Cape/South African Crested Porcupine

Cape/South African Crested Porcupine Hystrix africaeaustralis

Type of Animal:
Old World Porcupine

Hilly rocky areas, rocky crevices, caves, outcrops, savanna, grassland, scrub forest, forests, woodland, woodland savanna, semi-desert, brushland, forest margins, fields, agricultural areas, can be found from sea level all the way to 7,000 ft

S Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, S Congo & DRC, SW Kenya, Tanzania, & most of southern Africa except for much of Namib coast

Look very similar to N African Crested Porcupine but larger, stocky body, short limbs, covered in spines/quills, erectile crest of long bristly hairs runs from top of head down to shoulders, quills have multiple bands of black & white, dark hair on undersides, end of tail/quills/spines white, largest rodent in Africa, porcupettes covered in soft bristles which harden at 2 weeks old.

Fruits, roots, bulbs, tubers, bark, crops, wood, leaves, sap, flowers, foliage, melons, rhizomes, vegetables, berries, shoots, groundnuts, stems, carrion, bones, insects, small vertebrates

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos & wildlife parks

Male-female pairs w/ or w/o 1-3 sets of offspring, each litter has 1-4 young.

Additional Info:

Male: Boar
Female: Sow
Young: Porcupette
Group: Prickle
Male: 27-37 lbs
Female: 29-41 lbs
Young: 6 lbs

3.6 months

Life Span:
10 years in wild, 20 years in captivity

Body Length:
2-3 ft

Tail Length:
3-6.5 in

Main predators of adults are lions, leopards, crocodilians, pythons, hyenas, wild dogs, & very large raptors. Raptors more often prey on young.
Active at night (nocturnal).
Like other rodents, they have single pair of sharp continually growing incisor teeth.
Persecuted by farmers due to eating crops.
Due to eating habits, they can make trees more susceptible to disease & fire damage.
Sexually mature at 7 months old but remain w/ parents for 1-2 years.
Females usually breed twice a year.
Prefer pre-made shelters but will dig own dens that can be 65 ft long. May be up to 6 different burrows in pair/family territory.

Fun Fact(s):
Porcupine means “quill pig” in Latin.
Spines are 1.6 ft long & quills can be a foot long.
If quills fall out, they can regrow them. Quills made of keratin-same material hair/fingernails made of.
Though fairly docile, quills dangerous & if not removed can move deeper into flesh & cause painful easily infected wounds.
Contrary to popular belief, they don’t shoot quills but rather whip around & charge backwards/sideways in order to lodge/stab sharp quills into attacker. 1st line of defense is to raise quills to make themselves look bigger, rattle tails, stomp feet, hiss, & snort. Another defense mechanism is to hide in hole/burrow & erect quills/spines so they can’t be dislodged.
Cape porcupines, stock photo

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