Animals / Mammal Facts / Rodents - Most Populous Group of Mammals / Porcupines - Old and New World Rodents with Quill Defense

Porcupines - Old and New World Rodents with Quill Defense

hystrix and erethizon


Porcupines have been around for quite some time, long enough that they have two different family lines, one in the Americas and one in the Old World. They are rodents, and they have an appearance that gives them away immediately. They are hairy for the most part and have long spines (quills) on their backs. Although, because of the spines, they may look like hedgehogs, they are not related. Hedgehogs are insectivore mammals.



Erethizon dorsatum eating flower


coendou central america

Prehensile-tailed porcupine - Coendou prehensilis




porcupine quills fend off lion


In the old world order (Africa and Asia) there are at least twelve known species. They are primarily night creatures and live in burrows. In the Americas the porcupine family has around nineteen species. Unlike the old world porcupines, the new world porcupines have adapted to tree climbing (Although they are not the most agile climbers, they get it done.), they use their tails when climbing, are not as nocturnal and are mostly smaller.


Erethizon dorsatum tree


baby porcupine


Males and females, in both the old and the new world look about the same. The types of foods they like to nibble on are roots, bark and plants. These rodents mark their territory with their scent and are known to squeek, grunt and make other sounds communicating.


watch it quills






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