Coendou

(Coendou prehensilis)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in forests and low-lying jungles in Central and South America, throughout Venezuela, Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Trinidad, and northern parts of Argentina.

Size: 16 inches long; 9-13 pounds

Wild Diet: Leaves, fruit, roots, stems, berries, seeds, flowers, and some agricultural crops like corn and bananas

Predators: Humans and feral dogs

Reproduction: Coendous are ready to mate at 19 months and they breed year-round. Females usually give birth to a single offspring after a gestation of 6-7 months. Babies are born with their eyes open and can climb trees within a few days. They will nurse for about 10 weeks.

Behavior: Coendous are nocturnal and mostly arboreal, descending to the ground only to forage or to move to another tree. During the day they rest in tree cavities. They are usually solitary but will sometimes sleep in small groups. When relaxed, they allow quills to rest flat on their skin, but quills will stand up perpendicular to the body when they are threatened or irritated. This makes them difficult to grab and makes them appear larger. They also warn attackers with clicks, grunts, tooth chattering, and quill rattling.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Though they are difficult to study, coendous are thought to be distributed over a wide range that spans many protected areas. They have tolerated moderate habitat modification by humans and are not declining at a rate necessary to be considered vulnerable.

Did you know?

  • Coendous (also called prehensile-tailed porcupines) communicate with a variety of vocalizations including moans, yelps, grunts, mews, hisses, squeaks, barks and wails.
  • Their long tails, used for grasping and hanging, make up almost 10 percent of their body weight.
  • Their quills are barbed and loosely attached. If a predator tries to bite or grab the coendou, it gets a face or paw full of quills.