Fun Old World Porcupine Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Jan 10, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Old World porcupine facts

Old World porcupines belonging to the Hystricidae family. The various members of the Hystricidae, the Old World porcupines family includes the African-crested porcupine, Asiatic-brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus Africanus), Crested porcupine (Hystrix Cristata), Indian-crested porcupine, long-tailed porcupine (Trichys Fasciculata), Sumatran porcupine, Philippine porcupine (Hystrix Pumila), and the Indian porcupine (Hystrix Indica).

The various species can be found in parts of Europe, Africa, India, Southeast Asia.

These porcupines are known to inhabit rock crevices, forests, hillsides, and deserts. These are terrestrial porcupines and most are found on the grounds and do not climb trees like their equivalent New World porcupines who are arboreal and have adapted to climb trees.

This species are heavily built and stout. These have hollow quills or spines which make a noise when struck together.

These are also sharp quills or spines that are used to attack predators.

The various species of this thick-spined porcupine differ and can range from small long-tailed porcupines to large crested porcupines. The tail of some species is short while the tail is up to the head-body length in some species.

Old World porcupine homes are underground burrows that are dug by these porcupines themselves and are lined with grass. These porcupines give birth to one or two pups after a gestation period of about 90-112 days.

Sexual maturity in these species is reached at about two years of age.

New World porcupines and the Old World porcupines belong to the same family and order but are known to be not related closely. It is quite interesting to know about the species or members of the Old World porcupines (Hystricidae family) and if you are interested, read about the fox squirrel facts and the gray fox facts too.

Old World Porcupine Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Old World porcupine?

These animals are porcupines.

What class of animal does an Old World porcupine belong to?

It belongs to the class of Mammalia.

How many Old World porcupines are there in the world?

There has been no specific number of porcupines recorded or estimated.

Where does an Old World porcupine live?

The range of these porcupines includes Europe, India, Africa, and Southeast Asia.  

What is an Old World porcupine's habitat?

These porcupines inhabit forests, hillsides, deserts, and rocky rugged areas. These porcupines prefer rocky areas or habitats. These can be seen in rocky areas that are high up to 12,000 ft (3700 m).

Who does Old World porcupine live with?

These porcupines tend to live alone and thus, are solitary animals.

How long does an Old World porcupine live?

These porcupines can live up to 15 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction system is not monogamous in this species. When females are receptive or ready to mate, they will present or display their hindquarters and curve or put their tail back so that its spines or quills do not hurt the male.

The Old World porcupine nest is made or built with grass and it's hidden in sort of an underground burrow. After a gestation period of about 90-112 days, one or two young ones are born.

Young ones are born almost developed and the full weaning is not until 13-19 weeks after birth. These porcupines mature sexually at about two years of age.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of these porcupines is Not Extinct.

Old World Porcupine Fun Facts

What does an Old World porcupine look like?

These porcupines are round or plump and are heavily built. These porcupines have round heads and fleshy snouts. The coats of these porcupines are thick and cylindrical and sometimes flattened spines.

These spines cover the whole body and do not get tangled with hair. Old World porcupine quills or the spines can get detached easily when touched and get inserted into the body of predators. The species of these porcupines differ and can range from small long-tailed porcupines to large crested porcupines.

In some species, the tail is very long while some have short tails. The limbs are short and both the forefeet have claws that are well-developed. The eyes and ears of these porcupines are short and small.

Fun Old World Porcupine Facts For Kids

How cute are they?

These porcupine species are not considered cute by people.

How do they communicate?

These porcupines have rattle quills on their tails that are large, elongated, and hollow. These quills are known to strike each other when the shaking of the tail happens. This produces sounds that are loud and these sounds are known to be used for communication especially during mating or courtship and to warn off predators.

How big is an Old World porcupine?

The size of these porcupines depends on the various species and the size could range from 11-33 in (27-83 cm).

