African Crested Porcupine

Hystrix africaeaustralis

Lookin' Sharp

The African crested porcupine is the largest species of porcupine in the world. They are nocturnal, spending most of their day sleeping.

About the Species

The African crested porcupine is one of the largest members of the rodent family.

Rodents are mammals that include rats, mice, porcupines, beavers, and more. Rodents, such as our African crested porcupines, have ever growing front teeth (called incisors). Because of this, they must grind their teeth down to prevent them from growing right into their mouth and preventing them from being able to eat. We provide our porcupine girls with logs and branches to chew on, in addition to crunchy food items. The African crested porcupines we have here at the Zoo are actually sisters! You can see them sleeping together, with their quills facing outwards. This is a natural behavior. African crested porcupines in the wild often steal burrows from other animals, and will sleep head first with their quills facing outwards. No one ever wants to go in after that!

Words From the Experts


You will often hear the keepers at the Zoo refer to these porcupines as Hystrix after their scientific name, Hystrix africaeaustralis, because African Crested porcupine is such a mouthful.


Did You Know?

Porcupines cannot shoot their quills as many believe. Their quills are made up of modified hair, and is attached to their body. However, when chased by a predator, a porcupine will stop suddenly, causing the predator to run into the quills. The quills have a tiny barb on the end, causing the quill to be stuck in the predator. This gives the illusion that the porcupine "threw" its quills.



Southern Africa


Found almost anywhere that vegetation is available, although prefers open areas to wooded ones


2-3 feet in length / over 20-65 pounds


Bark, roots, fruits, berries


Large predators, such as lions, leopards, and hyenas

Natural Defenses



1-4 offspring per litter. Young porcupines are called porcupettes.


Least Concern

Life Expectancy

Between 15-20 years

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