African Crested Porcupine

Hystrix Cristata

Species Information

Come and meet our five spiny friends! Catch them lazing around or looking for treats around their enclosure!

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These large rodents generally live in hilly, rocky areas throughout North and sub-Saharan Africa, but are also found in Italy.

The African crested porcupine is the second largest porcupine species, after the cape porcupine. Their bodies are covered in coarse, sharp, sturdy quills which provide protection against the many predatory species they live amongst. The quills are actually made from keratin, the same protein as our finger nails.

A large range of food items make up the diet of African crested porcupines. This includes bark, fallen fruit, and root and tuber crops. They will also occasionally eat insects, small vertebrates, and carrion. They chew on bones to sharpen and trim their continuously growing incisor teeth, but this also provides a rich source of calcium.

In both the wild and captivity, they can live up to 20 years.

When confronted, African crested porcupines raise their quills along its head and back into a ‘crest’ so the body appears larger and more threatening. If the predator continues to pursue, porcupines stamp their feet, click their teeth, and rattle their quills whilst keeping the threat behind them.

These mammals are monogamous, usually mating with the same partner for life. Mating takes place at night between July – December. After a gestation period of 112 days, 1-3 porcupettes are born.

Least Concern

Despite common myth, porcupines cannot shoot their quills! But they do have special quills at their tail which make a loud hissing noise when rattled!