African Porcupine

Hystrix cristata

The African Porcupine is a species of rodent that lives mainly in mainland Italy, Sicily, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

Almost the entire body is covered with bristles which are either dark brown or black and rather coarse. This mammal is recognizable by the quills that run along the head, nape, and back that can be raised into a crest. There are also some sturdier quills which are about 14 in in length and run along the sides and back half of the body. These sturdier quills are used, for the most part, for defense and are usually marked with light and dark bands which alternate; these are not firmly attached.

This porcupine has a shorter tail which has rattle quills at the end. The rattle quills broaden at the terminal end and the broad portion is hollow with thin walls. When these quills are vibrated they produce a hiss-like rattle.

The porcupine is a terrestrial mammal; they very seldom climb trees, but can swim. They are nocturnal and monogamous. The porcupine takes care of the young for a long time and small family groups consist of the adult pair and young of various ages. In defense, when disturbed, they raise and fan their quills to make themselves look bigger. If continually bothered, the crested porcupine will stamp its feet, whirr the quills, and charge the disturber back end first trying to stab the enemy with the thicker, shorter quills. These attacks are known to have killed lions, leopards, hyenas, and even humans.

Crested porcupines have been known to collect thousands of bones that they find at night. They will collect these bones, and store them in an underground chamber, or cave. Sometimes humans dig up these bones, it is an amazing find for paleontologists and archaeologists.