Porcupine

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Porcupines are rodents with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend them from predators. They are indigenous to the Americas, southern Asia, and Africa. Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver. Most porcupines are about 25–36 in (63–91 cm) long, with an 8–10 in (20–25 cm) long tail. Weighing between 12–35 lb (5.4–16 kg), they are rounded, large and slow. Porcupines come in various shades of brown, grey, and the unusual white. Porcupines' spiny protection resembles that of the unrelated erinaceomorph hedgehogs and monotreme echidnas.

The common porcupine is a herbivore. It eats leaves, herbs, twigs and green plants like skunk cabbage and clover and in the winter it may eat bark. It often climbs trees to find food. It is mostly nocturnal, but will sometimes forage for food in the day. Porcupines have become a pest in Kenya and are eaten as a delicacy.[1]

The name porcupine comes from Middle French porc espin (spined pig).[2] A regional American name for the animal is quill pig.[3]

Contents

Species

A porcupine is any of 29 species of rodent belonging to the families Erethizontidae (genera: Coendou, Sphiggurus, Erethizon, Echinoprocta, and Chaetomys) or Hystricidae (genera: Atherurus, Hystrix, and Trichys). Porcupines vary in size considerably: Rothschild's Porcupine of South America weighs less than a kilogram (2.2 lb (1.00 kg)); the Crested porcupine found in Italy, Sicily, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa can grow to well over 10 kg (22 lb). The two families of porcupines are quite different, and, although both belong to the Hystricognathi branch of the vast order Rodentia, they are not closely related.

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