Brazilian Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine

ANIMAL:
Brazilian Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine Coendou prehensilis

Type of Animal:
New World Porcupine

Habitat:
Forests, humid mountainous highlands as high as 4,921.26 ft, tropical grasslands, croplands, tropical savanna, woodlands

Location(s):
E Colombia, Venezuela, Guiana Shield, most of Brazil except for SE, N & E Bolivia, SE Peru, N Paraguay, extreme NC Argentina, Trinidad

Appearance:
Gets name from prehensile tail, fleshy pink nose/lips, gray body, whitish quills/spines, large curved claws, porcupettes born w/ reddish-brown eventually darkening, sometimes have yellow-orange rust hue, no quills/spines on tail

Food/Diet:
Leaves, flowers, shoots, roots, cambium layer beneath bark, nuts, vegetables, fruit, crops, small fresh twigs, bark, stems, blossoms, seeds, grains, tubers, wood, buds, greens

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos, aquariums, & wildlife centers

Lifestyle:
Solitary or male-female pairs

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Boar
Female: Sow
Young: Porcupette
Group: Pair

Weight:
Male: 10 lbs
Female: 11 lbs
Young: 5 lbs

Gestation:
6-7 months

Life Span:
12 years in wild, 17-20 years in captivity

Height:
Adult: 1.64-1.96 ft
Young: 1.31 ft

Body Length:
Adult: 1.64-1.96 ft
Young: 1.31 ft

Tail Length:
1.08-1.59 ft

Main predators are dogs, large constrictors, large raptors, crocodilians, & jaguars.
 
Active at night (nocturnal).
 
Highly arboreal, spending more than 85% of time in trees.
 
Have excellent senses of touch, smell, & hearing.
 
Breeds year-round & females can breed again a few days after giving birth.
 
Sexually mature at a year old.
 
Can move & climb soon after birth.
 
Sometimes persecuted as crop pests & hunted for meat.
 
Play important role as seed dispersers.

Fun Fact(s):
Porcupine Latin for “spiny pig” even though not closely related to pigs.
 
Known to be quite docile & tame in captivity.
 
Can be reservoirs for parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease in humans. Porcupines themselves not infectious.
 
During courtship, males will urinate on females to bring them into heat. Males also sometimes urinate on females when she gives birth as well as newborn porcupette to mark them.
 
Often have very musky odor
 
They don’t shoot quills-rather quills drop very easily from skin. To defend themselves, they’ll ball up or charge backward to embed quills in predator’s skin. Another defense mechanism is to curl itself into ball.

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