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African Crested Porcupine

Hystrix cristata

25 to 29 inches long, 18 to 50 pounds

The name “porcupine” means “quill pig” in Latin, although they are not related to pigs.

Hippo Haven

African Crested Porcupine

African Crested Porcupines, like the ones you can find on exhibit in our Hippo Haven exhibit, are the largest rodents in Africa, and the biggest porcupines on Earth. They can grow to be two-and-a-half feet long and weigh up to 50 pounds. 

And even though these are large animals, people often miss the porcupines we have on exhibit in Hippo Haven. Why? They’re nocturnal, so they’re sleeping or resting for a majority of the day. In the wild, they would find shelter in caves or holes in the ground.   

Our porcupines like to hide behind the big logs in the exhibit. We have two porcupines at the aquarium, but we only put one out on exhibit at a time. So if you visit, you’ll see either Vincent or Julian. And if you’re having trouble locating our prickly friend, crane your neck and try looking in his favorite spot. You can usually see him all snuggled up in the corner. So drop on by Zone D for a look at our cute and not-so cuddly friend!

Did you know?
When someone says “porcupine,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Their quills, of course. The African Crested Porcupine gets its name because it has a “crest” of coarse hair that runs from the top of its head to the middle of its back, like a mohawk. Then, from its back to its tail, it has long, brown-and-white striped quills. These quills are used for defense against predators. If someone or something bothers the porcupine, it will grunt and stomp its feet. If that doesn’t succeed in scaring off the attacker, the porcupine will rattle his tail, which is covered in special short, fat, hollow “rattle quills.” These quills rattle together to make noise, much like a rattlesnake’s tail. If the predator still doesn’t go away, the porcupine will spread his quills out and charge at the attacker- backwards! A lot of people think that porcupines can shoot their quills, but that isn’t true. Their quills are covered in tiny barbs, or hooks, so if a quill sticks into a predator’s skin, it won’t come back out very easily. Also, the quills aren’t attached to the porcupine very well, so once the quills are stuck into their enemy, the porcupine can release the quills and escape. The porcupine will then grow new quills to replace the lost ones.