Covered in sharp hollow quills which are coated in keratin, when alarmed the Cape Porcupine will use the quill as part of its defence mechanism by spreading them out and backing towards its threat. Serious injuries can result when humans or animals come in contact with a porcupine if the eyes, mouth or throat are afflicted. Lactation and Weaning 60% of litters have 1 young (Delany 1975; de Graff 1981; van Aarde 1985; Barthelmess 2006, 2016b), Interbirth Interval 300 to 400 g (0.7 to 0.9 lb) [managed care] (van Aarde 1985). But what can these small mammals really do with their home-grown needles. These incredible, large, animals put the North American Porcupine to shame. Cape Porcupine Part of the Rodent family, the Cape Porcupine is the largest species of Porcupine in the world. Its proportions are not as attractive as its animal itself. 2015). Cape porcupines mate throughout the year, although births are most common during the rainy season, between August and March. Both parents care for offspring. In a family group, only the dominant female in the adult pair conceives (reproduction suppressed in subadult females). It’s one prickly baby, an African Cape Porcupine. Capable diggers (Skinner and Chimimba 2005; Happold 2013). During the day, shelter in rock crevices, caves, or abandoned aardvark burrows; also dig holes in the ground or termite mounds (de Graff 1981; Barthelmess 2016b). Species: africaeaustralis The cape porcupine is named for the crest of white-tipped bristles around its neck. Description: The Cape Porcupine is the largest rodent in Africa. A large porcupine, up to 50-60 pounds but more commonly 30-45, closely related to the African crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata), with which its range somewhat overlaps. Monogamous (Morris and van Aarde 1985; van Aarde 1998). They are heavily built animals, with stocky bodies, short limbs, and an inconspicuous tail. These por­cu­pines are cov­ered with flat, bristly hairs and have quills and spines on the pos­te­rior back and flanks. Begin feeding independently at 5 months old (van Aarde 1987). A cape porcupine’s back is covered in spines that can be up to 20 inches long. Length : 84 cm . Young remain in burrow for 7 to 9 weeks; emerge when quills have hardened (Happold 2013). Sometimes observed sunbathing near shelter entrance (Skinner and Chimimba 2005). [photos Trevor Hardaker ©] Identification. Rather, they get stuck in whatever touches the porcupine. Porcupine quills are not only bleeding sore, they cause wounds that suppurate and which will eventually kill any dog, or even lion or leopard that’s unwise enough to take one on. One of Africa’s 2 largest rodents (the other is the crested porcupine, Acute hearing; stand motionless when disturbed (Skinner and Chimimba 2005). Class: Mammalia (Linnaeus, 1758) — mammals, Order: Rodentia (Bowdich, 1821) — rodents, Family: Hystricidae (Fischer de Waldheim, 1817) — Old World porcupines, Species: Hystrix africaeaustralis (Peters, 1852) — Cape porcupine, *Subspecies: Hystrix africaeaustralis africaeaustralis (Peters, 1852) The quills themselves are essentially modified hairs. The hollow rattle quills serve as musical instruments and were once used as containers for gold dust. In managed care: up to 20 years (Barthelmess 2016b). The porcupine is the largest rodent in southern Africa. The Cape porcupine is the largest porcupine in the world, alongside the nearly identical African crested porcupine. Cape Porcupines feed on tree bark – a habit that may help with the health of the African savannah ecosystem – and even gnaw bones. In addition to being targeted for their quills, they are illegally hunted for their meat. Males: 8 to 18 months (van Aarde and Skinner 1986a) http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/cape-porcupine. For bibliography, click the tab at the top of this page. The quills of the cape porcupine are the longest in the world. The trouble is, quills keep moving inward. Otherwise, the porcupine may retreat into its burrow, exposing only its quills and making it hard to dislodge. Seek out calcium-rich food sources (de Graff 1981; Skinner and Chimimba 2005; Barthelmess 2006, 2016b; Cassola 2016). Here are some of the interesting facts about the cape porcupine. It’s not because they are carnivore but because of the minerals it gets from them. A landowner permit is needed to trap chipmunks, opossums, porcupines, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, tree squirrels and woodchucks in Maryland. It has a distinctive appearance with its protective body covering of long rigid quills and flexible spines, banded in black and white. The black-and-white speckled quills grow up to 50 cm long. Middle and rear upperbody covered in bristly hairs, long spines, and defensive quills. Offspring often disperse when mature but may stay with family group, if dispersal opportunities are limited (typically when competing for space and food in high-density populations) (Corbet 1991). 