Hystrix africaeaustralis

Cape Porcupine

The Cape Porcupine is distributed from northern Kenya to South Africa. They can be found in a variety of habitat types such as savannah, steppes, semi-arid deserts or lowland rainforests.

Length 50 to 70 cm
Weight up to 30kg
Lifespan 15 years
Diet Roots, tubers, leaves and fruits
Habitat Savanna, steppes, deserts or forests
Reproduction max. 3 cubs
IUCN Red List Status
Not evaluated
Data deficient
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered

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The Cape Porcupine is the largest rodent in South Africa. It has a body covered in flat, raised fur, and on the back of its back, it has spines that provide highly effective protection against its predators. These spines can reach up to 50 cm in length. On average, females are 1kg heavier than males.



They have crepuscular and nocturnal activity. They are solitary animals but can form small groups. They build underground burrows where they breed and defend themselves from predators. When they feel threatened, they raise and shake their spines to appear larger. If the threat still approaches, they turn their backs and try to hit it with their thorns. After losing a few thorns, they quickly regrow them.



Due to their dangerous anatomy, the female initiates copulation by presenting herself to the male. They are monogamous and reproduce once a year. Gestation lasts about 3 months and a maximum of 3 offspring are born. The offspring are born with about 331g and are relatively well developed, with open eyes and small spines, which will harden over the first weeks.

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