Utica Zoo is excited to announce the birth of two African Crested Porcupines. The delightful pair of “porcupettes” were discovered on May 1 with their parents, Kutarna and Darius. At their neonatal vet exam, they were determined to be a male and a female.
Mom Kutarna is 7-years-old and has been at the Zoo since 2010. Dad Darius is 6-years-old and has been at Utica for about the same time. Although the two have lived and bred with each other for about 4 years, they have never produced young until now.
The species has a gestation period of 93 to 94 days, after which one to three young are born, just 300 to 350 grams and about 6 inches long.
“When I came in that morning and discovered two new adorable faces snuggled in with their parents I was so excited” said Kristy Bussard, one of the Porcupines’ zookeepers.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) encouraged the breeding of Kutarna and Darius. The SSP works to promote genetically diverse populations of African Crested Porcupines. These are the first offspring for this pair, although Darius sired another porcupette with a different female 5-years-ago. That animal, known as Joey, is one of the Zoo’s ambassador animals in the Education Department.
Porcupettes are born with soft quills that slowly become stiffer, more sharp, and longer with time. Once Porcupines have their armor and size, they have very few natural enemies.
“They are born so vulnerable, so we wanted to hold off on their public debut until we were more certain they had their natural defenses in place”, added Pearl Yusuf, Director of Animal Operations. “Because of their size and no protective quills, they could easily fall prey to native raptors like hawks that fly over the exhibit.”