Porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis)

Conservation Status

Least Concern (LC)

Physical Description

Large rodent covered in long black and white quills angling back from head. The top of the head is covered in long brown-white hairs swept back.
Weight 10-24kg
Size 75-100cm length
Lifespan (wild) 12-15 years
Lifespan (captivity) Unknown


Mostly solitary, but also seen in pairs or family groups. It is nocturnal and lies up in cover during the day in caves, rocks, burrows, or thick vegetation. Burrows are often identified by the accumulation of gnawed bones littering the entrance. Foraging for food is often a solitary activity. When threatened, they turn their backs towards the danger and rattle their quills. They may also run backwards or sideways to impale a predator, but contrary to belief, they are incapable of ‘shooting’ their quills at an attacker.

Social and Reproduction

Predominantly solitary, but sometimes found in pairs and family groups.

Mating System Polygamy (Polgyny)
Breeding interval Once yearly, but can breed more frequently
Breeding season May through December.
Gestation 93-94 days
Number of offspring 1-4 offspring born in summer, each weighing about 100-300g. They are well developed at birth and begin moving around within a few hours.

Habitat and Food


Wide habitat tolerance for all but open dunes; prefers broken, rocky country.


Vegetarian; tree bark, seed pods, tsamas melons, but has also been recorded eating from carcasses and readily gnaws bones for calcium.


Lions, leopards, and humans.

Conservation Challenges

Porcupine can become notorious crop raiders and dangers for domestic pets and children.

Naankuse Solutions

Injured or orphaned porcupine are taken in and rehabilitated and released.


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Porcupine at Naankuse sites