The porcupine is nature’s shield, with their dozens of long, prickly spines acting as its first line of defense. Their stretch of habitation reaches from throughout Italy, along the northern coast of Africa through Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco and then from the countries of West Africa such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Central African Republic, parts of DR Congo into eastern Africa, namely Tanzania and Ethiopia. The typical habitat of the porcupine includes higher, rocky areas with hills are its favourites and it has even been found on Mount Kilimanjaro at heights in excess of 11,000 feet. The predators of the porcupine include leopards, owls and large birds as well as pythons. They are usually around 30 inches in length and up to about 40 pounds. The spines, which cover most of their exposed body can grow up to 14 inches in length and can sometimes be harvested by humans for use in decoration or as weaponry. The quills are also considered to be good luck charms in Africa. The quills themselves are considered to be quite dangerous when used in battle with potential threats, and can be embedded in skin, where it acts like fish hooks. New quills grow to replace old quills. Young porcupines are born with soft quills after about 112 days of gestation time. While they are growing, they are playful and will be suckled for about 8 weeks after which they will begin to introduce vegetable matter to their diets. It’s not uncommon for porcupines to eat tubers and farmers crops as well as their usual diet of grubs, and occasionally they will take carrion back to their home they happen across. The females also give birth in the comfort of their own dens.

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Courtesy of Porcupine/Flickr