Hystrix  africaeaustralis

Range: Much of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding southwestern deserts

Habitat: rocky outcrops and hills; shelter in caves or dens that they dig themselves

Conservation status: Least concern. Has been exterminated in several parts of its range due to damage it causes to cultivated crops. Also killed for quills for ornaments and charms.

South African Crested Porcupine

  • • A species of Old World porcupine, also known as the Cape Porcupine. Females are the largest rodents in southern Africa. May live 12-15 years in the wild.
    • Diet consists of all parts of plants, including bark, tubers, and roots; fallen fruit, insects, and occasionally carrion.
    • May chew bones for calcium and to keep incisors honed.
    • Excellent hearing; freezes when approached by potential predators. When cornered, the animal stomps its feet, clicks its teeth, and growls or hisses while vibrating specialized hollow quills at the end of the tail. This produces a characteristic rattle. If a predator persists, the porcupine runs backward until it rams its attacker with its backward directed quills.
    • Quills are not barbed.
    • Mostly nocturnal; spends the day sleeping in burrows, rock cavities, under boulders, or in thickets.
    • Well-worn paths lead from shelters to favorite feeding grounds.
    • Ground predators include leopards, lions, and hyenas, although the porcupine’s excellent defense is usually a good deterrent.
    • Live in small family groups, though the female may establish a separate den to bear her young.
    • Forage alone, except when parents accompany young.
    • Bear 2 litters/year; one to four young per litter. Young are precocial (eyes open), and have soft, short quills that harden as they air dry.

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