North African crested porcupine, African crested porcupine
The Crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata) is a species of rodent native to Italy, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. It is one of the largest rodents in the world. Crested porcupines live up to 28 years, the second-longest of any rodent after the naked mole-rat, which can live in excess of 37 years.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
Grazing is a method of feeding in which a herbivore feeds on plants such as grasses, or other multicellular organisms such as algae. In agriculture...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Monogamy is a form of relationship in which both the male and the female has only one partner. This pair may cohabitate in an area or territory for...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Almost the entire body of the porcupine is covered with bristles which are either dark brown or black and rather coarse. This mammal is recognizable by the quills that run along the head, nape, and back that can be raised into a crest, hence the name crested porcupine. Also, some sturdier quills which are about 35 cm (14 in) in length run along the sides and back half of the body. These sturdier quills are used, for the most part, for defense and are usually marked with light and dark bands which alternate; these are not firmly attached. This porcupine has a short tail which has rattle quills at the end. The rattle quills broaden at the terminal end and the broad portion is hollow with thin walls. When these quills are vibrated, they produce a hiss-like rattle. The front feet of the Crested porcupine have four developed and clawed digits with a regressed thumb, the rear feet have five. The paws have naked and padded soles and have a plantigrade gait. The ears are external and both the eyes and ears are very small with long vibrissae on its head.
These rodents inhabit forests, rocky and mountainous areas, croplands and sandhill deserts of Italy, Sicily and the Mediterranean coast of Africa up to northern Zaire and Tanzania.
As nocturnal animals, the Crested porcupines spend their daytime hours in dens, coming out to forage by night. They are solitary foragers, taking long trips of up to 15 km each night. Meanwhile, these rodents are social animals, forming small family units of an adult pair and their offspring. These families live in complex burrow systems, where they spend their winter months without hibernating. Their quills are the primary mean of self-defense: when the animal is disturbed or threatened, the quills raise and vibrate, making the porcupine look larger than it is. If this action doesn't work, it will stamp its feet, vibrate its quills, attacking the opponent back first in order to stab the rival with thicker and shorter quills on its back end.
These herbivorous (lignivorous) rodents mainly consume bark, roots, tubers, rhizomes, bulbs, fallen fruits and cultivated crops, complementing their diet with insects and small vertebrates. Cape porcupines are also known to gnaw on bones for calcium as well as in order to sharpen their incisors. In addition, they can use carrion on occasion.
The Crested porcupines are monogamous animals, forming long-lasting pairs. They mate in November-December. Gestation period lasts for 112 days, yielding 1 - 2 well-developed babies. The young are born in a special chamber, located in their burrow system and lined with grass. Within the first week of their lives, young porcupines begin to venture from the den, by which time their spines start hardening. During the first 2 - 3 weeks, they feed upon maternal milk, until they include solid food in their diet. Sexual maturity is reached before getting the adult weight, within 1 - 2 years old.
Due to consuming cultivated crops and gnawing on plantation trees, these rodents are persecuted and poisoned with bait by farmers as a pest species. Populations in both Europe and Africa attract hunters for their meat, which is a delicacy in some countries of North and West Africa. They are also hunted for their quills, used as ornaments and talismans. In Morocco, these animals are believed to have a pharmaceutical value, being killed and sold in large numbers to be used in traditional ‘medicines’ and witchcraft.
According to IUCN, The Crested porcupine is generally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.