Home   Gravesend   News   Article

Kent zoo Hemsley Conservation Centre welcomes rare prehensile tailed porcupine


More news, no ads

LEARN MORE

A rare species of porcupine has been born at a Kent animal park which is the only place in the country to breed them.

The latest arrival at Hemsley Conservation Centre, at Fairseat near Vigo, is a prehensile tailed porcupine – which means it can grasp things with its tail.

The rare porcupine was the first to be born in the UK for 10 years

The zoo is one of only two in the UK to keep the species and is the only one in the country to hold a breeding group and mixed sexes.

They are notoriously difficult to breed and the centre started trying with its group in April 2021 – the first time in 10 years they had been bred in the UK.

The porcupette – as baby porcupines are known – arrived at 4.40pm on Christmas Day as keepers were finishing for the day.

It is not yet known whether it is male or female and has not been given a name but joins its mother and father and older sister – who was born at the park last year – in the family group.

The latest arrival at the Hemsley Conservation Centre near Vigo is a prehensile tailed porcupine. Picture: Hemsley Conservation Centre
The latest arrival at the Hemsley Conservation Centre near Vigo is a prehensile tailed porcupine. Picture: Hemsley Conservation Centre

Very little is known about how the animals live in the wild and research being carried out by conservationists at the park is trying to develop a greater understanding of the species.

The rodents live in trees in lowland rainforest or savannah landscapes or dry forests and feed mostly on fruit, seeds and sometimes bark.

Although the species is not one of the most endangered animals, their wild habitats are under threat and are not a commonly seen animal.

The babies look very different to how they will appear when they are adults.

They are born with bright orange hair and quills completely covering their body by about three weeks old.

An adult prehensile tailed porcupine at Hemsley Conservation Centre
An adult prehensile tailed porcupine at Hemsley Conservation Centre

Mature adults grow to around 4.5kg to 5kg in weight and have a prehensile tail and long-clawed feet.

They are officially classified as of "least concern" but their population is declining in the wild.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More