Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 12:01 EDT

Cape Porcupine, Hystrix africaeaustralis

The cape porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) is sometimes called the South African porcupine, and can be found in much of sub-Saharan Africa, however, it is not found in the southwestern desert regions. It is an Old World porcupine. The cape porcupine prefers to make its home in hills or rocky outcrops in dens or caves that it burrows.

The female members of this species are the largest rodents in southern Africa, weighing in at an average between forty to sixty-six pounds and they can grow to be two feet in length. The quills of this porcupine can be as long as its body and the hollow spines on the tail are used as a defensive mechanism where the porcupine will shake them to make a loud noise. When defending itself, it will either retreat into its burrow, extending its quills to make it difficult to extract, or it may become aggressive and charge the attacker to stab it with its spines.

Cape porcupines, unlike other rodents, can live to be between fifteen to twenty years and they mature very quickly. Litters of up to four young are nursed until four months of age. The diet of this porcupine consists of mainly plant materials like tubers, bark, and fruit, but it has been known to eat carrion and chew on bones. The conservation status of the cape porcupine is of “Least Concern”.

Image Caption: Cape Porcupine, Hystrix africaeaustralis. Credit: Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Cape Porcupine Hystrix africaeaustralis