Crested Porcupine


The body of the crested porcupine is covered with coarse, dark brown or black bristles.  Quills along the head, neck and back can be raised into a crest.  Sturdier quills about 20 inches long adorn the sides and back half of the body, and are generally marked with alternating light and dark bands.  The soles of the paws are naked, but have pads on them for protection.  Both the eyes and ears (which are external) are very small.  At birth the young’s body is covered with short hair and back spines that are still soft.  These spines begin to harden after about one week.


This species lives in an extensive burrow system, caves, rock crevices or aardvark holes.  They are terrestrial, rarely climbing trees, but are able to swim.  The crested is distinct among old world porcupines due to its shorter tail and the presence of rattle quills on the end of the tail, which make a hiss-like rattle when they vibrate.  When disturbed or threatened, they raise and fan the quills to create an illusion of greater size.  If the disturbance continues, they stamp their feet, raise quills and charge with their back end first.  They attempt to stab with the thicker, shorter quills.  Such attacks have been known to kill lions, leopard, hyenas and humans. 

Did You Know?  

  • The forefeet of the crested porcupine have 4 clawed digits, but the hind feet have 5.
  • The crested porcupine is the largest porcupine on earth, and can weigh in around 50 pounds!
  • Despite popular myths, Porcupines cannot shoot their quills at predators.

Our Animals

We have one male crested here at PPZ, but his age is unknown.  He’s been with us since early 2002, and he loves his veggie treats!


Scientific Name Hystrix cristata
Conservation Status IUCN: Least Concern
Size The crested porcupine is huge compared to other porcupines! It can be up to 3 feet in length, and weigh over 50 pounds.
Average Lifespan The lifespan of the crested porcupine is around 15 years.
Wild Diet Bark, roots, tubers, bulbs, fruits
Found in Northern Africa, Italy and Sicily