Porcupine (sojaru) a large rodent, Hystrix indica, of the family Hystricidae, order Rodentia, characterized by hairs that have been modified as bristles, spines, or quills. Also known as the Indian Porcupine, it is an endangered species in Bangladesh. Its muzzle has dense hair and there are a few white spines on its face. Forepart of the body, limb and abdomen are covered with short spines mingled with hairs.
Loins and base of tail have spines, the longer ones (15-20 cm) are flexible, the longest are up to 30 cm long. Neck and shoulders are crowned with a crest of long bristles. Quills on the back are ornamented with deep brown or black and white rings. Rattling quills on the tail are white, large and hollow.
Head and body length is between 70-90 cm and tail between 8-10 cm. Weight is 11-18 kg. It is a nocturnal animal, and usually lives in burrows. When irritated or alarmed it erects the spines, grunts, puffs, and rattles the hollow tail quills. The quills are loosely attached to the porcupines’ skin and pull out easily, remaining embedded in any predator that comes in contact with them. It feeds on all kinds of vegetables, grains, fruits and roots. Litter size is 2-4. The species is widely distributed but occurs in the mixed evergreen forests of the NE and SE.
Bangladesh has another species of porcupine called the Brush-tailed Porcupine (Atherurus macrourus). It was once distributed in deciduous and mixed evergreen forests and in the Sundarbans mangrove forests. However, its present status is not known. Habitat loss and killing are the main threats to these species. They are also found in India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Palestine. [Md Anwarul Islam]