African Crested Porcupine - Hystrix africacaustralis
all types of forests, plantations, rocky areas, mountain steppes, and sandhill deserts.
southern half of Africa
They have long quills (up to 12” long) and a spiked crest on head. They have small eyes and external ears
weight: 22-66 pounds. length (head and body): 2-3 feet
African Crested Porcupines live in small family groups. Group members forage on their own but commonly share a burrow. The burrows are in crevices under rocks in caves, in Aardvark holes, or dug by the animals themselves.
The diet of the African Crested Porcupine consists of roots, bark, tubers, bulbs, fruit and cultivated crops. Food is found through smell and hearing (listen for fruit to drop from the trees). When eating, the porcupine usually holds its food in its front paws. Animals have to gnaw on hard objects like branches and bones to keep the upper incisor teeth from overgrowing. Young porcupines are preyed upon by big cats and hunting dogs.
The mating season of the African Crested Porcupine varies with the climate. Individuals are sexually mature at about 2 years of age and can produce 2-3 litters per year. During courtship, the male and female lick each other. When she is ready to mate, she flattens her body and quills close to the ground so she does not injure the male. After a gestation period of 107-112 days, the female gives birth to 1-4 offspring (2 is most common). They are born in a grass-lined burrow and are covered with bristles and soft quills which harden a few hours after birth. The young suckle from nipples on the mother’s sides (away from quills). They start to eat solid food after 2 weeks but continue to nurse for several more weeks.
The African Crested Porcupine population seems to be in no danger at the present time, but it has been eliminated from many heavily settled areas. Is listed as little concern according to the IUCN Red List and AZA cooperatively manages this species as a Species Survival Plan
- Like all rodents, the porcupine has long incisor teeth which grow continuously throughout the animals life. The animal must gnaw on branches and bones to keep them from growing too long.
- Can hear fruit drop from a tree several yards away
- When threatened, the African Crested Porcupine:
- 1) raises the spines and rattles them vigorously to scare off the predator
2) stamps feet and whirrs the quills
3) charges backwards rapidly, presenting its armored rear
- The barbed spine of the quills detaches easily on contact with an animal’s flesh and sinks deeper and deeper into the skin as the victim moves. The area can then become infected and kill the attacker
- Calls consist of loud grunts when threatened
- The quills were once used as arrow tips and darts by African tribesmen
- African Crested Porcupines are excellent swimmers
- The African Crested Porcupine is not closely related to the tree-climbing species of the Western Hemisphere
- Most porcupines keep an assortment of twigs and bones to gnaw on
- African Crested Porcupines are the only porcupines that have “rattle” quills. These quills are located at the end of the tail. They are slender for most of their length, but are much wider near the end. The expanded portion is hollow and thin-walled, so several quills vibrating together produce a hisslike rattle.
- World’s largest species of porcupines
- Monogamous, pairs for life
AZA cooperatively manages this species as a Species Survival Plan® Program.
- Adult (13 and over)$9.00
- Child (2 - 12)$6.00
- Child (1 and Under)FREE
- Senior (65+)$8.00
- Active Military$8.00
We begin transferring animals to evening (off exhibit) holding at 4:30 each night.
Open Daily 10:00-5:00
Last admission at 4:30