African Crested Porcupines are one of the largest rodents in the world – weighing up to a whopping 27kg and measuring almost one metre in length! These amazing mammals are covered in striking 35cm long, black and white quills, which provide excellent protection against predators such as lions and hyenas.
These guys are very traditional, finding a partner that they stay with for life. Because of their prickly exterior, porcupine mating can be tricky business, with the female flattening her quills against her back so she doesn’t poke her male companion. After a gestation period of 112 days, females give birth to a litter of one or two offspring known as porcupettes. These babies stay in a custom-built den lined with grass until they are around one week old.
Most of the action happens at night for these nocturnal animals, including meal times! Their diet consists of bark, roots, fallen fruits and sometimes insects and carrion. Unfortunately, crested porcupines also like to snack on cultivated crops making them a pest to farmers, sometimes leading to their hunt and capture. As well as being killed for meat, they are often killed for their quills, which are falsely believed to possess medicinal properties.
They inhabit a variety of habitats across northern Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Italy, including shrubland, forest and dry, rocky areas.