African Porcupine: The Prickliest Rodent
African Porcupines are the heaviest of all rodents and categorised as ‘Old World’ and ‘New World’ species. Those of the ‘old world’ are found in Europe, Asia and Africa while the ‘New world’ species are natives to North and South America. There are 29 species of porcupines all over the world. The crested species of family Hystricidae is our point of discussion as many are found on African soil.
The “quill pig” as latinised, weighs between 12-35 pounds (5.4-15.8Kg). They have soft hair with sharp quills at the back, sides and tail region. The quills are almost a foot long which are used as defensive tools against predators. The big cat– leopard is recorded to be one of the main predators in their habitat.
The quills are used for African traditional decorative clothing and aesthetics in many cultural and tourist centres, including Museums of Natural Histories.
They live in grasslands, deserts and forests. They give birth to between 1-4 babies and by two months of age, the young ones begin to live on their own. They have an average life span of about 5-7 years.
- Conservation status is ‘least concern’.
African Porcupines are not an easy prey animal. Those quills have sometimes penetrated vital parts of a predator and have killed them.
There is one predator that mainly hunts them and that is the leopard — an experienced leopard knows to go for its legs, first. The inexperienced leopards only get a painful face-full of quills.
However, there is one other predator skilled in hunting these dangerous, prickled rodents: The lions found in the Kalahari.