What is the difference between an African Crested Porcupine and a North American Porcupine?
Well, they are exactly the same, aside from color, body size, quill size, and quill shape. Other than those differences they are exactly the same. The most important similarity between these types of porcupines is that they use quills for defense in situations where they feel threatened.
African Porcupines are larger than their North American cousins. Additionally, their quills are much longer. Another key difference between the quills of the African and North American Porcupines in the fact that the quills of the North American variety have barbed ends on them. This is so that when a predator attacks, the defensive quills will stick in the attacker. These quills do not usually become deeply lodged, but are painful. They are flexible and difficult to remove.
African quills have very sharp points. Also, the point is very hard, allowing for these rigid quills to become deeply lodged into an attacker. They are strong and lightweight and resemble the shaft of a birdís feather. [Pens made from birdsí feathers in the past were called quills.]
Neither type of porcupine has the ability to shoot their quills. This is a myth perpetuated by cartoons. The fact is that the quills become lodged into objects, animals or people who come into contact with a porcupine. Once the quill is stuck, it falls of the animal. The recipient of the quill is then left to figure out how to remove it. Most creatures that have had a run-in with a porcupine learn their lesson and maintain a safe distance in future encounters.
North American Porcupines are usually brownish or slightly gray in color. Their quills are shorter, usually 2 to 4 inches long. That makes it seem like they have a spiked hairdo with gel. The African Crested porcupine has a black body and black hair. Its quills are longer (8 to 16 inches in length) and cover the lower half of the porcupineís body. When the animal is relaxed the way its quill lay flat resembles a grass skirt, but instead of being green it is black with white stripes.
If the title of this article were to be taken literally and we were to pit one porcupine against the other, I would have to give the edge to the African porcupine. It has all the advantages one needs in a fight; itís bigger, badder, and blacker than the North American.
by Cameron Hatch
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