Porcupines are members of the Rodentia order of mammals. Nearly 40 percent of all mammals are part of this same grouping, which also includes prairie dogs, chipmunks, and mice. Porcupines are a diverse grouping of quilled creatures and can be found in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The Malayan porcupine (Hystrix brachyura) photographed here in its native range at a wildlife facility in Singapore) is a species that inhabits forests and other habitats where it can build a suitable burrow from India and Nepal, east to China, and south through the Malay Peninsula, and even on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They are ground foragers, mainly feeding on roots, tubers, bark, and fallen fruits.
As with many species, the overall trend in their population numbers is decreasing, and much of their habitat throughout this wide region of South and Southeast Asia is fragmented. Protected areas for conservation are critical for preserving suitable habitat. The porcupine is hunted in the wild and even farmed in some places.
The porcupine’s impressive quills give them a distinctive look and cover much of their bodies. Protruding sharply from their back and tail, the rigid quills are a deterrent for many predators looking for a meal. On its tail, the porcupine has hollow quills that it can shake to produce a sound meant to scare off potential threats and predators. Young porcupines have soft hairs that will transform into quills as they mature.
How does the Malayan porcupine use its quills?
Do all rodents (species that are part of the Rodentia order of mammals) live in burrows?
What threats are there to the health and survival of Malayan porcupine populations?
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry burrow Noun
small hole or tunnel used for shelter.
to search for food or other needs.
breaking up of large habitats into smaller, isolated chunks. Fragmentation is one of the main forms of habitat destruction.
animal with hair that gives birth to live offspring. Female mammals produce milk to feed their offspring.
taxonomic rank of related organisms between class (more broadly related) and family (more specifically related).
total number of people or organisms in a particular area.
hollow sharp spine.
large order of mammals characterized by ever-growing upper and lower incisor teeth.