Just when the staff at Linton Zoo thought that they were done with baby animal births for the year, they were delighted to discover this tiny bundle on the 10th of December, sporting more prickles than a Christmas tree! The baby African Crested Porcupine was born to first-time mom Halla and dad Henry, who are proving to be the perfect parents, regularly feeding and grooming the little porcupette and keeping it nice and warm under the heat lamp. The gestation period is approximately 112 days and a baby is born looking just like a miniature adult.
And now the public has been invited to suggest names on Linton Zoo's Facebook page. Since the baby's gender is not yet known, they ask for names that are suitable for either a male or female. The person who suggests the chosen name will receive an annual sponsorship of the porcupette. A sponsorship pack can be mailed anywhere in the world.
African Crested Porcupines come from Sub-saharan Africa and live in rocky outcrops and hills. They are nocturnal and spend most of the day sleeping, waking occasionally to eat. Their quills, which are simply modified hairs, detach easily, giving rise to the myth that they ‘fire’ the quills... but that is untrue. If a predator approaches, the Porcupine will rattle the hollow quills in its tail, followed by a series of growls, grunts and foot-stomping. Only if this fails to deter the attacker will it charge backwards to impale the threat with their spikes.
Naturally the new arrival is proving to be bit of a distraction. Due to infrared lamps, it’s easy for staff to see into the nest box without the porcupines knowing they are there. They find it fascinating to watch the interaction between the parents and their new baby. Both Mom and Dad are very attentative, especially Henry, who’s often left to babysit while Halla goes forraging for food.
Watch this video to see for yourself; it shows how really tiny the porcupette is!