Prehensile-tailed porcupine

The prehensile-tailed porcupines or Coendous (genus Coendou) are a group of arboreal porcupine found in Central and South America. They are closely related to the other Neotropical tree porcupines (genus Echinoprocta and genus Sphiggurus) and these three are sometimes treated as subgenera of Coendou instead of distinct genera.


Among the most notable features of Coendou porcupines is their unspined prehensile tail. The front and hind feet are also modified for grasping. These limbs all contribute to making this animal an adept climber, an adaptation to living most of their lives in trees.

They feed on leaves, shoots, fruits, bark, roots, and buds. They can be pests of plantation crops.

Young are born with soft hair that hardens to quills with age. Adults are slow-moving and will roll into a ball when threatened and on the ground. The record longevity is just over 17 years.


Woods and Kilpatrick (2005) argue that although members of the genus Sphiggurus are sometimes included in Coendou, the two are distinct enough to warrant recognition of separate genera.


  • Nowak, Ronald M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1936 pp. ISBN 0-8018-5789-9
  • Woods, C. A. and C. W. Kilpatrick. 2005. Hystricognathi. Pp 1538-1600 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference 3rd ed. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.

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