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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Long-tailed Porcupine

Family : Hystricidae
Species : Trichys fasciculata

Head-Body Length : up to 44 cm
Tail Length : up to 24 cm
Weight : up to 2 kg

The Long-tailed Porcupine is the only species in the genus Trichys. It occurs in a wide range of habitats including lowland forest of different types (primary, secondary, forest edge) up to 900 metres elevation, and cultivated areas. It is nocturnal in habits, and sleeps by day in burrows.

Its spines or quills are pale at the base and brown at the tip. These generally lie flat on the body, and as a consequence its body shape is rather like a large rat. Its upperparts are brown and its underside is pale. This species is considerably smaller than the widespread Malayan Porcupine Hystrix brachyura.

Its long tail, which bears a small brush of bristles at the tip, is often lost (as in the example in Figure 2) : this can cause some confusion when trying to identify the species from photographs. Quite why this occurs is unclear, but it may sometimes be a result of attack by a predator.

It feeds on a variety of vegetable matter including fallen seeds, shoots and roots. Many species of porcupine are food hoarders, collecting fallen fruits and seeds and carrying them to favoured storage areas, and they therefore play a role in seed dispersal.

The Long-tailed Porcupine occurs in Sumatra, some parts of Peninsular Malaysia (restricted to western areas ?) and Borneo, where it may be locally common. There are no records from Singapore.

Fig 1 : Example from Gunung Leuser, Sumatra. Photo thanks to Matthew Luskin.

Figs 2 and 4 : Example from Lambir Hills, Sarawak, Borneo making use of a fallen tree to traverse an area of soft mud next to a stream. This specimen has lots its entire tail.

Fig 3 : Boggy, forest edge habitat at Lambir Hills.

References : M2, M5


Fig 1
ゥ  Matthew Luskin

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4