The Secret Seven are a group of animals that are notoriously difficult to spot in their natural habitat. Remember to pack your binoculars and have your camera ready when venturing out on a Madikwe game drive in search of these rare animals. Their elusive behaviour has made it challenging for them to be studied and thus many mysteries remain about their nature.

One of the Secret Seven is the porcupine. Best spotted at Madikwe, the porcupine is a fascinating creature. Solitary and nocturnal, they are active at night when they forage for food. They have poor eyesight but make up for it with an excellent sense of hearing and smell.

Shooting quills

The name ‘porcupine’ derives from the Latin words ‘porcus spinosus’ meaning ‘spiny pig’. They are the largest member of the rodent family and are easily identified by their quills. These quills act as a natural form of defence, and they can detach from the body. When threatened, a porcupine will shake its quills to make a rattling noise and shoot them out at the predator. The quills are also barbed, making it difficult for predators to remove them once they have been lodged in their flesh.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a porcupine on your safari, be sure to admire this amazing creature from a safe distance. Although they are not usually aggressive, they will defend themselves if they feel threatened. And with quills that can reach up to 30cm in length, you don’t want to get too close.

Black and white porcupine quills still attached to the animal.

The porcupine – appearance and diet

Porcupines are heavily built. The African crested porcupine is the largest porcupine in the world and can grow to be over a metre in length. Porcupine quills are actually modified hairs. They are well camouflaged, and their quills provide excellent defence against predators. Unfortunately, this also makes them difficult for safari goers to spot. The best time to see them is at night on a Madikwe game drive.

The porcupine diet consists mainly of roots, tubers, bark, fruits and vegetables. They will also eat insects, small mammals and birds. Porcupines are an important part of the ecosystem, as their foraging helps to disperse seeds and promote new growth.

Other Secret Seven animals at Madikwe

While searching for the porcupine, also keep an eye out for the Serval, Large Spotted Genet, Pangolin Aardvark, African Wild Cat and Civet during your South African Safari.

Madikwe Safari Lodge is located in South Africa, 22 kilometres from the border of Botswana and offers an unparalleled safari experience. With expert guides and a wide variety of wildlife, you are sure to have an unforgettable time. Book your stay today.