IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)


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African brush-tailed porcupine

African brush-tailed porcupine sold for meat in Cameroon

The African brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus) is a species of rat-like Old World porcupines called "brush-tailed porcupines", indigenous to a broad belt of Africa ranging from Guinea on the west coast to Kenya on the east.

Brush-tailed porcupines live in forests, usually at high elevations, and are nocturnal, sleeping in caves and burrows during the day. They are among the biggest rodents in Africa, with a body length of 36–60 cm (14–24 in), discounting a tail of about 10–26 cm (4–10 in) and weigh as much as 2.9 kg (6.4 lb).[citation needed] It has an elongated rat-like face and body and short legs, tipped with clawed and webbed feet. Unlike most other porcupines, the brush-tailed porcupine has lighter and smaller quills. On the tail, these quills are thinner and brush-like. These can make noise when rattled. Brush-tailed porcupines live in small family groups of about eight members. Different family groups can share resources. When attacked by a predator, the porcupine raises its quills so it looks twice its size, rattles its tail quills, and stomps its feet. As with all porcupines, the brush-tailed porcupine backs into the attacker and inflicts damage with its quills.

The brush-tailed porcupine is mostly herbivorous. When alone eating, the porcupines can be quite nervous. During the breeding season, males and females form pair bonds to get acquainted. The African brush-tailed porcupine has a long pregnancy compared to other rodents: 110 days at the longest. The young are born well-developed or precocial. Porcupines reach maturity at two years of age.

The meat of the African brush-tailed porcupines is popular and is consumed in large quantities.


  1. ^ Hoffmann, M. & Cox, N. (2008). Atherurus africanis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  • Jori, F., et al. The biology and use of the African brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus, Gray, 1842) as a food animal. A review. Biodiversity and Conservation Volume 7, Number 11: 1417 - 1426 (November 1998) [1]


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