Porcupines: What You Should Know

Porcupines are rodents. They are found in Africa and much of southern Asia. In Europe, you can only find them in Italy. On these three continents, they are the largest rodents. There are no porcupines in America. On the other hand, the only rodent that is even larger lives in South America: the capybara.

There are eleven different species of porcupines. Therefore they are very different. Their size ranges from half a meter to over a meter. Their weight ranges from one and a half to 24 kilograms. All species have spines on their backs. However, the head is mostly without spines, often also the front part of the back. Porcupines are therefore often eaten by their enemies: red foxes, lions, leopards, hyenas, and jackals.

How do porcupines live?

Only one species in Asia can climb trees. All others live on the ground. During the day they sleep in caves they have dug themselves or in someone else’s, abandoned caves, or in crevices in the rocks. They pad their sleeping quarters with parts of plants.

At night they look for their food. They eat roots and grasses, fruit, bark, and young shoots. In agriculture, they can wreak havoc by preying on sweet potatoes, melons, squashes, corn, and other crops that humans want for themselves. In the savannah, they damage the trees by gnawing off the bark.

A male and a female stay true to each other for life. Pregnancy lasts three to four months. The mother usually gives birth to one to three young. After birth, the little ones immediately open their eyes. Your hair is soft. Only later do hard spines develop from them. Babies drink milk from their mothers for about two months. The father also takes part in the care.

Porcupines live together in groups of up to fourteen animals. They also defend themselves together. They live quite a long time, up to twenty years in captivity.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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