We recently adopted Quilliam, an African Crested Porcupine (Hystrix cristata), and he is well on his way to becoming an amazing ambassador for wildlife! In the photo above, Quilliam attends his first large event with Chris, our director & founder.
The African Crested Porcupine is the largest species of porcupine in the world, as well as one of the largest rodents. In the wild, it lives in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Italy. Its long, sharp & sturdy quills are a fascinating adaptation which the porcupine uses to protect itself from predators. Unlike the American Porcupine, the African Crested Porcupine does not have barbs on the end of its quills but they are sharp and can easily be used for protection. The quills are thick and range from 1-13 inches long. They are made from keratin and are actually modified hollow hairs. Many people ask if the porcupine can "shoot" its quills at predators - it cannot. Once the tip of the quill is lodged into a predator, the porcupine can release it and move on.
When confronted, this creature will raise the quills on its head & back into a crest. This makes the porcupine appear larger and more threatening to predators. If this strategy does not work, the porcupine can rattle it's quills (also known as "quivering"). If all else fails, the porcupine will run backwards or sideways and ram the predator with its quills. Wounds caused by the quills can disable or even kill the predator.
In the wild, this porcupine eats tubers, roots, fruit that falls to the forest floor, agricultural crops (vegetables) and bark. For protein, it will occasionally eat carrion (remains of animals killed & consumed by other predators).
We replicate Quilliam's natural diet by providing him with fresh vegetables and fruit, along with a small amount of protein from various sources.
Above, Quilliam made his television debut this month on WTNH8 CT Style.
As Chris and our staff work with Quilliam, he will be joining us in our outreach programming in schools, libraries, senior centers, community events and more. He will help us to educate people of all ages about wildlife, the natural world and the importance of being kind and caring towards all living things.
If you are interested in bringing Quilliam & our many incredible Animal Ambassadors to your school, library or community organization, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Animal Embassy offers science-based enrichment programming, community-building/anti-bullying programs and a variety of other program formats.