Significance to humans

Porcupines are hunted for meat (considered a delicacy in some societies) and to acquire quills as ornaments and talismans. The animals carry fleas and ticks and transmit a number of diseases, including rickettsiasis and bubonic plague. Because of their habit of gnawing bark off trees and eating agricultural crops, they are often regarded as pests.

A South African porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) watching for predators. (Photo by George Dodge. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

1. Long-tailed porcupine (Trichys fasciculata); 2. Asiatic brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus macrourus); 3. African brush-tailed porcupine (Atheru-rus africanus); 4. South African porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis); 5. North African porcupine (Hystrix cristata). (Illustration by Barbara Duper-ron)

1. Thick-spined porcupine (Hystrix crassispinis); 2. Sumatran porcupine (Hystrix sumatrae); 3. Common porcupine (Hystrix brachyura); 4. Indian crested porcupine (Hystrix indica); 5. Indonesian porcupine (Hystrix pumila). (Illustration by Barbara Duperron)

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