Crested Porcupine


Cape Porcupine

Scientific Name

Hystrix africaeaustralis 



The cape porcupine is the largest porcupine in the world. They are so-called because their quills can be raised into a ‘crest’ on their back. Porcupines have short bodies and are mostly dark brown and black in colour.

Porcupines’ quills are about 35cm long and very sharp; if under attack, porcupines will raise the quills on their back to intimidate their attacker. They may also stamp their feet and move their quills to produce a rattling sound. As a last resort, they will charge at a predator and attempt to stab it with their quills. The deep wounds inflicted from these attacks can prove fatal.

Porcupines are monogamous. The females have one litter per year and usually birth between 1-3 offspring (porcupettes). Porcupettes usually begin roaming from the nest once they are about a week old; at this young age their spines begin to harden too.


The cape porcupine has a mostly herbivorous diet but occasionally supplements its diet with carrion (the flesh of dead animals) and small vertebrates.

Size Fact

Porcupines can weigh up to 30kg.

Food Fact

Porcupine meat is considered a delicacy in north and west Africa.

Fun Fact

The word porcupine is derived from Old French ‘porc-espin’, meaning ‘spiny pig’!

IUCN Red list

Cape porcupines are currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN red list. 

Where do I live?

The cape porcupine lives in Africa, some parts of mainland Italy and on the island of Sicily.

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