What Do Porcupines Eat in the Wild & as Pets?

In spring and summer, porcupines eat grasses, berries, leaves, roots, stems, and seeds. In the winter and fall, they feed mainly on evergreen needles, the bark of trees, fruits, vegetables, and greens with their favorite food item being corn on the cob.

What Do Porcupines Eat?

These rodents are primarily herbivores and mostly feed on things like roots, leaves, fruits, bulbs, and roots.

Their diets differ based on season, species, and even region but they usually like eating tree barks, bamboo shoots, beans, sweet potatoes, twigs, carrots, corns, and skunk cabbage.

I have seen take on easy meals by feeding on some dead animals, as well as insects as some other food source becomes scarce.

  • In the Summer

Porcupines eat grasses, berries, leaves, roots, stems, and seeds

  • In the Wild

The diet of porcupines in the wild mainly consists of fruits, veggies, tree barks, and insects

  • In Fall

They feed mainly on evergreen needles, the bark of trees, fruits, vegetables, and greens with their favorite food item being corn on the cob.

  • In Spring

Porcupines eat grasses, berries, leaves, roots, stems, and seeds.

  • In Winter

They feed mainly on evergreen needles, the bark of trees, fruits, vegetables, and greens with their favorite food item being corn on the cob.

A Complete List of Foods Porcupines Eat

Here is a complete list of foods they commonly eat:

  • Berries
  • cocoanuts
  • insects
  • carrion
  • animal bones
  • leaves
  • grasses
  • twigs
  • roots
  • stems
  • tree bark
  • various fruits found on the ground
  • taros
  • bamboo shoots
  • sugarcane
  • beans
  • peanuts
  • evergreen needles
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • sweet potatoes
  • buds
  • carrots

Porcupines Diet by Types

Porcupines are divided into two types, based on their diet:

  • The Old-World porcupines are classified under the family Hystricidae and the
  • New-World porcupines are classified under the family Erethizontidae.

The Old-World porcupines make up most of Asia, Africa, and southern Europe whole

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The New World porcupines are native to North and Southern America.

These two porcupine types are different in features. For instance, the old-world porcupines are heavily built with rounded heads, they also feature cylindrical or flattened spines lining their bodies.

On the other hand, new-world porcupines are large rodents with rounded heads and blunt noses whose spines that cover their bodies are mixed with long soft hairs.

The following sections will explore the different porcupine species classified under the two distinct categories.

ALSO SEE: Can Porcupines be Pets?

What Do African Brush-tailed Porcupines Eat?

Native to the African continent, the African brush-tailed diet is mainly herbs; fruits, leaves, bulbs, nodules, and tree barks.

African brush tailed porcupine

They are mostly found in southern Zaire, the Gambia, and Western Kenya regions.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Hystricidae
  • Genus: Atherurus
  • Species: Atherurus africanus

This species belongs to the class of the Old-World porcupines and is mostly found in hidden caves, crevices, or next to fallen trees.

Their preference is the natural-occurring caves since that saves them the trouble of creating new burrows.

They are the third-largest rodent, attaining a body length of 36.5cm-60cm.

There have been instances where the Africa brush-tailed porcupine has also been known to feed on carcasses.

What Do Asiatic Brush-tailed Porcupines Eat?

The Asiatic brush-tailed porcupine mostly feeds on yarns, fruits, grubs, bamboo shoots, vegetation, taros, insects, horns, and bones.

Asiatic Brush-tailed Porcupines

It is native to southeast Asia and is a specie widespread in tropical and subtropical montane forests and shrubland, mainly in dense undergrowth areas.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Hystricidae
  • Genus: Atherurus
  • Species: Atherurus macrourus

Yes, it belongs to the family of Old-world porcupines and likes to hunt insects by digging them from their hideouts.

These porcupines have also been noted to stalk insects.

What Do Sumatran Porcupines Eat?

Their diet mainly consists of herbs, fallen fruits such as mangoes. They can also eat melons, sweet potatoes, beans, peanuts, animal remains (for calcium and phosphate), and sugarcane.

Sumatran Porcupines

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Hystricidae
  • Genus: Atherurus
  • Species: Hystrix sumatrae

The Sumatran porcupine is found exclusively in the Sumatran Islands, one of the islands that constitute the Indonesian Archipelago, making them a part of the old-world porcupines.

They are mostly found to be inhabiting the Tropical Rainforests in the Sumatran Islands, mostly in rocky areas.

What do Cape Porcupines Eat?

Cape porcupines mainly eat fruits, bulbs, roots, crops, and barks. At certain times, they will feed on carrion.

What do Cape Porcupines Eat

Also known as the South African porcupines, the Cape porcupines are the largest rodents in Africa, classified under the Old-world porcupines.

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They grow to reach lengths of 3 feet.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Hystricidae
  • Genus: Hystrix
  • Species: Hystrix africaeaustralis

These porcupines are native to the central and southern parts of Africa. Their preferred habitats include open areas, preferably caves or crevices.

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What Do African Crested Porcupines Eat?

