This porcupine is only found in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the costal desert of southwest - basically the southern half of Africa.
African crested porcupines are found from sea level to 6,500 ft. above sea level in most areas with vegetation. They prefer rocky hills and outcrops, as they must have shelter during the day. They often take shelter in caves or Aardvarks' holes. They also build dens which can be up to 65 ft-long with a 6 ft-deep living chamber.
Old World porcupines are large, heavyset, slow-moving animals that rely on their imposing quills for defense rather than on speed or agility. Both forelimbs and hindlimbs are short and heavily built. The forefeet have 5 digits, but the thumb is reduced in size. The hindfeet have five functional digits. The claws are short.
The African Crested Porcupine is the largest porcupine in their region. 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. These quills broaden at the terminal end and this section is hollow and thin walled. The vibration of these quills produces a hiss like rattle.
Diet in the Wild: African crested porcupines are mostly vegetarian, using their strong digging claws to find roots, tubers and bulbs. They are also fond of fallen fruits and will sometimes gnaw on bark. They have also been reported to eat carrion in some instances. In areas deficient in phosphorous they gnaw on bones. These porcupines will often accumulate large piles of bones in their dens. They can travel significant distances in search of food.
These porcupines are long-lived for rodents, surviving 12 - 15 years in the wild.
African crested porcupines are described as either solitary creatures or living in small family groups.
Eyes and external ears are generally small, with a poor sense of sight but a sharp sense of hearing. Nostrils are usually S-shaped, with a sharp sense of smell. The upper lip is cleft, and the tip of the nose is stubbed and covered with velvety hairs.
The quills of crested porcupines serve as an effective defense against predation. When disturbed, they raise and fan quills to create an illusion of greater size. If the disturbance continues, they stamp their feet, whirr quills and charge the enemy, back end first, attempting to stab with the thicker, shorter quills Such attacks have been known to kill lions, leopard, hyenas and humans. Another defensive behavior is to hide in their holes facing in and erect spines so that they cannot be dislodged.
Old World porcupines do not climb or jump very well, but they are excellent swimmers.
A widespread species, relatively common where it occurs and well represented throughout its range in protected areas. Some limited off take as a source of protein in some parts of the range, but the population overall is stable and the species is safely considered Least Concern. A general opinion exists that porcupines are common and that the core population is stable. Yet no scientific analysis exists to support this and no studies have been conducted to determine the impact of unregulated hunting on the porcupine population. "Porcupines are being hunted wholesale for the fashion market and nobody has any idea how many are being killed," said Christina Pretorius of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).