Indian Crested Porcupine

(Hystrix indica)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in rocky hills, deserts, and forests of Turkey, throughout Southwest Asia to India. Similar porcupine species occur in Southeast Asia, Sumatra, Java and neighboring islands.

Size: 2-3 feet long; 35-60 pounds; quills can be over a foot long

Wild Diet: Fruits, nuts, bulbs, roots, and bark. They may chew on bones to meet their need for calcium.

Predators: Humans, tigers, and other wild cats

Lifespan: Up to 20 years

Reproduction: Females give birth to a litter of 1-4 young porcupines after a 112-day gestation period. Two litters per year are common. Babies are born with soft quills that harden after a few hours. Porcupines are very protective of their young and lick them as a form of social bonding.

Behavior: Indian crested porcupines are mostly nocturnal. During the day, they rest in self-constructed burrows with multiple tunnels. They usually forage alone, except for when mothers are teaching their young.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Currently, Indian crested porcupine numbers are stable. However, as with many wild species, habitat loss may eventually mean fewer porcupines. They are sometimes hunted as pests because they love to eat human-grown crops and are hunted in some countries for their meat and quills. The quills are used as decoration and religious symbols.

Did you know?

If a porcupine is not able to escape a predator by running away, it will raise its quills to appear bigger, then turn its back on the predator, stamp its feet, and rattle its hollow quills. If the predator still pursues, the porcupine can thrust backward and spear the predator with the needle sharp quills near its tail. The quills come loose and stick into skin, eyes, or mouth to injure and distract the predator. Even tigers and leopards have suffered porcupine injuries!