The African crested porcupine (Hystric cristata) feeds on a diet that ranges from cultivated root crops to tree barks, bulbs, and fallen fruit.

What Do African Crested Porcupines Eat

It is no doubt one of the largest porcupines in wide distribution in North Africa, the sub-Saharan Africa region, and Italy.

This porcupine is classified under the Old-world porcupines. This species is mostly found in rocky and hilly habitats in these regions.

What Do Thick-spined Porcupines Eat?

The thick spined porcupine is diet consists of vegetation, fallen fruits, herbs, and insects.

What Do Thick-spined Porcupines Eat

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Hystricidae
  • Genus: Hystrix
  • Species: Hystrix crassispinis

The thick-spined porcupine is endemic to the Indo-Malayan region, mainly in forests and cultivated land.

The thick-spined porcupine is a dark brown animal that has a similar colored quill with a white base and tip. This rodent is known to fall under the Old-world porcupines.

What Do North American Porcupines Eat?

The North American porcupine (also known as Erethizon dorsatum species) is a New-world porcupine endemic to North America, as implied by its name. It feeds on clover, leaves, fruits, twigs, buds, and skunk cabbage.

What Do North American Porcupines Eat

The habitats of this rodent are usually in forests and scrubland but usually spread around coniferous, deciduous, or mixed forests.

ALSO SEE: Can Porcupines Float and Swim?

What Do Brazilian Porcupines Eat?

The Brazilian porcupine, like its North American counterpart, is classified as a New-world porcupine. Its diet consists of barks, leaves, shoots, and small animals.

What Do Brazilian Porcupines Eat

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Erethizontidae
  • Genus: Coendou
  • Species: Coendou prehensilis

The Brazilian porcupine can be seen thriving in the tropical rainforests of the Eastern and Northeastern regions of South America.

This rodent is an expert climber with a prehensile tail that comes in handy to grip tree branches while climbing. It hunts prey through stalking.

The Brazilian porcupine can grow up to 1.7ft tall and weigh about 11 pounds.

Hunting for prey is facilitated through stalking.

What Do Mexican Dwarf Hairy Porcupines Eat?

Mexican dwarf hair porcupines diet is usually from Inga, Ficus, Brosimum, buds, fruits, seeds, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Erethizontidae
  • Genus: Sphiggurus
  • Species: Sphiggurus mexicanus

They are from central Mexico with a distribution that stretches up to the Isthmus of Panama.

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Mexican dwarf hairy porcupines mainly inhabit mixed-mountain forests, rainforests, and scrubland.

What Do Stump-tailed Porcupines Eat?

The stump-tailed porcupines feed on forest leaves and infructescence of the Trumpet tree.

The stump-tailed porcupines (Coendou rufescens) are New World, medium-sized porcupines, distinguished from others by their non-prehensile tails and a reddish hue.

It mainly lives in the Andean forests, where it obtains its food.

What Do Bristle-spined Porcupines Eat?

The bristle-spined porcupines, also known as the thin-spined porcupines consume leaves, nuts, and fruits. They have a sweet tooth for cocoa trees and prefer living in an area with a rich abundance of cocoa trees.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Erethizontidae
  • Genus: Chaetomys
  • Species: Chaetomys subspinosus

The Bristle-spined porcupines are unique porcupine species with hairs that closely resemble bristles and not spines, which gives clues to their name.

Yes, these porcupines are usually brown, but can also take on a grey hue.

The species can be commonly found in the forest edges of Brazil’s Atlantic forests, hence its classification as a new-world porcupine.

When Do Porcupines Eat?

Most times, porcupines prefer to eat in the night, resting throughout the days in hollow trees, crevices, or underground caves, or burrows.

During nightfall, porcupines typically come out from their hideouts to forage for food and eat.

Other porcupines, mainly the stump-tailed porcupine was observed at the Sangay National Park in Ecuador to display both diurnal and nocturnal tendencies.

What Eats Porcupines?

Here is the list of some porcupine predators:

  • Humans
  • Dogs
  • wolves
  • ocelots
  • bobcats
  • pumas
  • mountain lions
  • coyotes
  • lynxes
  • fisher cats
  • great horned owls

How Do Porcupines Eat?

They use their sharp nails to burrow and find insects, and food such as potatoes. They have strong teeth they use to chew their food.

Can Porcupines Eat Chocolate?

It is safe to feed porcupines chocolate as treats, once in a while.

Can Porcupines Eat Strawberries?

Yes! Porcupines can eat strawberries.

Can Porcupines Eat Apples?

Sure! The ones in my yard enjoy snacking on apples once they fall off our tree.

Can a Porcupine Eat A Chicken?

No! Porcupines cannot eat a chicken. They may eat the coop before they ate an animal. Especially if there is salt around the wood.

Can Porcupine Lay Eggs?

Like all mammals, porcupines give birth to their young and do not lay eggs.

Can You Feed Porcupine Puffer Fish?

No, do not feed them pufferfish.

Can Porcupines Talk?

They are capable of making sounds but hardly do this since they are solitary animals.

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