African brush-tailed porcupine

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African brush-tailed porcupine
Atherurus africanus - Royal Museum for Central Africa - DSC06768.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Hystricidae
Genus: Atherurus
Species: A. africanus
Binomial name
Atherurus africanus
Gray, 1842
African brush-tailed porcupine sold for meat in Cameroon

The African brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus) is a species of rat-like Old World porcupine, indigenous to a broad belt of Africa ranging from Guinea on the west coast to Kenya on the east.

Description[edit]

The brush-tailed porcupine reaches 40 to 50 centimeters in length, not counting the tail. The adult weighs about 3 kilograms. It has an elongated rat-like face and body and short legs, tipped with clawed and webbed feet. Unlike most other porcupines, the brush-tailed porcupine has lighter and smaller quills. On the tail, these quills are thinner and brush-like. These can make noise when rattled.[2]

Ecology[edit]

Brush-tailed porcupines live in small family groups of about eight members. Different family groups can share resources. When attacked by a predator, the porcupine raises its quills so it looks twice its size, rattles its tail quills, and stomps its feet. As with all porcupines, the brush-tailed porcupine backs into the attacker and inflicts damage with its quills.

Brush-tailed porcupines live in forests, usually at high elevations, and are nocturnal, sleeping in caves and burrows during the day. They are herbivorous. Male and female form a pair bond during breeding season. The female has a long pregnancy compared to other rodents: 110 days at the longest. The young are born well-developed or precocial. They are mature at about 2 years of age. The meat of the brush-tailed porcupine is popular and is consumed in large quantities.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hoffmann, M. & Cox, N. (2008). "Atherurus africanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Jori, F.; Lopez-Béjar, M.; Houben, P. (1998). "The biology and use of the African brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus, Gray, 1842) as a food animal. A review.". Biodiversity and Conservation 7 (11): 1417–26. doi:10.1023/A:1008853113835.