African Crested Porcupine

Hystrix cristata

Order: Rodentia

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

  • Avid chewers require proper flooring and cage material. Thick gauge caging and sealed concrete floor recommended. 10′ x 8′ recommend size for a single animal.

Diet Requirements

  • Will eat anything. Any fruits, any vegetables, rodent block, omnivore biscuit or leaf eater biscuit. Root vegetables and fruit are high reinforcers.

Veterinary Concerns

Notes on Enrichment & Training

  • Can be easy to train basic behaviors such as target, station and crate. Natural behavior behaviors such as digging, chewing or smelling for an item. More advanced behaviors such as handling on a leash requires more advanced trainers.
  • Will chew on everything so enrichment needs to be selected with care. Paper products, scents and wood are best. Needs wood to chew on to wear down teeth,


Colony or Breeding Management


Individual Identification


Programmatic Information


Temperature Guidelines



Tips on Presentation

Touching Techniques

Tips on Handling

  • Can be presented on leash.


Potential Messaging

  • Dispelling myths about shooting quills.
  • Many regions of Africa including the Congo and the island of Madagascar are extensively mined for coltan and other minerals that go into cell phones, tablets, and computers. Natural habitat, frequently in areas that are legally protected, is lost for wildlife, trees and topsoil scraped away. In addition, toxins from discarded electronics leach out of local landfills and contaminate waterways here at home. Please ask guests to think twice before replacing their electronic devices and to recycle their old ones when they do.

Acquisition Information


Comments from the Rating System

  • Natural Science Center of Greensboro: With the quill factor, this animal becomes an advanced animal for me and I would not consider it ideal for beginning handlers. I’ve seen several with difficult personalities but for the most part, can be worked easily to move, station, crate, etc. with minimal contact.
  • Downtown Aquarium, Denver: need experienced handlers – especially for older animals. Can be difficult to train but are fast/eager learners.

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat


Physical Description

Crested porcupines are black and white with quills and modified hairs covering the entire body. They get their name from the thick hairs that for a mo-hawk or crest on the top of the head and neck. Males range in size from 10-15kg and females can be up to 23kg.

Life Cycle



Crested porcupines are nocturnal animals, so they sleep for a majority of the day. They spend a lot of time foraging for roots, branches or fruits. They spend the daytime sleeping in burrows that they dig themselves. The burrows can be up to 100 feet long, underground.

Threats and Conservation Status

Their threats are humans for meat, large cats and large birds of prey. Their conservation status is least concern and are considered pests in many parts of their range.

Did you know…

  • Crested porcupines are born with their quills, they are very soft. As soon as they hit the air they harden.




Contributors and Citations

Top Photo: By Drew Avery (African crested Porcupine {Hystrix cristata}) [CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons