a field with a cape porcupine in Emerald Park

Cape porcupine

Hystrix africaeaustralis
Conservation Status IUCN
Least Concern

For more info on classifications visit

endangered list labels least concern
endangered list least concern sign
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    Animal Class
    Mammal, Rodentia
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    Savannah, Shrubland & Grassland. They are highly adaptable animals that will live anywhere that resources are available.
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    Herbivores – consuming tree bark, roots, tubers, bulbs, fallen fruit and cultivated crops.
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    Conservation Status
    Least concern
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  • Introduction

    Cape porcupine is a member of the order Rodentia and are the largest rodent species in Africa.

    Also known as South African porcupines, they are “Old World”, porcupines that will often shelter in caves and aardvark holes as well as burrows, that they will dig for themselves.

    Quills of the cape porcupine are used as their defence mechanism and will be raised and fanned to ward off predators. If the predator does not retreat, they will stamp their feet and rattle their quills. If that fails, they will charge, back end first, to stab with their shorter thicker quills.

    Porcupines are mainly nocturnal but can sometimes be seen during the day. They are generally solitary foragers but will live in small family groups.

    Long claws help them to dig up roots and tubers.

    Size: Weighing up to 30kg they have quills that range in length and some can get up to 30cm long.

  • Threats/ Conservation

    Least concern:

    There population is stable throughout with some hunting occurring in its range.

    Porcupines are sometimes hunted for human consumption in most parts of its range and is considered an agricultural pest.

  • Habitat

    Cape porcupine are a widespread species that can be found throughout central and southern Africa. They are highly adaptable animals with a high tolerance for habitat modification and so they can be found in a range of habitats.

  • Fun Facts

    The Cape porcupines feeding behaviour has an important impact on the plant communities in the habitats that they live. Through selective foraging they allow space, for growth, of new plants, increasing biodiversity in their habitat.

    They are monogamous, meaning they mate with one partner. Litters of 1 – 4 are born, after a gestational period of approximately 3 months, into the parent’s den. Parents will care for the young together and family groups will be living together. They will have one litter per year.

    Porcupines do not throw their quills when under threat, this is a myth.