Many call him porcupine, he answers the same. IS' the porcupine, animal not to be confused with the hedgehog even if the two have several aspects in common. In this article we will explore the differences in depth to learn how to distinguish them with the naked eye in a few minutes, in case we find one around or directly in our garden, which happens to me frequently, living in a green area.
The scientific name of this rodent is Hystrix cristata, it belongs to the hedgehog family and is quite common in our peninsula although we can also find it in other extra-border areas. There are a total of 12 species of porcupines in the world, all concentrated in a few areas and all different from the animal we call hedgehog.
Both rodents have quills and it is easy to think that they are brothers, yet even in the quills of one and the other there are differences that we are about to discover.
When we spot an animal that may seem like a hedgehog, or a porcupine, even from a distance we can begin to make hypotheses, observing them The dimensions. If we see that the animal has a length ranging from 60 to 80 cm, with a tail that it can measure up to 17 cm, then it could be a porcupine. This rodent can weigh about 30 kg, much more than a common hedgehog which has much smaller dimensions, not comparable to those just mentioned.
One of the reasons these two rodents get confused is the fact that they both have the peculiarity of having quills. Few people know that they are different in number and type. Let's start immediately with the affirmation that the porcupine today represents the rodent with the highest number of quills in the world. It goes without saying that it has many more of them than the hedgehog, another reason not to confuse these two rodents. But that's not all.
Always looking at the quills we can see that those of porcupines have a peculiar characteristic that makes them unique and recognizable: they are quills resulting from keratin-coated hairs, therefore more rigid than normal. The quills of the curls are completely different, moreover they always appear distributed on the body in a more uniform way and much denser.
It is also impossible to detach the quills of the hedgehog while those of the porcupine can "fall" as soon as you touch them even if in fact we should not imagine that this animal is able to "shoot" them like bullets, as a defense weapon against predators.
Taking note of all these differences, you will agree with me that the hedgehog is much more beautiful than the porcupine from a purely aesthetic point of view. The latter shows spines scattered and irregularly mixed with strands of normal hair. The result is not particularly attractive.
The porcupine, larger than the hedgehog, strictly follows one vegetarian diet eating mainly fruit and branches. Only occasionally does it feed on the bones of animals, which are essential for having valuable calcium reserves. Hedgehogs have very different habits and do not follow any particular diet, they love to eat anything but they prefer menus based on earthworms, cockroaches, ants and insects of various kinds. They are in fact very carnivorous.
Each time a female porcupine gives birth, she gives birth to one to four pups of about one kilogram each, after a gestation of 112 days. The little porcupines already have their eyes open and soft spiny hairs, they are weaned after 16 weeks of life, the mother is nursing them while the male assists by cleaning the young resting in the burrows.
Protected animal because still today threatened by poaching because of its delicious meat, porcupines live in Italy, throughout the peninsula, in Sicily and on the Island of Elba. It has recently reached northern regions where it was previously rare to see it, such as western Liguria, the south-eastern part of Lombardy and the southern areas of Veneto. It is not an animal recently landed in Italy, it has lived there since the late Pleistocene and some fossil finds dating back to this period testify to it.
In addition to Italy, we also find this rodent in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb. It mainly resides in forests and savannas, occasionally it inhabits deserts or cultivated areas. Unlike the hedgehog, the porcupine can also live on trees and in some areas of America. It cannot hunt or kill, which is why it is not to be considered a dangerous animal for humans. Obviously, however, it must be left alone otherwise its quills can hurt us but we went to look for it.
Also due to this defensive behavior, the porcupine does not have many enemies that come to attack it, everyone agrees that it is better to stay away from it. Man constitutes a danger to this animal when it hunts it and then eats its flesh, another danger is represented by two particular species of tze-tze flies that transmit sleeping sickness to humans and which feed on the blood of this species
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