Porcupine, African Crested

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Physical Characteristics

The black & white quills along the head and back can be raised into a crest, thus the name. They weigh approximately 50 lbs. and are about 30” in length, and have very poor vision. Their quill lengths vary on different parts of the body, anywhere from 1” to 12” on their back. New quills will grow in to replace lost ones. They are good diggers.

Habitat & Diet

The African crested porcupine lives in hilly, rocky habitats in Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Italy. They are herbivores, primarily eating roots, tubers, bark and fallen fruit, and will seek out cultivated root crops like potatoes and carrots, making them agricultural pests. Farmers use dogs to hunt them or smoke them out of burrows.

Social Behavior

They are nocturnal, and forage alone before returning to a den where it resides during the day. Despite being a solitary forager, they live in small family groups consisting of an adult pair with their young. They live together sharing an elaborate burrow system, which they may remain in during winter, although they do not undergo true hibernation. The North African crested porcupine is monogamous. Females usually have only one litter per year, containing one or two or, occasionally three offspring.

Sources

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Fascinating Facts

    • The African crested porcupine is the largest rodent in Africa, and the 3rd largest rodent in the world, behind the capybara and beaver.
    • Porcupine comes from the Latin “porcus” for pig and “spina” for spine: “spiny pig”… BUT, they are not related to pigs.

Status In The Wild

Predators of the North African crested porcupine include lions, leopards, large birds of prey and hyenas. When confronted, the North African crested porcupine raises and fans its quills to appear large and imposing. If this fails to deter the predator, the North African crested porcupine will proceed to stamp its feet, whirr its quills to produce a rattling sound, and will then charge its enemy, back-end first, attempting to stab its enemy with its thicker, shorter quills. The deep wounds inflicted from these attacks can prove fatal and crested porcupines have been known to injure lions, leopards, hyenas and even humans. Their status is: Protected.

Waystation Residents

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