Prehensile Tailed Porcupine

photo M. Noonan

The prehensile-tailed porcupine is quite different from the North American porcupine. The major difference is that it has a unique feature called a prehensile tail. On most of the body, the porcupine has stiff body hairs called quills. The tail however, is naked so that it can curl around strong branches, serving as a fifth limb. This adaptation allows the porcupine to move throughout the canopy to find twigs, fruit, and seeds to eat. They also have strong claws to aid in climbing. The prehensile-tailed porcupine is only of the weight of the bark-eating North American Porcupine. The tropical porcupine strangely does not attempt to defend itself by striking predators with its quills. Instead, it will bite, roll into a ball, or flee.


CAC is a program of the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.