Brazilian Porcupines look a little bit different than the porcupines that you typically see at zoos. This species is arboreal, meaning they spend the majority of their time in the trees. To help with this tree lifestyle, they have a couple different adaptations. The one obvious one is their enormous prehensile tail. The last couple inches don’t have quills on them, allowing this species to hold onto branches and hang from their tails if needed, like an extra hand. They also don’t have thumbs, but they do have an extra nub of bone right where you’d expect it to be that helps out with grasping objects. These are also nocturnal animals. They cannot rely on their eyesight at night, so instead they have that super-inflated nose, a really nice set of whiskers, and porcupines in general have excellent senses of hearing.
Being part of the rodent family means they do have orange teeth. That’s not because they don’t brush them, it’s because they have iron in their enamel that changes their teeth color from white to yellow to orange over time. Porcupines in general are the third largest rodent in the world, but that goes to the male African Crested which get up to 60-70 pounds. This species is not that heavy because they live in the trees.
Important to note that no porcupine can shoot their quills. The Brazilian Porcupines will stomp their feet and shake their quills in the presence of a predator. They can also roll up into a ball and raise up all of their quills if they feel threatened. Also, the quills on the Brazilian Porcupines have noticeably reduced barbs, so if you were get pricked, they remove fairly easily. Whereas the other major species have strong barbs that take about 10 pounds of pressure to remove.
We got all of our porcupines here from an exotic importer. They come over with hundreds of animals at a time, and when they get left with one or two species they can’t sell them to zoos as easily so they start looking for private buyers and sellers. Pickles, our oldest, sat in his inventory for a couple years so he just wanted to find her a home and we ended up with her here. Bonnie was originally going to be sold to a European zoo as part of a breeding pair in early 2020. COVID obviously happened and he sat with them for 6-7 months before deciding to just find them a home as well.
Pictured Above: Pickles, Bonnie