(Last Updated on : 21-12-2013)
Porcupines (Hystricidae) are the largest Asiatic rodents characterized by long quills. Adult animals may weigh up to eighteen kilograms. Three species occur in the subcontinent. The most common is the Crested Porcupine, Hystrix indica, which is distributed from Kashmir to Cape Comorin and Sri Lanka. In the west it occurs in the Middle East, up to Israel. The Crested Himalayan Porcupine is found in Nepal, Assam
, Burma, Thailand, kampuchia and northwards in parts of China. The Brush-tailed Porcupine, Atherurus macrourus is also available in Assam
Porcupine favours rocky hillsides but is also adapted to live in burrows in the sand-dunes in the desert. It is strictly nocturnal, venturing out only well after dark. Usually they live in pairs but sometimes singly. Their burrow has a number of openings and the tunnels are very long. The animal moves along regular runs or pathways. It is herbivorous, feeding on tree bark, roots, bulbs, tubers and fruits. At certain places it is very destructive to plantation and tuber crops. In the said state, breeding of this rodent is reported during the month of March and April but in the Jodhpur
zoos, the female littered from the month of March to December.
Porcupine is well protected due to its spiny armour and it is known to tackle larger carnivores. However, it is preyed upon by panther, hyena and jackal.
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