Indian crested porcupine

(Hystrix indica)


Indian crested porcupine IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

Indian porcupines are large rodents with a head-body length of 70-90 cm and a body weight of 11-18 kg. They have a short tail measuring 8-10 cm.


The hair of porcupines is highly modified to form layers of longer, thinner, and shorter and thicker spines. Each quill is brown or black in colour, with alternating bands of white. Spines vary in length, with the neck and shoulder quills being the longest, measuring 15 to 30 cm. The tail is covered with shorter spines that appear white in color. Among these, are longer, hollow, rattling quills.


When irritated or alarmed, the Indian porcupine raises its quills and rattles the hollow spines on its tail. If the disturbance continues, it launches a backward attack and clashes its rear against the offending animal. This action drives the spines deep into the enemy, often leading to severe injury or death.


Indian porcupines live in pairs or small family groups but usually forage alone. They are nocturnal, seeking shelter in caves, between rocks, or in burrows during the day. Burrows are usually self-constructed, with a long entrance tunnel, multiple exits and a large inner chamber.


How do Indian porcupines mate? Very carefully! After a gestation period of about 118 day the female gives birth to a litter of 2-4 young, which are born with their eyes open, and the body is covered by short soft quills. There may be up to 2 litter per year.


Indian porcupines feed mainly on vegetable material of all kinds, including fruit, grains, tubers and roots, and may chew on bones, to cover their need for Calcium.

Did you know?
That, apart from people who hunt porcupines for their meat, the main predators for this species are large cats, i.e. tiger and leopard? However, porcupines are able to defend themselves and there are recorded fatalities of tigers and leopards caused by porcupines.


Name (Scientific) Hystrix indica
Name (English) Indian crested porcupine
Name (French) Porc-épic indien
Name (German) Indisches Stachelschwein
Name (Spanish) Puercoespín de la India
Local names Bengali: Sajaru
Hindi: Sayal, sahi
Kannada: Yed, mooloo handi
Marathi: Sheval, salendra, saloo
Sinhalese: Iththewa
Tamil: Moollam punni
Telugu: Yedu pandi
Turkish: Hint oklu kirpisi
Urdu: Say, sohjaru
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Fritz geller-Grimm



Range Europe: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey. Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Nepal, Palestine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Habitat Wide range of habitats up to 2400 m above sea level, including rocky hill sides, scrublands, grasslands, and forests.
Wild population Unknown, but widely distributed and considered as pest in some places (IUCN Red List 2011)
Zoo population 272 reported to ISIS (2008). In Europe, the species is kept by many small animal parks which do not report to ISIS.

In the Zoo

Indian crested porcupine


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 80 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The Indian porcupine is not a threatened species. It is primarily kept for educational purposes to show the transformation of the hair into spines as a specific stratgey of avoiding predators, similar e.g. to the spiny coat of the hedgehog or the carapace of tortoises.