The Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica) is found throughout southeast and central Asia and in parts of the Middle East, including such countries as India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Israel, Iran and Saudia Arabia.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native )
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkestan
Western Ghats Distribution
INDIA Karnataka: Dharwar Kerala: Ernakulam Cochin; Thiruvananthapuram Tamil NaduPalni Hills; Nilgiris: Nilgiri Hills environs
Known Presence in Protected Areas
India Kerala Silent Valley NP, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary Goa; Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary Tamil Nadu; Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Indira Gandhi WLS, Mudumalai WLS Maharashtra; Chandoli National Park Karnataka; Brahmagiri WS; Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarhole NP, Bandara Wildlife Sanctuary,"
Distribution in Egypt
Localized (Northeastern Sinai).
On average, the Indian porcupine's head and body measure 70-90 centimeters (cm) in length, with the tail adding an additional 8-10 cm (Prater 1965). Its hair is highly modified to form multiple layers of spines. Beneath the longer, thinner spines lies a layer of shorter and thicker ones. Each quill is brown or black in color, with alternating bands of white. Spines vary in length, with the neck and shoulder quills being the longest, measuring 15 to 30 cm (Gurung and Singh 1996). The tail is covered with with shorter spines that appear white in color. Among these, are longer, hollow, rattling quills that are used to alarm potential predators (Ellerman 1961). The feet and hands are broad, with long claws that are used for burrowing.
Range mass: 11 to 18 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
The Indian porcupine is highly adaptable to multiple environments. Although they usually favor rocky hill sides, the species can also be found in tropical and temperate scrublands, grasslands, and forests. They are also found throughout the Himalayan mountains, reaching up to elevations of 2400 meters (Gurung and Singh 1996).
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains
Habitat and Ecology
Tropical and subtropical dry deciduous forests, scrub, grasslands, dry montane forests, semi-deserts, caves, subterrenean habitats, agricultural lands
Subterranean, found in rocky areas and near fields
Quantitative and qualitative decline in habitat at the rate of < 10% during last 10 years and also a similar trend projected for the next 10 years due to habitat alterations, infrastructure development, excessive use of pesticides. In Pakistan, a similar trend is seen due to urbanisation, shrinkage in feeding grounds"
The main food source for the Indian porcupine is vegetable material of all kinds, including fruits, grains, and roots (Prater 1965). They have also been known to chew on bones, in search of minerals (such as calcium) that help their spines grow (Gurung and Singh 1996, Prater 1965). The species utilizes both natural plants and agricultural crops as food sources.
Plant Foods: roots and tubers
Primary Diet: herbivore (Lignivore, Eats sap or other plant foods)
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 27.1 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Gestation for the species, on average, lasts 240 days (Gurung and Singh 1996). Brood size varies, ranging from2 to 4 offspring per year (Prater 1965). Young are born with their eyes open, and the body is covered by short soft quills. The Indian porcupine is usually monogamous, with both parents being found in the burrow with their offspring throughout the year.
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average gestation period: 113 days.
Average number of offspring: 2.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hystrix indica
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Throughout its range, the Indian porcupine is common and does not face a significant threat towards its continued existence (Gurung and Singh 1996). Its adaptability to a wide range of habitats and food types helps insure their healthy populations.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Status in Egypt
Protection Legal Status
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The Indian porcupine uses crop plants extensively as a food resource, thus leading to a significant loss for agriculture. In addition, the species can be extremely destructive to gardens and landscaping, as they burrow through or consume the resources in these areas.
Indian porcupines can cause some medical problems as well, with the possibility that humans or, more significantly, pets may come into contact with their quills.
Throughout its range, the Indian porcupine is hunted as a food source (Gurung and Singh 1996). Also, its role as a herbivore may allow it to help with the spread of seeds and pollen.
Positive Impacts: food
Indian crested porcupine
The Indian crested porcupine (Hystrix indica), or Indian porcupine, is a member of the Old World porcupines. It is quite an adaptable rodent, found throughout southern Asia and the Middle East. It is tolerant of several different habitats: mountains, tropical and subtropical grasslands, scrublands, and forests. It is a large rodent, growing more than 0.9 m (3 ft) long and weighing 14.5 kg (32 lb). It is covered in multiple layers of quills. The longest quills grow from its shoulders to about a third of the animal's length. Its tail is covered in short, hollow quills that can rattle when threatened. It has broad feet and long claws for digging. When attacked, the Indian crested porcupine raises its quills and rattles the hollow quills on its tail. If the predator persists past these threats, the porcupine launches a backwards assault, hoping to stab its attacker with its quills. It does this so effectively that most brushes between predators and the Indian porcupine end in death or severe injury.
Not much is known about the average life span of the Indian crested porcupine. Nevertheless it produces litters of variable size (four at the largest) each year. The Indian crested porcupine is nocturnal and creates underground shelters. It eats a variety of plants including their fruits, grains, and roots. Its diet of plant matter makes it an agricultural pest to farmers in some parts of India. In addition, the Indian porcupine has been observed gnawing on bones to extract the minerals they contain. Many conservationists, most notably Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson, have documented and noted that many tigers and leopards have become man-eaters after having fought and been injured by porcupines, which indicates their ferocity and their lack of predators. One such example was the Leopard of Gummalapur, which when examined, was shown to have two porcupine quills lodged in its right forefoot.
- Amori, G., Hutterer, R., Kryštufek, B., Yigit, N., Mitsain, G. & Muñoz, L. J. P. (2008). Hystrix indica. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- Chakravarthy, A. K.; Girish, A. C.; Shakunthata Sridhara (2006) Pest status of the Indian crested porcupine, Hystrix indica. Authors in Vertebrate pests in agriculture: the Indian scenario (editor Shakunthala Sridhara Book). pages. 287-300 ISBN 81-7233-436-2
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