Sengis are alert, high-strung creatures with hair-trigger senses and reactions, always primed for escape, fleeing into hiding at the least threat. The enemies of sengis are legion. Snakes, birds of prey, and carnivorous mammals are known predators of sengis. Accordingly, the sengi lifestyle balances the vulnerability of small size, short life-span and low reproductive rate with keen senses, lightning-swift reflexes, and alterations that the sengi makes in its territory to ensure maximum safety.
behavior keeps the trails open and ready for the sengi to flee along toward shelter in response to threats.
A trail-making sengi marks its trails with little heaps of excrement wherever its path crosses the path of an abutting, same-species territory. If individuals of abutting territories meet at the crossroads, they interract with elaborate threat rituals, ending in a stalemate and truce, or a fight.
Unlike the soft-furred sengi species, the giant sengi species seldom maintain trail systems, but an individual or pair will build a network of leaf nests throughout their territory. The giant species scent-mark their territories but never resort to excremental signatures. There are no elaborate rituals if individuals of abutting territories meet. One simply and pointedly chases off the other, finishing with a nip by incisors to the fleeing hindquarters.
Sengi limbs are built for walking, trotting, and highvelocity running and hopping. Most species go to hopping mode only occasionally, while all are quadrupedal walkers and runners. Sengis walk and run in digitigrade fashion, i.e., on the tips of their fore-digits and hind-digits. When threatened, they prefer to run for a hiding spot, but will go into hopping mode with their hind limbs, tail extended, in extreme danger.
Sengis sleep or hide in tucked-away shelters, such as rock crevices, burrows, nests and depressions of their own making, or burrows abandoned by other small mammals. Sengi-made burrows often include an inconspicuous emergency exit.
Individuals may live alone (except during mating), or as monogamous, pair-bonded male and female, or in small groups. Whether a loner, or one of a pair or group, a sengi patrols its territory constantly. A male-female bonded pair defends its territory "sex-specifically" against other members of its species, i.e., males confront and chase off intruding males, females do likewise to trespassing females.
Active times of day and night vary among species. The Rhynchocyon species are diurnal, while other species tend toward crepuscular (twilight) or nocturnal activity. Some diurnal species switch to nocturnal foraging in exceptionally hot weather, on adequately moonlit nights, or if overly harassed by daytime predators.
Many of the soft-furred sengi species make and maintain elaborate trail systems through leaf litter or grass, with strategically located hiding spots along the way for quick cover from threats. Males and females scent-mark stones and twigs along the trail systems and deposit identifying little heaps of excrement where their path crosses a path in an abutting territory. The animals fastidiously maintain the trails, booting off intruding pebbles, twigs, and leaves with their forelimbs. This
In open country, soft-furred sengis often sunbathe just outside their home shelters, sitting on their haunches, their senses always alert for the least inkling of a threat, at which point they instantly rouse and flee into hiding.
Some sengi species also "sand-bathe," wallowing in dry sand, a behavior noted in other rodent species. Sand-bathing both scent-marks the immediate territory and serves to clean the fur of accumulated oil, dandruff, and dirt. Established sand-bathing spots are scattered throughout a sengi trail system. Soft-furred sengis also clean their fur with their tongues and scratch with their hind legs, able thereby to reach all parts of their bodies.
Sengis are not particularly vocal creatures. Elephantulus and Rhynchocyon species make squeaking sounds, and drum the leaf litter with their hind feet. The four-toed sengi (Petrodromus tetradactylus) makes a cricketlike call. The golden-rumped sengi (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus), the four-toed sengi, and Ele-phantulus species all rap the ground with their hind feet to sound alarms or for other reasons, doing so in species-specific patterns that vary in regular or irregular rhythms, intervals between each rap, number of raps in a set, and number of sets in a series. Rhynchocyon species and Petrodromus tetradactylus make similar warning noises by rapping their tails against the ground.
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