North African Crested Porcupine

Hystrix Cristata

Physical Descriptions

The Hystrix cristata's head and body length is around 2-3 feet, and the tail is 3-7 inches long. The porcupine weighs approximately 22 to 66 pounds or 10 to 30 kilograms. The North African Porcupine is mainly dark brown or black in color. A baby porcupine though, starts out all black and white, then changes into black or dark brown..

Levels of Classification

  • Domain Eukarya- In this domain, all cells are either multicellular or unicellular. Each cell has a nucleus.
  • Kingdom Animalia- All animals from the Kingdom Animalia are multicellular, heterotrophs, have no cell walls, and they digest food in an internal cavity.
  • Phylum Chordata- The animal has bilateral symmetry, a segmented body, a tail projecting beyond the anus at some point, a complete digestive system, and a bony or cartilaginous endoskeleton usually present.
  • Subphylum Vertebrata- Vertebrates all have a vertebral column, or a chain of bony elements that run along the back surface from head to tail that form the main skeletal axis from the body. They all have a digestive system with large digestive glands, liver, and pancreas, their movements come from the muscles attached to the endoskeleton, and their ventral heart has 2-4 chambers.
  • Class Mammalia- Animals in this category have hair at some point in their lives, but most have hair their entire lives, the animals are usually characterized by their teeth.
  • Order Rodentia- The teeth of animals in Order Rodentia are highly specialized for gnawing, have a single pair of upper and lower incisors. There is never more than 1 incisor in each quardrent, or any canines. The animals' clavicles are usually present, and their feet have 5 toes.
  • Family Hystricidae- These large, heavy-set, slow moving animals are found in Africa and Asia. These Old World Porcupines rely on their impressive quills for defense instead of on speed or agility. the heads are massive and broad, the ears and the eyes are typically pretty small, the claws are always short, the tail varies in size- some tails may be very short or they can reach around half of the head to body length.
  • Genus Hytrix- The genus Hystrix is only made up of the crested porcupines.

Other Names

This porcupine has 4 different, common names. The North African Crested porcupine, African Crested porcupine, African porcupine, and the Crested porcupine.

Predators and Diet

The predators of the African porcupine include humans, lions, leopards, birds of prey, and hyenas. This porcupine usually eats bark, roots, tubers, rhizomes, bulbs, fallen fruits, crops, insects, carrion, and small vertebrates. The Crested porcupines commonly gnaw on bones to sharpen their incisors.

Habitat

The North African Crested porcupine can be found in Italy, Sicily, northern Zaire, Tanzania, and along the Mediterranean coast. They are mainly found in forests, rocky areas, mountains, croplands, and sandhill deserts. They shelter in caves, rock crevices, aardvark holes, or burrows that they dig up themselves.

Behavioral Adaptations

This porcupine is able to swim, this helps them survive when a predator is chasing after the them and goes into the water and escapes by swimming. The African Crested porcupine is highly adaptable to different habitats, from sandhill deserts to forests, this helps them be able to live in different conditions. The Hystrix cristata is strictly nocturnal. This helps them to see in the dark whatever the case is. The Crested Porcupine uses the same path to enter and exit their dens. This leads to paths to their favorite feeding ground. This means that they will be able to get to their food quicker and easier. Small family groups, share an elaborate burrow system. This helps the baby's survive because the parents will be protecting them because of the burrow system. When the Crested porcupines are feeling threatened or acting aggressively, they will growl, cough, snort, and make whining noises. This helps to protect itself from any predators who are approaching.

Physical Adaptations

When the crested porcupines are disturbed, they raise and fan their quills to make them look bigger in size. If the disturbance continues, the porcupine will stamp their feet, whir their quills, and charge after the enemy with their back, attempting to stab the predator. These porcupines have sharp, chisel-like front teeth. This help them make a quick work of available foods. The Hystrix cristata has a great sense of smell. They can survive better with this adaptation when they are trying to find food. The long, white hairs on the back of the porcupine help it to defend itself. They act like the "eyes" because it can feel the predator. Their digestive system allows all of their food fibers to be stored in the enlarged appendix, and the large intestine, where they are broken down further. This helps them to have more fibers stored inside of their bodies. The toes of the porcupine are all equipped with powerful claws. The African porcupine's are able to climb to escape from any predators.
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References

African Crested Porcupine. (n.d.). Retrieved from Woburn Safari Park website: http://www.woburnsafari.co.uk/discover/meet-the-animals/mammals/african-crested-porcupine/


African Crested Porcupine. (n.d.). Retrieved from Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo website: http://www.rfadventures.com/african_crested_porcupine.htm


Burton, M. (2002). Crested porupine. In International wildlife encyclopedia (3rd ed., Vol. 5, pp. 595-597). New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.


Discover life: Point map of Hystrix cristata [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://eol.org/pages/326521/maps


McPhee, M. 2003. “Hystrix cristata” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 11, 2015 at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Hystrix_cristata/


Porcupine. (n.d.). Retrieved from San Diego Zoo website: http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/porcupine


Porcupine. (n.d.). Retrieved from African Wildlife Foundation website: http://www.awf.org/wildlife-conservation/porcupine