Fort Wayne Children's Zoo Home

Cape Porcupine

Quick Facts

Scientific name: Hystrix africaeaustralis
Class: Mammal
Weight: 30 pounds
Conservation status: Least Concern
Life span: Up to 20 years in professional care
Number of offspring: 1-4 per litter


I Live In Central And South America

Cape porcupines enjoy warm weather! They spend their day among the rocky kopjes and will take shelter in abandoned burrows or excavate ones themselves.

I Am An Omnivore

Cape porcupines typically eat fruit, roots, bark, and have been known to eat bones and carrion. To help them break down food, they have strong font teeth that never stop growing! Chewing on hard items helps keep their powerful teeth healthy and filed down.

Masters Of Communication

Cape porcupines will make a faint hissing or grunting noises to communicate verbally with one another; however, they will also use tactile communication and warning signs such as stomping their feet and raising their quills to communicate.

Covered In Quills

We’ll save you the trouble of counting! All porcupines, big and small, have the same average number of quills at 30,000. Porcupine quills are made out of the same material as our hair, and similar to our hair, their quills also fall out and grow back.

We’re here to squash the rumor that porcupines shoot out their quills as a form of defense! Porcupines do not shoot out quills; instead, when feeling threatened, their first instinct is to freeze and then make themselves big, turn backward, and run into the predator.

Helping Cape Porcupines in the Wild

The cape porcupines at the Zoo are enrolled in the Species Survival Plan (SSP). SSP is a program implemented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to help ensure a genetically viable population exists.

I Am Important To My Ecosystem

Cape porcupines play a positive role in their ecosystem by their foraging and turning soil. Their foraging contributes to the maintenance of the plants and their foraging habits open up soil surfaces, which allows water to seep into the ground to promote new growth.



Learn more about our efforts, our conservation partners around the world, and the simple steps you can take to contribute.