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Crested porcupine

(Hystrix cristata)

Porcupines originate from Africa. These rodents live in the savannah. They are monogamous animals (a couple stays together for their entire life). They are good swimmers and rarely climb trees. They have clearly visible ears which are as small as their eyes.


They eat all kinds of vegetable and fruit. Our porcupines love bananas, dry bread, oranges, pineapple, cucumbers, acorns and fresh grass. In the wild, they eat roots, tuber, grass, seeds, and herbs – sometimes even bugs or vertebrates. They travel great distances in search of food. They can become 90 cm long and can weigh up to 19 kg and even more. Their black and white fur grows into tusks. They become harder and sharper as you go towards the back. Tusks can be as long as 50 cm. The porcupine produces a rattling sound with its tusks because they are hollow on the inside. Porcupines like to grind their teeth on thick branches and old bones which are brought into their den. They make their own den and also live in them. These are predominantly nocturnal creatures.


The vast majority of information about their breeding was obtained from porcupines which were in captivity. The male gives birth once a year – up to three offspring. The mother gives birth to cubs in the den. The den is bedded with grass. The gestation period lasts for around 66 days. At birth, the offspring weigh around 1 kg. They become sexually active when they reach max weight – approximately 2 years of age.


When in danger they raise their spiky tail and their tusks. Now they seem bigger, which fends off attackers. If that isn´t sufficient, they run – backward – into the enemy. Sometimes they suddenly stop, when the enemy is going to him, so they stab him. Their tusks can break off in different places. The tusks are also serrate so they go deeper and deeper into the enemy´s body. Usually, the predator dies. Even hyenas, lions and people have died due to fatal injuries. If they stab themselves (fall or have an accident) or get stabbed by another porcupine their bodies start to produce an antibiotic. This prevents the infection – they can´t die as a result of their own sting.


They are an endangered species. Because of their tasty meat, many were killed by people. There are 8 known types of Hystrix genus. Two of them live outside Asia – in Africa and Italy. A small number of them live in the Mediterranean, on the island of Sicilia and Corsica. Historical evidence shows that they were brought there by the Romans. They still live in the following countries: Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, Somalia, Sudan Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda, however, their numbers are alarmingly low.

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