The Indian Crested Porcupine (Hystrix indica) is a large rodent mammal in the Hystrididae family.
The Indian Crested Porcupine is a stocky animal. It is black and covered with multiple layers of hair, called quills. The quills, made of keratin, are brown or black with black and white bands. Each quill has a muscle at its base, which enables it to rise and fall. The quills are not firmly attached, so they can easily come out. When these quills are vibrated, they produce a hiss-like rattle.
The Indian Crested Porcupine has broad feet with long claws that enable it to burrow into the ground. It has four toes on it front feet and five toes on its back feet. Its eyes and ears are small, and its nostrils are large. It has sharp teeth.
It grows to 70-90 centimetres (28-35 inches) in length, without the tail. The tail measures 8-10 centimetres (3-4 inches). The quills can grow up to 51 centimetres (20 inches) in length.
The Indian Crested Porcupine is native to southern Asia and the Middle East, in countries such as Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Yemen.
It can live in a variety of habitats, such as rocky hillsides, tropical grasslands, shrublands, forests, plantations, and gardens.
It is nocturnal, feeding at night. It is mainly herbivorous, feeding on plant material and fruit. It also eats insects and worms. Its predators include large cats, wolves, hyenas, wild dogs, and crocodiles.
During the day, it remains in its burrow, den, or cave. It is semi-fossorial, because it lives in its den for most of the time, as well as foraging along the ground at other times.
It cannot climb or jump well, but it is a good swimmer.
The male and female usually form a monogamous pair. The female Indian Crested Porcupine is pregnant for about 240 days, before giving birth to 1-4 live young. The young are born with their eyes open and covered in short quills that harden a few hours after birth. The mother stops feeding them after 13-19 weeks. The young are fully independent after two years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM