African Porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis)

African Porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) Silhouette

Quick stats of the African Porcupine

  • Diet: - Herbivore
  • Overall length: - 0.87 m
  • Weight: - Male - 18.4 kg
  • Weight: - Female - 19.7 kg
  • Lifespan - 14 years

Description

Porcupine © KZN Wildlife

Porcupines are best known for their coat of sharp spines and quills protruding from its tail, back and sides that defend them from predators. They are also the largest rodent in southern Africa.

The porcupine is nocturnal and lives in caves or crevices but may use an old aardvark hole or dig its own hole. It is usually solitary although it may share the same shelter with other adults.

They have good hearing and when they feel threatened, can become aggressive. They raise the quills on their back in defence, giving it a larger appearance. They also shake their tails creating a loud rattling sound by the hollow quills. If the threat attacks the porcupine, it turns and rushes backward to impale the intruder. They do not "shoot" their quills at an offender.

Porcupines eat bulbs, tubers, and dig out roots. They sometimes eat vegetables such as watermelons and pumpkins. They can be a pest in agricultural lands where they cause damage to crops. As rodents they have two top and bottom incisor teeth used for gnawing. Although they are herbivores, bones are often found around a porcupine's burrow. They gnaw on bones in order to get phosphorous and calcium in their diets and to wear down their teeth.

Porcupine couples form a strong bond and after a gestation period of 3 months, 1-2 young are born.

Other Names for the African Porcupine

  • Ystervark

Distribution

Distribution map of the African Porcupine
Distribution map of the African Porcupine

Taxonomy of the African Porcupine

  • Order - Rodentia
  • Family - Hystricidae
  • Genus - Hystrix
  • Species - Hystrix africaeaustralis

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