The porcupine is a very large rodent whose characteristic feature is the strong and pointed quills that cover its tail, sides and top of the body, which are black and white and 30-40 cm long. The head is large and robust and the feet have strong claws that make them excellent diggers.
Peaceful and retiring, they are only aggressive when they feel threatened: sticking out their quills, pounding on the ground with their feet and emitting loud cries. And if that weren’t enough, they roll up into balls. They can cause serious injuries to aggressors, as the quills can penetrate deeply and also come off the animal very easily.
Their area of distribution includes north Africa and a broad central strip ranging from Senegal to the west to Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania in the east. They have also been introduced to central and southern Italy, Sicily and some regions of Albania and Yugoslavia. Highly adaptable, they can live on savannahs, sub-desert and rocky regions and forests. They feed on roots, tubercles, bark, tender shoots and fruit after it falls off the trees.
The porcupine is a solitary animal that only forms small family groups. Gestation lasts 2 months and a single baby is normally born, at times two, with soft and flexible quills that obtain their definitive consistency in only 10 days.
Their populations are disappearing in many parts of their area of distribution due to being persecuted due to being considered as damaging to crops.