What is BushCam Adventures?

BushCam Adventures attempts to share some of the amazing images, stories and insights that I've collected during my camera-trapping adventures.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Our Largest Rodent

The local Porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) is the largest rodent in Africa, weighing, apparently, up to 24kg. Even though it is a shy creature I'm not sure I'd be happy stumbling over a 24kg specimen on a dark night!

They live mostly on roots and bulbs and can do extensive damage to vegetable gardens and cultivated crops. Reportedly they are not averse to nibbling occasionally on animal carcasses and tend also to get caught in traps baited for carvivores. What is not in doubt is that they have an interesting habit of gnawing on bones. In my experience an old bone placed in front of the camera will almost always stop these guys, for a while at least.

You'd think that those spikes would make them pretty immune from attack. However there must be something very tasty about their flesh because large carnivores find them worth attacking - often with ugly consequences for both animals. They can't throw their quills but can reverse pretty quickly as a defense mechanism. I've recorded plenty of images like this:

This is not a particularly relaxed porcupine and looks like it's expecting an imminent attack by my trailcam. However they do relax after a while and continue on their snuffling way, seemingly oblivious to the camera.

Even though porcupines are regular 'catches' on my cameras I've, sadly, only ever seen a few in the flesh. Happily however they drop their quills everywhere as a reminder that they are indeed pretty common. I wish I did actually see them more often because they are very cool, and great survivors in both urban and wild environments.


  1. Nice post. I haven't seen many in real live either.

    One of the most rememberable encounters I had was at Addo National Park. A porcupine would enter the camp, somehow, every night and sniff around the tents for something interesting to eat. It was tame enough to wander around the tents while people took photographs of it. It wasn't bothered at all.

    Other animals also sneaked in. One night I zipped open the tent to see who is doing all the sniffing and saw a Jackal right next our tent. Now, if only there were some Jackal around here to camera trap, mmm... :)

  2. Thanks Henry. Must have been great to see the porcupine in Addo.
    It's wonderful camping around wildlife although I have to admit that having hyaena skulking around gives me the creeps. Having a camera trap there however might make it worthwhile!