One animal that we do not see often, but is very interesting, is the porcupine [Hystrix africaeaustralis]. Here are some facts about these mysterious and alien-looking creatures:

• It is the largest rodent in the areas they live in and can weigh between 18 and 30kg.

• They get quite old for a rodent and survive between 12 and 15 years

• The front of the body is covered by flat hair and the posterior by spines and quills. These quills can be raised by muscles under the skin, but are not projectile as it is believed

• The difference between quills and spines is the length and thickness, with spines up to 50 cm long and quills up to 30 cm long

• The very sharp quills and spines come off when touched, but grow back very quickly

• They are strong diggers and dig for roots and bulbs

• They contain micro-organisms in their appendix that breaks down undigested plant fibers

• Porcupines are nocturnal and are rarely seen during the day

• When threatened they raise the quills and run sideways or backwards trying to penetrate the quills into the potential predator

• Other quick facts

o Weight (Female)
10 – 24 kg

• Weight (Male)
10 – 19 kg

• Length (Female)
84 cm

• Length (Male)
84 cm

• Gestation Period
7 weeks

• No of Young
1 – 4

• Birth Weight
315 g

Jacques Beukes – Kapama River Lodge