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Felix: Male, born March 27, 2004 at Albuquerque Biological Park. He arrived at the Zoo on July 2, 2008.
Diego: Male, born on November 1, 2009. Diego lives off-exhibit in KidZooU as part of our program animal collection. Felix is Diego’s sire (father).
Our pair of prehensile-tailed porcupines share an exhibit with a family of Geoffroy's marmosets. they can usually be found high in the branches.
Rare Animal Conservation Center
Prehensile-tailed porcupines are well adapted for life in the trees and rarely descend to the ground. They have compact bodies covered in short spines mixed with coarse hairs. They can be colorful, with shades of yellow, white and black. The quills can lay flat, or be erected if the porcupine is disturbed. Their head is small and their nose is round and bulbous and covered with short fine hair but no quills. Their most prominent feature – one that they are named for – is their long prehensile tail. They use their tail as a fifth hand that helps them hold on to branches as they climb through the forest canopy. The last third of the tail is spineless on the upper surface which gives the animal a better grip. They hold on to branches by spiraling their tail around in a very typical way.
About 15 years.
Prehensile-tailed porcupines are not well studied in the wild because they stay high in the trees and are slow-moving and largely immobile during the day, which makes them difficult to spot. Nocturnal and solitary, they spend the day sleeping in a hollow tree or curled up in the fork of a branch. At night they move around - foraging for food in the treetops. Although they tend to move slowly, they are surprisingly agile and can climb quickly when necessary. They cannot jump and must descend to the ground if they need to cross a gap between trees. Their quills are short and barbed and provide this slow moving animal with an impressive defense. They cannot throw their quills (no porcupine can) but the quills detach easily when touched and embed themselves in the skin of an enemy. Their defenses are so formidable that porcupines can have the luxury of a long lifespan and slow reproductive rate unlike many other rodents.
There is no breeding season and very little is known about their courtship in the wild. After a gestation of 202 days, the baby porcupine is born. Porcupines typically give birth to a single young that weighs about 14oz and is able to climb from birth. Baby porcupines are hairy and are a reddish-orange color. They are weaned between 30-70 days and reach sexual maturity at around 575 days.
30-40” long including the tail
7.5 – 11 lbs
Prehensile-tailed porcupines are herbivores eating bark, leaves and buds as well as fruit and root vegetables in the wild. They are excellent climbers and spend most of their lives high in trees. At the Zoo the porcupines are offered a base diet of commercial herbivore food that provides the majority of nutrients the animal requires. The balance of nutrients the animal requires is provided through the enrichment portion of the diet. The enrichment portion includes a variety of vegetables, fruit, leafy greens and in the summer leaves and twigs harvested from local trees.
South America: Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil, Bolivia and Trinidad.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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