The Malayan Porcupine (scientific name: Hystrix brachyuran) is a stout and large rodent, measuring about 63 to 72cm in length and weighing around 0.7kg to 2.4kg.
At birth, baby porcupines have quills that are soft, becoming harder as they enter adulthood. The front half of its body is dark brown to near black, while the rear half is covered with long, sharp, and rigid quills, which are modified hair. These quills are often black and white, or dark brown and white.
The Malayan Porcupine has a relatively short tail, which is covered with quills which they rattle when threatened. When attacked by a predator, the Malayan Porcupine charges backwards as a defence mechanism, stabbing these foes with their quills.
During the day, the Malayan Porcupine rests in its burrow or den, only coming out to forage at night, looking for fallen fruit, roots, tubers, bark, decaying animal flesh and insects to feed on. It also gnaws on bones, and crushes seeds and nuts with its large incisors and powerful jaws.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Malayan Porcupine was commonly seen in forests and plantations of Singapore. But there were no sightings of porcupines after the 1970s, so for many years, this species was thought to have possibly become extinct in Singapore, wiped out by deforestation and hunting.
In 2005, the Malayan Porcupine was rediscovered on Pulau Tekong! Subsequently, sightings were also recorded at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the Western Catchment, and Pulau Ubin.
Today, the Malayan Porcupine is still considered an endangered species in Singapore. These shy and nocturnal creatures live in the underground burrows of our forests, quietly and out of sight.
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