: What kind of lifestyle do you have, Geo? Where do you live and what do you eat?
Large-Eared Tenrec: Well, you see these ears that take up a lot of space on my head. They’re not just for looks (although they do make me look cute, don’t they?). I use them to listen for termites moving underground. When I hear the termites I scamper over and chomp them down. There’s noting better than slurping down fresh termites on a warm night. DELICIOUS! I live in grasslands and dry forest areas where termites live.
Interviewer: Do you have any special method for eating termites?
Large-Eared Tenrec: I have 34 sharp teeth for shredding and munching those termites. Look, there’s one now!
Large-Eared Tenrec: Ooops, sorry dude. I thought that the tip of your finger there was a termite. My bad.
Interviewer: Okay, I think it’s about time to wrap this up. Are there any animals that you are afraid of Geo?
Large-Eared Tenrec: Owls. Owls like to eat us. Fortunately with these large ears we can usually hear them coming. Speaking of which, what is that whooshing coming down from the forest? If that’s what I think it is, then I’ve really got to run! Take care!
Interviewer: And that, ladies and gentleman, was Geo, the large-eared tenrec.
*This article previously appeared on kidsnews.mongabay.com