Hunting African Porcupines
The African porcupine (Hystrix cristata), also known as the crested porcupine, is a species of rodent found in sub-Saharan Africa, and northern Africa. The word “porcupine” means “quill pig”, but the porcupine isn’t a pig, nor is it related to pigs in any way. It’s a rodent that weighs anywhere from 30 pounds to 60 pounds and is between 24 to 33 inches head and body length. There’s an old myth that the porcupine can throw its quills, but there is not a shred of truth in that. The quills detach quite easily and if a predator like a leopard or lion is hunting African porcupine, the rodent will raise up its quills, then runs backward, sideways, or jumps backward to drive the quills into the face of the predator. The quills are fairly close together, and there is a good probability of one or more puncturing a major organ or artery, which will result in a fairly rapid death for the animal.
It’s actually more likely that the quills will imbed themselves into the animal’s mouth, preventing the animal from feeding, which will result in a slow starvation and death. When excited, the porcupine grunts. If threatened, it will stamp its hind feet and rattle its quills. This produces a sound not unlike a diamondback rattlesnake with similar results. One way that predators hunting African porcupines have learned to capture the rodent is by hammering quick blows to its head until the porcupine dies. The porcupine’s head doesn’t have the quills found on its hindquarters.
The African porcupine is found in greatly varied habitat. About the only place it will avoid is a dense rainforest. It has been seen at altitudes above 11,000 feet above sea level. They seek out grasslands with areas for burrowing. They can dig their own burrows, but will seek shelter in massive burrows dug by other animals like the African Sulcata tortoises, that can be as much as ten feet deep.
The African porcupine can swim, but cannot climb trees. It is nocturnal and monogamous, and cares for its young until they are able to live on their own. Usually the female bears one litter of one to two young every year. Gestation is 60-66 days; they reach adult weight and become sexually mature in two years.
The African porcupine has a tendency to use the same paths when going and coming from its feeding grounds. A hunter can take advantage of this when hunting African porcupines in Africa. They spend the day inactive and sleeping in their burrows. Their feeding and sleeping hours will vary depending on season and temperature. They live on roots, bulbs and crops. African porcupine have been known to consume insects, small rodents and carrion, sometimes travelling long distances in search of food.
Hunting African porcupines is mostly opportunistic. Many are taken at night while spotlighting for other nocturnal animals. If a specific hunt is planned, just about anything that goes bang will do. African porcupine have been taken with air guns, spears, and any small caliber of rifle. They make good trophies, just watch out for the sharp ends.