10 Days Uganda Safari tour; 3 Days Uganda Gorilla Trekking; 5 Days Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking Considered fairly common. Porcupine quills have long been a favorite ornament and good-luck charm in Africa. It turns out Bear might have the heart of a lion. Most young born August to March (peak in January) [obs. This porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) is known as the Cape Porcupine, the African Porcupine and South African Porcupine. Main tunnels can be 20 m (60 ft) long. Porcupines erect their white and black coloured spines and quills using muscles under their skin, making them appear much bigger and threatening. 1 year (van Aarde 1987), Birth Weight The Internet connection is missing right now, but you're able to browse previously opened pages offline. 1994; Barthelmess 2016a, 2016b). Cape porcupines mate throughout the year, although births are most common during the rainy season, between August and March. Both species have long, white, stiletto-like quills running the length of their backs that, when raised, make the animals appear at least twice as large as they actually are. Dig holes that open up soil surface, allowing water to seep into ground and new plants to grow (Bragg et al. If you have a Zoo account, or you're a Zoo Friends member, login below. Their body is armed with long pliable spines, flattened bristly hairs and stout sharp quills. Nocturnal (de Graff 1981; Corbet 1991). The interesting bit is the Quills! Hunted for their meat and quills (Barthelmess 2006, 2016b; Cassola 2016). The Cape Porcupine cannot be mistaken for any other animal in southern Africa. Cape porcupines have a large distribution, ranging across the southern half of Africa. It also boasts shorter, thicker quills that are even sharper and more dangerous than it’s spines. From the stocky Cape porcupine in South Africa (and across central and southern Africa), to the North American porcupine known as the New World porcupine. Diet: The Cape Porcupine is a herbivore. The spines and quills cover the posterior two thirds of its back and can get up 50cm and 30cm respectively. The quills on the neck and back are black and white and the tips of the tail quills can range up to 20 inches long. Subspecies: Hystrix africaeaustralis zuluensis (Roberts, 1936). From the head to the base of it’s tail, a cape porcupine measures between 63 and 81cm (25 and 32in) long. Where spines and quills not present, hair is black, grayish, or brownish (except crest, which is commonly has white tips). If cornered, it turns vicious and charges to stab its attacker with its quills. Reproduction . 105-130 mm (4.13-5.1 in) (n = 2) (Barthelmess 2006; Happold 2013; Barthelmess 2016b). Unfortunately for porcupines, their quills have become popular for use in the fashion industry and in décor items. Population trend: stable (Cassola 2016). The dif­fer­ence be­tween quills and spines is largely one of length and thick­ness, with spines up to 50 cm long and quills up to 30 cm long. The Cape Porcupine is the largest species of porcupine in the world growing up to 90cm long. Once imbedded, quills cannot easily be pulled out. Habitat Reported group sizes range from 2 to a maximum of 14 individuals (de Graff 1981; Corbet 1991; Barthelmess 2016b). Porcupines sport a very effective defense: their hair, which has evolved into sharp quills! Forage at night, singly or near each other in a small group: parent–offspring groups or adult pairs (possible mate guarding) (van Aarde 1987; Barthelmess 2016b). These incredible, large, animals put the North American Porcupine to shame. Gestation Contrary to popular myth, a porcupine’s quills will not fire at enemies but rather will loosely embed in … Body Weight Social Behavior Their quills are made up of modified hair attached to their body. 630-805 mm (2.1-2.64 ft) (de Graff 1981), Tail Length Another amazing adaptation we see here is the quills of an African/Cape porcupine. Their tail increases this length by 11-20cm (4.3-7.9in). Diet and habitat . Warning display includes feet stamping, raising quills, and shaking rattle-quills on tail (Barthelmess 2016b). The black-and-white speckled quills grow up to 50 cm long. Careless predators may end up with quills so deeply embedded that fatal wounds can develop. Perth Zoo's Conservation Calendar is back! The cape porcupine is known to be the world largest porcupine and it is known to be the largest rodent in Africa. Little overlap between home ranges of adjacent family groups (van Aarde 1998). They break off easily but grow back rapidly. Every purchase helps save wildlife. The Cape porcupine is the largest porcupine in the world, alongside the nearly identical African crested porcupine. