Sengis might look like a shrew but, they are in fact distantly related to manatees, aardvarks, hyraxes and elephants.

The tiny creatures are not thought to be directly linked to their shrew cousins in other parts of the world and are more closely related to elephants, and are amongst very few mammals that naturally pair up for life.

There are nineteen different species of sengi, which are very poorly known in the wild and only as recently as last year a new species was discovered in Namibia.

Sengi weigh between 30 and 45 grams and grow only to be four inches in length, making them the smallest of the 19 sub-species.

They are native to Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and are found in a range of habitats including desert, forest and scrubland.

At Chester Zoo they can be seen inside its Secret World of the Okapi exhibit.

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Interesting facts

Where they live: Botswana, Namibia and South Africa

Habitat: Deserts, forest, scrubland

Size: Up to 4 inches in length

Weight: 30-45g

Threats: No major threats

Species Information

Scientific name Macroscelides proboscideus
Order Macroscelidea
Family Macroscelididae
Genus Macroscelides
IUCN status Least Concern
Roles in the zoo

Husbandry Development and/or Skills Training: This is a species for which we’re developing particular husbandry methods to address an identified issue and/or helping to build staff capacity in specific husbandry or field conservation skills.