This is a Sengi. The worlds fastest small mammal. It’s tiny, fuzzy, related to an elephant and incredibly fast. On paper it sounds like a joke. But in real life, it looks like the cutest little pet you could probably never tame.
I mean, imagine trying to domesticate a creature like this! It would be a nightmare. It would be like trying to get a fly on a leash.
The Sengi is often mistaken for a shrew, which is quite understandable when looking at it. And because of it’s relation to elephants it actually received a second name which is deservedly known as the elephant shrew.
The habits of sengi’s have continued to surprise biologists: they have a diet of termites and ants. Which is more strange because this kind of diet is far more common for larger mammals. They don’t nest like other small mammals either, and they hibernate overnight and have remarkably long bones in their feet.
The long bones in their feet are a result of their adaptation to fast movement, in order to keep them stable and strong off the bat.
In fact, it’s speed is pretty much it’s only defence against predators. It continuously stays on the move, travelling at lightning speed to avoid being caught or even seen by potential predators.
Smart, but exhausting!
According to Prof Lovegrove, the speed that can be attained by these creatures is simply ridiculous. They can run at over 30km/h in an open space.
To put that into perspective, it would leave a cheetah in it’s dust. It’s unbelievable. He adds, “Nevertheless, what you can claim using this method, is that elephant shrews are the fastest mammals on Earth that are smaller than half a kilogram,”
The sengi has a very unusual method to keeping up their energy whilst they dart from place to place. That method is to ritually hibernate every night. Their bodies cool down and preserve much needed energy to fuel their high speed lifestyle.
With all this said, there is still so much to learn about these marvellous creatures. It seems like the more we learn about the sengi, the more we are discovering about the evolutionary chain.
In other words, if we continue to study and learn from these animals, we could be looking at some answers to some pretty big questions.
And if you were ever considering trying to adopt one of these magnificent beings as a domesticated house pet, all I can say to you is, good luck. You’re going to need it.