Extant Afrotheria


Order: Afrosoricida
Family: 2
Species: 54

Afrosoricida is divided into two families; the Tenrecidae (tenrecs and otter shrews) and Chrysochloridae (golden moles). There are 24 species of Tenrecidae and 30 species of Chrysochloridae.



Tenrecs are nocturnal hedgehog like mammals mainly from central Africa and Madagascar. Tenrecs have long versatile snouts that enable them to forage amongst leaves and soil for grubs, worms and other invertebrates. The otter shrew is semi-aquatic, living nearby upland forest streams in West Africa. They build short nesting burrows in soft earth near the streams and drag their prey onto the land nearby to eat. They feed on fish, crabs and other water insects, catching them either at the surface of the water or by diving down to the river bed for short periods.


Example species:

Common tenrec
Tenrec ecautatus

Length: 26-39 cm
Weight: 1.5-2.5 kg
Social unit: Individual
Region: Madagascar
Status: Common


Nimba otter-shrew
Micropotamogale lamottei

Length: 12-20 cm
Weight: 125 g
Social unit: Individual
Region: West Africa
Status: Endangered


Golden Moles

Golden moles are native to southern South Africa where they live in a variety of environments, species dependant. They are so similar to the marsupial moles of Australia, that they were once thought to be related, despite the marsupial/placental morphological divide. Golden moles have very poor eyesight and hearing, using their hyper sensitive nose to find their way and locate prey. Their diet is species dependant due to the varying habitats but all are insectivorous, with some branching out to small lizards and snakes.


Example Species:

Grant's golden mole
Eremitalpa granti

Length: 7-8 cm
Weight: 15-30 g
Social unit: Individual
Region: Southern Africa
Status: Vulnerable


Author: Emma-Louise Nicholls
Last updated: 20th November 2005
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