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Porcupine Emerges from Burrow

Porcupine emerges from burrow, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana Caption: Porcupine emerges from its burrow in dry river bed at dusk, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana. © Scotch Macaskill
Camera: Canon EOS 450D; Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Zoom; Focal length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/60; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO 400.

The porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) is actually a rodent. It weighs around 12 kg (26 lb), making it the largest rodent in southern Africa.

The characteristic black and white spines and quills covering the rear two-thirds of the porcupine's body make it appear a lot bigger than its body weight suggests, particularly when these are raised in defensive display.

The spines are the long ones (about 50 cm or 20"), while the quills are shorter (about 30 cm or 12") but thicker and more rigid.

The porcupine’s immediate response when threatened is to try to escape. However, when cornered, it will put up an agressive defence, trying to scare off an attacker by stamping its feet, rattling its quills and grunting.

Porcupines cannot shoot their quills. Instead, they charge backwards or sideways at their attacker and in this way can jab the sharp quills into the attacker. For more see: Porcupines Must Mate with Care.

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