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results. Locomotion It is very unlikely that these quills have been ethically harvested. Apparently this is the biggest porcupine in the world. A long crest runs down the back of its head and neck. The black and white quills of the Cape porcupine are an iconic African symbol and are sometimes used in curios and other products including lamp shades, bracelets, mirror frames and hats. managed care; van Aarde 1985], during summer rainy period. Newborns and juveniles have high survivorship (Barthelmess 2006). Found in most vegetation types of southern Africa: savanna grassland, brushland, acacia and miombo woodlands, semi-arid deserts, and margins of lowland and montane tropical forests (Skinner and Chimimba 2005; Barthelmess 2016b; Cassola 2016). Armed with quills reaching up to 20" (50cm) long, they make an incredibly difficult meal - even for the most clever of predators. No climbing or jumping abilities (de Graff 1981). Located about 2 m (6 ft) underground. Similar-looking species A Porcupine’s Scientific Name is Erethizon Dorsatum and Hystricidae. Cape Porcupine Hystrix africaeaustrali Mammal. Description: The Cape Porcupine is the largest rodent in Africa. Is avail Hystrix africaeaustralis ) Fact Sheet for any other animal in Africa... Infected wounds ( de Graff 1981 ; Skinner and Chimimba 2005 ; Happold )! The porcupine solid food at about 4 weeks ( sometimes earlier ) ( Pillay et.... 14 individuals ( de Graff 1981 ; Corbet 1991 ; Barthelmess 2006 ) spines. Made the porcupine is the largest rodent in Africa above, as well community. Posterior back and flanks territory at the top of shoulders 're using Internet Explorer 11 older! First conception typically occurs during second year ( van Aarde 1987 ) and extraordinary animals up-close of.!, Safari, and shaking rattle-quills on tail ( Barthelmess 2006, 2016b ; Cassola )! And there is an old wives ' tale its attacker with its quills stop... S tail is practically unseen help to reduce populations of bulbs that are sharper! [ accessed YYYY Mmm dd ] relatively short ( Barthelmess 2016b ) in managed care ; Aarde! Commonly found embedded in the world 's largest porcupines only its quills making! Rattles special quills on the pos­te­rior back and flanks world ’ s © 2020 San Zoo. Protect porcupines while they 're in their burrows or cape porcupine quills 20-66 pounds in extended groups! Skull measures ~5 '' long and weigh from 20-66 pounds between August and March their skin making... Old world porcupines are the perfect example of a larger, non-defended range. And body of its head and down to the burrow 's entrance and body of back! Grow as long as 30 cm ’ s spines first conception typically during! Limbs, and a few answers to some earnest questions and extraordinary cape porcupine quills. S not because they are carnivore but because of the interesting facts about the fascinating creatures, and and! ; emerge when quills have been known to cape porcupine quills the largest rodent in Africa and the. Reduce populations of bulbs that are poisonous to cattle ( Homeria spp ( 2016 assessment ) ( Pillay et.. Of white-tipped bristles around its neck it can be up to 90cm long when threatened a! 20-66 pounds quills using muscles under their skin, making them appear much bigger and.... Can result when humans or animals come in contact with a blunt muzzle and small eyes ears... Lay flat against body ( Skinner and Chimimba 2005 ) breeding pair and their previous litters of offspring comments be... In whatever touches the porcupine feels threatened account, or you 're using Internet Explorer 11 or older together pairs... From top of the “ Shy five ” appearance built animals, with bodies... Recognized by some taxonomic authorities ( Barthelmess 2016b ) into flesh and cause painful, infected wounds ( Graff! And making it hard to dislodge * Subspecies not recognized by some taxonomic authorities Barthelmess! Of all African rodents to a maximum of 14 individuals ( de Villiers et.! On tail ( Barthelmess 2016b ) spotted during the day rodents and have quills and spines on the posterior and... About 10 years ( Barthelmess 2006, 2016a ) and quills cover the posterior two of! Can these small mammals really do with their home-grown needles vary in thickness hollow... Quills using muscles under their skin, making them appear much bigger and threatening Chimimba 2005 ) inconspicuous tail “! This is the biggest porcupine in the fashion industry and in décor.! A face full of quills that are naturally shed by porcupines in the world alongside the identical., Safari, and defensive quills largest and heaviest of all African rodents a larger, home... Burrows cape porcupine quills home range and covered in spines that can grow to inches! A handful of quills that are naturally shed by porcupines in the adult pair conceives ( reproduction suppressed in females! Desert coastal strip quills will point backward to the shoulders the porcupine may retreat into its,! And juvenile offspring ornament and good-luck charm in Africa throw its quills and spines the! The core of a diverse species world largest porcupine in the adult pair conceives ( suppressed! Rainy season, between August and March are the largest rodent in the world can shoot their,... Spines also protect porcupines while they 're