Hystrix pumilaIndonesian porcupine

Geographic Range

Hystrix pumila is found on the Philippine islands of Busuanga, Palawan, and Balabac also known as the Palawan Faunal Region. ("Field Museum", 2002; "Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; "Palawan Council for Sustainable Development", 2004)


Hystrix pumila prefers lowlands, primary forests, secondary forests, caves (including old mine shafts), and sometimes burrows. Burrows may hold up to ten individuals. Sometimes H. pumila individuals make nests of plant material within dens. Preferred habitat of Indonesian porcupines consists of grassland and agricultural mosaic, abandoned and active plantations, and also rugged areas. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; "Palawan Council for Sustainable Development", 2004; Nowak, 1991)

  • Range elevation
    Sea level to 3500 m
    to 11482.94 ft

Physical Description

Tail length of Hystrix pumila ranges from 2.5 to 19 cm. Indonesian porcupines have short nasal bones, an enlarged infraorbital foramen, and a hystricognathous lower jaw. They have a stocky build, small eyes, small ears, and has a short rounded head with no head or neck mane. The dorsal coloring is dark brown to black with light speckles, the underside is brown to gray-white. The quills are flattened, with longer rigidity near the tip. Tail quills have shorter open-ended quills that rattle loudly. The hair is bristle-like. The forefeet have four well developed digits while the hind feet have five digits. Indonesian porcupines have short claws and the soles of the feet are smooth and naked. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Nowak, 1991)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    3.8 to 5.4 kg
    8.37 to 11.89 lb
  • Range length
    42 to 93 cm
    16.54 to 36.61 in


Indonesian porcupines are monogamous. After attracting a mate, female H. pumila raise their rear and tail high while her chest is on the ground. The male then proceeds to mount the female by clasping her sides with its front paws and balancing on its hind feet. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Dingwall, 1986; Nowak, 1991)

Indonesian porcupines usually have one young in each litter, sometimes two. In their lifetime, they can have from 6 to 12 young. Indonesian porcupines begin to eat solids at two weeks old, even though they are still receiving milk from their mother. They breed from March to December. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Sherrow, 1991)

  • Breeding interval
    Indonesian porcupines breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs from March to December.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    93 to 105 days
  • Range weaning age
    3 to 4 months
  • Average time to independence
    2 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    9 to 18 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    9 to 18 months

Like other mammals, female Indonesian porcupines nurse and care for their young until they are independent. Males typically are not involved in caring for young. (Dingwall, 1986; Sherrow, 1991)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • female


Indonesian porcupines live 9 to 15 years in the wild. A captive individual lived for 9.5 years. ("Mak Planck Institute for Demographic Research", 2002; Sherrow, 1991)


Indonesian porcupines are solitary creatures, except when mating or caring for young. They move up to 16 kilometers at night when searching for food. Indonesian porcupines den in rock crevices or under tree buttresses. These porcupines walk heavily on the soles of their feet and run with a shuffling gait. If Indonesian porcupines feel threatened, they raise their quills. If that does not work, they stamp their feet, move their quills, and charge backward at their opponent. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Dingwall, 1986; Nowak, 1991; Sherrow, 1991)

Home Range

Home range size of Indonesian porcupines is not reported. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; "Palawan Council for Sustainable Development", 2004)

Communication and Perception

Male Indonesian porcupines use vocalizations to attract females for mating. They use hums, whines, and grunts. Also, males urinate on females. When a mate is found, the male and female dance on their hind legs and whine and hum together. They sniff each other and put their paws on each other’s shoulder and sometimes rub noses. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Dingwall, 1986)

Indonesian porcupines have a keen sense of smell, which they use to locate food. They have poor eyesight. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Dingwall, 1986)

Food Habits

Indonesian porcupines feed on vegetation, including coconuts, roots, bulbs, tubers, fruits, and berries. Sometimes they will feed on small vertebrates, insects, or carrion. They gnaw on bones for calcium and otherwise gnaw on branches, tree bark, and tree trunks to wear down their ever growing incisors. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; "Palawan Council for Sustainable Development", 2004; Dingwall, 1986)

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • carrion
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


Indonesian porcupines, like other porcupines, use their formidable quills to defend themselves against predators. There are no known predators in the wild. ("Palawan Council for Sustainable Development", 2004)

Ecosystem Roles

Indonesian porcupines aid in seed dispersal through the defecation of seeds of fruit they have eaten. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Dingwall, 1986; Nowak, 1991; Sherrow, 1991)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Indonesian porcupines are hunted for their meat. Also, the quills of H. pumila can be collected for ornaments and talismans. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; "Palawan Council for Sustainable Development", 2004)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Indonesian porcupines are seen as nuisance animals on coconut plantations and in other areas as they gnaw on trees and leaves. They may transmit diseases due to the ticks and fleas they carry. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; "Palawan Council for Sustainable Development", 2004)

  • Negative Impacts
  • injures humans
    • carries human disease
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Hystrix pumila populations are considered stable. ("Palawan Council for Sustainable Development", 2004)


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Casey Spinler (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


flesh of dead animals.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


2002. "Field Museum" (On-line). Hystrix pumila. A Synopsis of the Mammalian Fauna of the Philippine Islands. Accessed October 23, 2006 at http://www.fieldmuseum.org/philippine_Mammals/Hystrix_pumila.htm.

2005. "Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia" (On-line). Indonesian porcupine. Accessed October 11, 2006 at http://www.answers.com/topic/hystrix-pumila.

2002. "Mak Planck Institute for Demographic Research" (On-line). “Longevity Records Life Spans of Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Fish, Table 1. Record LifeSpans(years) of Mammals. Accessed October 16, 2006 at http://www.demogr.mpg.de/longevityrecords/0203.htm.

2004. "Palawan Council for Sustainable Development" (On-line). Palawan Porcupine. Accessed October 22, 2006 at http://www.pcsd.ph/photo_gallery/fauna/palawanporcupine.htm.

Dingwall, L. 1986. Porcupines. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Limited.

Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's mammals of the World Fifth ed. Volume II. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press.

Sherrow, V. 1991. The Porcupine. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Dillon Press, Inc.