STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
RANGE: South America
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
Prehensile-tailed porcupines have skin varying in hue from yellow-orange rust to brownish-black and are covered with long quills. The yellow-orange hue is due to a pungent waxy substance exuded from the sebaceous glands. The semi-hollow quills are tricolored with white tips and a barbed end. This makes the quills very effective at penetrating the flesh of predators and difficult to remove. Contrary to the popular myth, they cannot shoot these quills. The quills drop very easily from the porcupines’ skin. They will often ball up or charge backward at a predator to imbed their quills into its skin.
The prehensile tails have no spines and are used for stabilization and grasping while climbing and as a means of hanging. In addition to being very muscular, this prehensile tail has a callus pad near the ventral tip to aid in grasping branches and vines.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
These animals are nocturnal and typically sleep during the day in the upper canopy of trees.
After a 200-day gestation period, the female gives birth to a single young known as a porcupette. Young are born with soft hair that hardens to quills with age. Immediately after birth, their eyes open, and they are able to climb.
Prehensile-tailed porcupines live in the South American forests of Venezuela, Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Trinidad, and some extreme northern sections of Argentina. Their ranges vary from 20 to 94 acres.
They are arboreal, which means that they spend most of their time high in the canopies of trees.
They feed on leaves, shoots, fruits, bark, roots, and buds.