How fast can an Old World porcupine move?

The exact speed of this species is unknown but porcupines are not very fast movers and are known to move swiftly and slowly.

How much does an Old World porcupine weigh?

The weight of these porcupines depends on different species and can range from 3.3-60 lb (1.5-27 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Females are known as sows and males are known as boars.

What would you call a baby Old World porcupine?

A baby porcupine is called a porcupette or pup.

What do they eat?

The diet of this porcupine species consists of plant materials and crops. They are known to eat fruits, bulbs, and roots. Sometimes, they are also known to eat carrion and chew bones for calcium. These animals also chew on bark, and branches of trees. This is done in order to keep incisors worn down to appropriate levels.

Are they poisonous?

These porcupines are not poisonous but their shafts may have bacteria that can lead to serious infections if the punctures are deep. Also, the quills of these porcupines should be pulled out or taken out of humans and other pets as quickly as possible, as it can prove to be fatal otherwise.

Would they make a good pet?

In some states, it is legal to keep these porcupines as pets and they can be trained to some extent but it is required to be very careful as it is a solitary animal and can be aggressive sometimes when agitated. These porcupines can carry fleas and ticks which can transmit diseases.

Did you know...

The species includes African-crested porcupine, Asiatic-brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus Africanus), Crested porcupine (Hystrix Cristata), Indian-crested porcupine, long-tailed porcupine (Trichys Fasciculata, genus Trichys), Sumatran porcupine, Philippine porcupine (Hystrix Pumila), Indian porcupine (Hystrix Indica).  

Old-World porcupines, just like other rodents have gnawing incisors and do not have canine teeth. Some other interesting rodents with these characteristics are agouti, and Chinese hamsters.

Just like other rodents, Old-World porcupine teeth grow continuously and must be worn down to an appropriate level.

The quills of porcupines are known to be pre-medicated and do not necessarily lead to infections and this is to prevent self-quilling accidentally and is known to be a defense mechanism.

A very common myth of these porcupines is that they can throw their quills but it is not true. The quills can fall off occasionally.

The word porcupine has its roots in the French language and is known to be derived from the French word porc d'espine which means thorny pig.

Old World porcupines are known to be excellent diggers.

The crested porcupines, known to be classical representatives of old world porcupines are found in parts of Europe and Africa, particularly North and West Africa, and in the southern and central part of Africa, Cape porcupines are found. Indian crested porcupine and Malayan porcupine are found in India.

These porcupines are known to be plantigrade which means that they put their full soles on the ground when they walk.

Almost 11 species and three genera of this family are found in Asia and Africa.

The genera Hystrix is known to be characterized or distinguished by a massive or inflated skull. These porcupines are known to wag their tails and make a loud noise to scare the predator.

The old world porcupines do not have a good sight or eyesight but are known to have a sharp or great sense of smell and hearing.

Males and females of this species or family are known to be aggressive towards unknown or unrelated porcupines and intruders.

It is believed that porcupines evolved from hedgehogs. Porcupines evolved due to predators who used to attack hedgehogs from all sides for food and it is believed that the New World porcupines' quills have evolved independently by convergent evolution.

Some predators of these porcupines include lions, hyenas, pythons. These porcupines are also hunted by humans for their meat and also sought because of their quills which are used for making ornaments.

These porcupines are known to be nocturnal and most active during the day or daylight.

Do they bite?

Porcupines are known to bite.

What is the difference between a New World porcupine and an Old-World porcupine?

Both porcupines belong to the family Hystricidae.

Old World porcupines are most commonly found in Asia and Africa while the New World porcupines are found in North America and Northern South America.

The quills in the Old World porcupines are formed or inserted in a cluster while the new world porcupines' quills are distributed or dispersed with bristles.

Old World porcupines are terrestrial while the New World porcupines are arboreal rodents.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these paca facts facts and field vole facts facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our free printable old world porcupine coloring pages.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

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Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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