Track it Thursday: The Porcupine

This week’s track belongs to a porcupine.

The porcupines tracks are not always easy to identify as they are very similar to the tracks of a honey badger. Porcupines have 5 toes with well developed claws on the front and back feet, however on the front feet the first toe is only a small stump and is clawless. Behind the toes there are 3 middle pads and 2 back pads on each foot.

Porcupines are the largest rodents in South Africa and can weigh up to 30 kgs with the females generally being heavier than the males.

They are mostly nocturnal, sleeping during the day and foraging for food at night. The main portion of their diet is tubers which they dig for using their long claws. They will also feed off fallen fruit and are known to gnaw on bark of certain tree species.

Although they are vegetarian, they have been seen feeding off carrion and strangely large piles of bones are often found in their den sites. This is because in areas lacking in phosphorus they are forced to chew on bones for calcium.

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