The crested porcupine is strictly protected under international and domestic legislation in Europe and is found in several protected areas throughout its range.
In addition to humans, enemies of the crested porcupine include lions, leopards, large birds of prey, and hyaenas.
In Morocco, the crested porcupine is widely used for traditional medicine and witchcraft and is sold very commonly in local markets.
Crested porcupines have five high crowned teeth in each jaw with plane chewing surfaces for grinding plant cells that are then digested in the stomach.
Although crested porcupines are terrestrial and rarely climb trees, they are able to swim.
Young crested porcupines are born with open eyes, incisors, and soft spines that harden a week later.
Individual crested porcupines may remain in burrows through winter but they don’t truly hibernate.
Crested porcupines are known to collect thousands of animal bones at night and store them in underground chambers or caves.
The crested porcupine has characteristic skull morphology with an enlarged nasal cavity, fused shin and calf bones, and reduced collar bone.
Female crested porcupines usually only have one litter per year, giving birth to 1-2 offspring in a grass-lined chamber in the burrow system.
The crested porcupine is considered an agricultural pest and is illegally controlled with poison baits because of the damage it may cause to crops and fields.
The crested porcupine is a solitary forager, known to travel significant distances in search of food.
Due to their spiny anatomy, the female crested porcupine raises her tail while the male stands on his hind legs without transferring weight to the female in order to mate.
Crested porcupine quills are often used as ornaments and talismans.
The crested porcupine is distinct among Old World porcupines due to its shorter tail and the presence of rattle quills at the end of the tail that broaden at the terminal and hiss with vibrations.
Crested porcupines are monogamous and live in small family groups sharing an elaborate burrow system and focusing on intensive care of the young.
The crested porcupine’s global population trend is unknown, but it is stable and increasing in mainland Italy.
When threatened, crested porcupines will raise and fan their quills to create the illusion of greater size and charge enemies back-first in order to stab them with their thick, short quills.
Crested porcupines have a plantigrade gait with well-developed claws, bare soles, pawpads, and regressed thumbs.
The average head and body length of the crested porcupine is 60-93 centimeters (24-37 inches), with a tail length of 8-17 centimeters (3-7 inches).
Because it is widespread, the crested porcupine is globally evaluated as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species but is considered “Endangered” in Morocco.
Much of our knowledge of crested porcupine breeding behavior comes from captive individuals and they are known to mate only at night, both in and out of the burrow.
The crested porcupine is also known as the African crested porcupine and its scientific name, Hystrix cristata, refers to its crest of quills.
The crested porcupine is highly adaptable and inhabits forest, savanna, shrubland, grassland, rocky, and artificial terrestrial habitats.
The crested porcupine is a strictly nocturnal animal with very small eyes and external ears and only a slight moonlight avoidance.
The crested porcupine is primarily a herbivorous forager, but will occasionally consume insects, small vertebrates, and carrion.
Because the meat of the crested porcupine is considered a delicacy and a favored food item for humans, it is illegally hunted, often with dogs, in most parts of its range.
The crested porcupine is terrestrial and lives and breeds in deep, extensive burrows, dens, caves, rock crevices, and aardvark holes.
The crested porcupine’s commons name refers to the quills along the head, nape, and back that can be raised into a crest, in addition to sturdier, banded quills along the sides and back half of the body.
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The crested porcupine inhabits Italy, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa from sea level up to 2,550 m.