African Crested Porcupines are the largest species of Porcupine in the World. They have a stunning set of quills that can reach up to 30cm in length, and they use them as a defence strategy against predators. They flare them out to make themselves appear larger than they actually are, and will shake them and stomp their feet as a warning signal. If that does not scare the predator away, they will use a different tactic. Contrary to popular belief, porcupines do not “shoot” their quills, but they will charge sideways or backwards and use blunt force to stab their attacker with them. Otherwise, if the predator is chasing them they may stop suddenly so their attacker will run into the quills. Unlike their North American relatives, they do not have tiny backward-facing barbs on their quills that make removal difficult. This may be because they are much larger and have longer quills so that predators are less likely to interfere with them, to begin with.
Our African Porcupines, Prickles and Spike, love to dig holes in their enclosure, and this is a normal behaviour for Porcupines. They use their long claws to forage and search for roots and other plants to eat. They love eating fruits and vegetables and are often fed potatoes, apples, pears, bananas, grapes, melon, squash, carrots, etc. They have access to logs and other hard surfaces to gnaw on to wear their teeth down, as they are continuously growing. Prickles and Spike enjoy getting visitors, so make sure you come and see them when you stop by!