Reproductive biology

An elaborate nighttime dance and courtship involves the male showering the female with urine. If the female is receptive, the male stands motionless in front of the female, then approaches and retreats numerous times while making sounds to her. (If female is not receptive, she will be aggressive toward the courting male.) When ready, the female will raise her rear and tail high with her chest on ground. Male will mount female by clasping her sides with his front paws and balancing on his hind feet. No male weight is transferred to the female. (Males have no external scrotum and the penis normally points backward.) Both males and females loudly whine, grunt, and squeal while mating.

The gestation period is usually 93-110 days, depending on species; breeding occurs usually once a year (sometimes twice), during March to December; usually one to two young, but up to four in a litter is possible. Young are precocial and have fur and the ability to locomote at birth. They weigh about 12 oz (340 g) at birth and nurse for about three to four months, able to feed almost immediately. Eyes are open when born or open within first few hours. Females have two to three pairs of mammae that are located on sides of chest cage, just behind shoulders. After a week or so, soft, short hair-like quills will harden and young may leave nest with mother. Sexual maturity is reached at nine to 18 months. The life span in captivity is at least 10 years, and in the wild, average life span is about 20 years.

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