African Crested Porcupine

Even though they are strictly protected by law in Europe, these porcupines are still illegally hunted for their meat. They are also illegally poisoned because of the damage they cause to crops and fields.

Conservation Status

Source: IUCN

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These porcupines gnaw on bones for calcium and to sharpen their teeth.

Important Facts

They don’t shoot, but they are sharp

African crested porcupines have sharp quills that are 30 centimetres (almost one foot) long. They fan their quills to make themselves look bigger and as a warning to whatever is threatening them. If the threat continues, they stamp their feet, whirr their quills and charge at their enemy with their back ends, attempting to stab with the thicker, shorter quills. This attack strategy can kill lions, leopards, hyenas and even humans.


Thorny delivery

Luckily for porcupine moms, babies have soft quills at birth, which harden within a few days. After only two months with their mothers, the young are ready to live on their own.
Babies are called porcupettes.


Conservation connections

African crested porcupines are hunted for their meat and quills in most parts of their range. In Morocco, these porcupines are widely used in traditional medicine and are commonly sold in local markets.

At a Glance

Scientific Name

Hystrix cristata

Weight

10 – 30 kg (22 – 66 lbs)

Height

60 – 93 cm (2 – 2.4 ft) [length]

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Habitat

Shrublands, forests, steppes, savannahs and dry, rocky areas of Italy, Mediterranean, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Diet

African crested porcupines eat bark, roots, tubers, rhizomes, bulbs, fallen fruit and crops.