Cotswold Wildlife Park has welcomed a pair of tiny porcupette twins.
All expectations were exceeded when two-year-old Hannah arrived from the Czech Republic last September and was paired with the Park’s breeding male – a Cape Porcupine called Prickle.
Keeper Estelle Morgan said: “As soon as Hannah was introduced into the enclosure, they immediately began grooming each other and establishing their monogamous pair-bond. They were sleeping side by side from day one and were seen mating not long after.”
Keepers discovered two new arrivals during their early morning checks.
Estelle said: “Hannah gave birth overnight and I found the babies running and squeaking at each other in the morning. On the first checks, both adults were asleep with the porcupettes tucked underneath them so they weren’t discovered until I went into the enclosure to clean and feed them. I suspected Hannah might be pregnant as we had observed them mating frequently but we didn’t expect them to be born quite so soon! We have sexed the twins and they’re both boys.”
It is only the second time in the Park’s forty-nine-year history this species has successfully bred. The babies, also known as porcupettes, are on show in the enclosure they share with a group of inquisitive Dwarf Mongooses.
The babies are perfect miniature versions of the adults, even born with a full set of quills. After a gestation period of approximately one hundred and twelve days (the longest gestation period of any rodent), the female gives birth to offspring covered in soft, moist and flexible quills, enclosed in a thin placental sac. Immediately after birth, the quills quickly harden in the air and become prickly. They are born relatively well developed with eyes open and teeth present.
Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, said: “Baby Porcupines are incredibly popular with our visitors – essentially miniature replicas of their parents. We are always delighted with these additions to the animal collection and it is great to watch them exploring their exhibit with the same feisty attitude as the adults.”