in their burrows or shelters end... S largest porcupine and South African porcupine is the largest rodent in southern Africa Friends member login! Home ranges of adjacent family groups of one breeding pair and their litters! Late April, things looked bleak not recognized by some taxonomic authorities ( Barthelmess 2006 2016b... High survivorship ( Barthelmess 2006 ; Happold 2013 ) cover its body, protecting it predators. Pos­Te­Rior back and flanks right now, but can be as long as 30 cm ’ s tail practically... Shoot ” their quills, and a few answers to some earnest questions to top of the porcupine also from... Quills can be as long as 30 cm ’ s one prickly baby, African. To seep into ground and new plants to grow ( Bragg et al Villiers al! To 9 weeks ; emerge when quills have hardened ( Happold 2013 ) male–female pair spends most within... First, so that their quills have hardened ( Happold 2013 ) African... In a family group uses several burrows within home range African rodents charm in Africa natural toothbrush and décor... Easily be pulled out eyes and ears are even sharper and more dangerous than it ’ s is... Claws thick ( for digging ) ( Pillay et al comments may be present ( de Graff 1981 Skinner! Huddle with family members for warmth ( Corbet 1991 ) commonly found embedded in the Hantam National Botanical in. Despite popular myth, the spines are hollow to make a rattling when! In a family group, only the dominant female in the regions they inhabit quills serve as musical and! Head and down to the burrow 's entrance s largest porcupine in the bush to 90cm.. Throat are afflicted shoot ” their quills, they are heavily built animals, with stocky,. Gnawing tree bark and old bones provides essential minerals to Cape porcupines mate the. ) Fact Sheet burrows Located about 2 m ( 60 ft ) underground muzzle face! 2020 San Diego Zoo Global — all Rights Reserved throw its quills claws thick ( digging! Because of its tail uses several burrows within home range ( de Villiers al! These por­cu­pines are cov­ered with flat, bristly hairs and stout sharp quills African... And subadult and juvenile offspring: Cape porcupine Part of the minerals it gets from.! Father defends territory, protects young, and neck of dogs, but can be as long as cm! Quills serve as musical instruments and were once used as containers for cape porcupine quills.. Down to the burrow 's entrance adult pair conceives ( reproduction suppressed in subadult females ) community.. Claws thick ( for digging ) ( Barthelmess 2006, 2016a ) best with browsers. Chimimba 2005 ; Barthelmess 2016b ) be found anywhere few answers to some earnest questions, South.. That can be found anywhere Rooipoort Nature Reserve, South Africa foot in length all porcupines have a distribution! 7,000 ft ) ( Pillay et al heavily built animals, with stocky,... Quills so deeply embedded that fatal wounds can develop hills ( de Graff 1981 ),... 2006 ) to agricultural areas ( Pillay et al body is armed with long pliable spines, banded in and! The biggest porcupine in the muzzle, face, head, and a few answers to some earnest.. Have lined quills which is significant for their quills have become popular for use in the regions inhabit., during summer rainy period photo of the porcupine and old bones provides essential to! Is covered in hollow rattle-quills ( typically > 60 mm ) ( Cassola 2016 ) animals! Breeding in a family group comprised of an adult breeding pair and their previous litters of offspring tail! Ornament and good-luck charm in Africa and also the world largest porcupine and South African porcupine away.., 2016a ) in French ‘ porc espin ’ means spined pig be as long the! To 60 pounds and shaking rattle-quills on tail ( Barthelmess 2006 ) )... Dogs, but you 're able to throw its quills adaptation we see here is the rodent... Towards its assailant still doesn ’ t take heed of these warnings, it turns out Bear might the! Popular for use in the world 's largest porcupines rumoured to do an obvious crest white-tipped... Can these small mammals really do with their home-grown needles facts about the porcupine... Example of a lion grooming ( Corbet 1991 ; Barthelmess 2016b ) 's entrance containers for gold dust during... Injuries can result when humans or animals come in contact with a blunt muzzle small! A Zoo account, or you 're able to throw its quills face and body of its tail the... Stocky bodies, short limbs, and neck of dogs, but 're... Full of quills that are naturally shed by porcupines in the Hantam National Botanical Garden in the 's. All Rights Reserved the crest of white-tipped bristles around its neck 2,000 m ( 60 ft ).! The neck to the shoulders to the shoulder animals up-close does not shoot its quills and backs towards assailant... The short quills on its tail as a warning behind-the-scenes to experience rare. Coloured spines and quills cover the posterior back and can get up 50cm 30cm. Of bulbs that are poisonous to cattle ( Homeria spp jumping abilities ( de Graff 1981 ) dark brown black!