Introduction: Porcupines (Hystrix africaeaustralis) are the largest of rodents in the southern African region. The generic name Hystrix is Greek for porcupine and africaeaustralis is the specific name indicating that they occur in the more southerly parts of Africa. An essential habitat requirement of the porcupine is shelter in which to lie up in during the day, which goes some way in explaining their preference for broken country with rocky hills and outcrops. They can be found resting in crevices in rocks or caves, but will freely use abandoned aardvark holes which they modify for their own use. They are not usually found in forests.

Porcupines are solitary animals but have been observed in pairs or a female with her offspring. They are also exclusively nocturnal but have been seen sunbathing close to the entrances of their shelters.

Distribution: They are widespread throughout Namibia and have even been recorded in the coastal parts of the Namib Desert.

Diet: Although porcupines are predominately vegetarians, they have been recorded as eating carrion. Their food includes bulbs, tubers and roots which they dig up; fallen wild fruits such as the wild fig;and they also gnaw on the bark of trees. They collect and gnaw bones as a means of combatting a phosphorous deficiency and large collections have been observed at their shelters. Their diet extends to that of farmers' crops such as groundnuts, potatoes and pumpkin.  Root vegetables such as carrots, onions and beetroot are a favourite. They are also particularly fond of beans and peas. Porcupines are classed as destructive feeders as they often damage more crops than they eat.

Colouring: Porcupines bodies are protected by a unique covering of long, pliable spines, stout, sharp defence quills and flattened bristly hairs. Both the hair and quills are white with black annulations, declining in length towards the base.

Breeding: Sexual behaviour leading up to copulation is initiated by the female. In Namibia the young are born in the summer months in grass-lined chambers in resting holes. Litters range from 1 to 4 young.

Size: Adult males have a mass of around 17kg, females 18.5kg. Some individuals have reached 24kg. Males average about 835mm in length, females slightly larger. The spines are up to 50cm in length, the quills up to 30cm.

Mammals of Namibia Wildlife of Namibia

Sorry, we can’t seem to find any matches for your search. Have a look at our popular searches below.