Prehensile-tailed porcupine Coendou prehensilis, from here.

Belongs within: Caviomorpha.

The Erethizontidae includes the New World porcupines, a group of large spiny rodents that are not directly related to the Old World porcupines of the Hystricidae. Erethizontid porcupines differ from hystricids in being semi-arboreal rather than terrestrial, and having quills arranged singly rather than in clusters as in Hystricidae. The majority of species are found in South and Central America, with the North American porcupine Erethizon dorsatum being found in Canada and the United States. Members of the genera Coendou and Sphiggurus have hairless, prehensile tails that aid them in climbing.

Characters (from Nowak 1999): Heavyset, relatively large rodents. Head and body length 300-860 mm, tail length 75-150 mm. Some of the hairs modified into short, sharp spines with overlapping barbs. Quills are embedded singly in the skin musculature. Pelage is marked with blackish to brownish, yellowish, or whitish bands. Foot modified for arboreal life: sole widened, first digit of hind foot sometimes replaced by a broad, movable band. Functional digits with strong curved claws. Limbs fairly short. Tail relatively short in Echinoprocta and Erethizon but long and prehensile in Coendou. Axis and third cervical vertebra fused in Erethizon and Coendou. Dental formula (i 1/1, c 0/0, pm 1/1, m3/3) × 2 = 20. Cheek teeth rooted, with reentrant folds.

<==Erethizontidae [Erethizontinae, Erethizontoidea, Erethizontomorpha]
    |--Echinoprocta rufescens GA90, IT07
    |--Erethizon GA90
    |    |--E. dorsatum (Linnaeus 1758) [=Hystrix dorsata] B75
    |    `--E. epixanthum B74
    |--Sphiggurus IT07
    |    |--S. insidiosus IT07
    |    |--S. mexicanus IT07
    |    |--S. pallidus FS01
    |    |--S. spinosus IT07
    |    |--S. vestitus IT07
    |    `--S. villosus IT07
    |--Coendou GA90
    |    |--C. bicolor GA90
    |    |    |--C. b. bicolor GA90
    |    |    `--C. b. simonsi GA90
    |    |--C. ichillus Voss & da Silva 2001 N10
    |    |--C. koopmani Handley et al. 1992 N10
    |    |--C. mexicanus GA90
    |    |--C. prehensilis GA90
    |    |--C. roosmalenorum Voss & da Silva 2001 N10
    |    `--C. rothschildi IT07
    `--Eopululo wigmorei MJ11

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B75] Bowles, J. B. 1975. Distribution and biogeography of mammals of Iowa. Special Publications, The Museum, Texas Tech University 9: 1-184.

[B74] Bugge, J. 1974. The cephalic arterial system in insectivores, primates, rodents and lagomorphs, with special reference to the systematic classification. Acta Anatomica 87 (Suppl 62): 1-160.

[FS01] Flannery, T. & P. Schouten. 2001. A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World’s Extinct Animals. Text Publishing: Melbourne.

[GA90] Glanz, W. E., & S. Anderson. 1990. Notes on Bolivian mammals. 7. A new species of Abrocoma (Rodentia) and relationships of the Abrocomidae. American Museum Novitates 2991: 1-32.

[IT07] Isaac, N. J. B., S. T. Turvey, B. Collen, C. Waterman & J. E. M. Baillie. 2007. Mammals on the EDGE: conservation priorities based on threat and phylogeny. PloS One 2 (3): e296.

[MJ11] Meredith, R. W., J. E. Janečka, J. Gatesy, O. A. Ryder, C. A. Fisher, E. C. Teeling, A. Goodbla, E. Eizirik, T. L. L. Simão, T. Stadler, D. L. Rabosky, R. L. Honeycutt, J. J. Flynn, C. M. Ingram, C. Steiner, T. L. Williams, T. J. Robinson, A. Burk-Herrick, M. Westerman, N. A. Ayoub, M. S. Springer & W. J. Murphy. 2011. Impacts of the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution and KPg extinction on mammal diversification. Science 334: 521-524.

[N10] Naish, D. 2010. Tetrapod Zoology: Book One. CFZ Press: Bideford (UK).

Nowak, R. M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th ed., vol 2. John Hopkins University Press.


  1. That tree is very out of date. Voss et al. (2013) is the current:
    Sphiggurus is no more.

  2. Thanks, I've added that reference to the to-do list.


Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS