New arrivals spike interest at Newquay Zoo

This week, Newquay Zoo in Cornwall became home to pair of male Cape porcupines – the largest species of porcupine in the world. The pair are young brothers. One is seven-months-old and the other is 13-months-old.

There are a whopping 30 different species of porcupine around the world, yet Cape porcupines (Hystrix africaeaustralis) are the largest of all, measuring between 63 and 81cm in length, and weighing up to 30kg.

Aside from their size, the most striking thing about Cape porcupines is their amazing array of spines. Their bodies are covered in long spines measuring around 50cm, interspersed with sharply pointed defence quills. Porcupines are not usually dangerous, but if threatened or provoked, they will charge and attack using these defence quills.

Cape porcupines are found in central and southern Africa. They are sometimes considered as pests by local farmers, as they mostly eat fruits, roots, tubers and bulbs. However, they also eat tree bark, which is thought to help maintain the existence of savannah ecosystems.

John Meek, Curator of Plants and Animals at Newquay Zoo, said:

“Cape porcupines are real characters, and our two new males are no exception. They make a great addition to Newquay, and we think that all of our visitors will agree too.”

The two porcupines are now on show for visitors to see. They will spend the next month quarantining in an indoor enclosure next to Newquay’s West-African crowned cranes, before moving to their permanent home at the top of the zoo, next to the meerkats.

Click here to learn more about Cape porcupines.