Sphiggurus insidiosusBahia hairy dwarf porcupine(Also: pallid hairy dwarf porcupine)

Geographic Range

Sphiggurus insidiosus can be found in evergreen forests in the Caatinga region of Brazil. This region extends from northeastern to east-central Brazil, where it is bordered by semi-arid desert. (Eisenberg and Redford, 2000; Freitas, et al., 2005)


The Caatinga region of Brazil receives powerful winds from each direction which influences rainfall. The climate is hot and arid, with a summer rainfall pattern. Caatinga consists of a mosaic of vegetation communities, from cerrado (savanna) to humid montane forest in high areas. (Freitas, et al., 2005)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 1000 m
    0.00 to 3280.84 ft
  • Average depth
    0 m
    0.00 ft

Physical Description

Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines are small porcupines, from 1.2 to 1.5 kg and 70 cm from tail to nose. The tail is prehensile, which allows greater stability in trees. Individually barbed quills and soft hair protect them from predators. All white variants of this species are sometimes observed. (Eisenberg and Redford, 2000; Walker, 1999; Woods, 1984)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    1.2 to 1.5 kg
    2.64 to 3.30 lb
  • Range length
    60 to 80 cm
    23.62 to 31.50 in


The mating system for S. insidiosus is not well documented. Screaming, barking, and grunting are used to attract females in heat. (Woods, 1984)

Female Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines are pregnant or lactating for much of their lives. They usually produce one precocial offspring with each pregnancy. The gestation period is about 200 days, with young reaching independence at about 8 to 12 weeks old. Males and females reach sexual maturity at 1.5 to 2.5 years of age. (Eisenberg and Redford, 2000; Walker, 1999)

  • Breeding interval
    Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines breed once each year.
  • Breeding season
    Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines breed throughout the year.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 1
  • Average gestation period
    200 days
  • Average weaning age
    0 minutes
  • Range time to independence
    8 to 12 weeks
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1.5 to 2.5 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1.5 to 2.5 years

Parental care in Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines is rather short. The young are born with hair and quills, and capable of walking within the first few minutes of birth. The juvenile reaches independence within 8 to 12 weeks. (Walker, 1999; Woods, 1984)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female


There is little information on longevity in S. insidiosus. Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines are expected to live to around 15 years in the wild before natural causes or predation limits their life. (Freitas, et al., 2005)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    15 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    21 years


Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines are arboreal animals, spending much of their time in trees resting. They forage at night and are fairly sedentary. (Walker, 1999; Woods, 1984)

  • Range territory size
    2 to 3 km^2

Home Range

Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines use home ranges of 12 to 35 acres in size.

Communication and Perception

Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines are usually quiet, except during the mating season when they use a series of whines, grunts, barks, and screams to attract mates. They also have vocalizations that they use between mothers and young. Like most mammals, it is likely that chemical cues are important in communicating. (Eisenberg and Redford, 2000; Walker, 1999)

Food Habits

Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines are mainly herbivorous, although they will also eat ant pupae. They eat mostly fruit, seeds, roots, and bark while foraging at night. (Eisenberg and Redford, 2000; Woods, 1984)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • flowers


Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines use their quills to deter predators. The quills are barbed, making them painful and potentially dangerous when they enter the flesh of a predator. Predators include snakes, raptors, cats, and humans. (Walker, 1999; Woods, 1984)

Ecosystem Roles

Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines benefit many plants by eating and dispersing their seeds. They also negatively affect some tree species by eating the roots and bark of trees, causing them to die. Some ant species are also preyed on by S. insidiosus. They destroy ant communities by eating the pupae and digging through the nests. (Eisenberg and Redford, 2000; Walker, 1999)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Humans hunt Bahia hairy dwarf porcupines for their quills and meat. The quills may be used for artwork, weapons, or medical reasons. (Freitas, et al., 2005; Walker, 1999)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of S. insidiosus on humans.

Conservation Status

Bahia hairy dwarf porcupine populations are considered stable currently.


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Ben Robel (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


"many forms." A species is polymorphic if its individuals can be divided into two or more easily recognized groups, based on structure, color, or other similar characteristics. The term only applies when the distinct groups can be found in the same area; graded or clinal variation throughout the range of a species (e.g. a north-to-south decrease in size) is not polymorphism. Polymorphic characteristics may be inherited because the differences have a genetic basis, or they may be the result of environmental influences. We do not consider sexual differences (i.e. sexual dimorphism), seasonal changes (e.g. change in fur color), or age-related changes to be polymorphic. Polymorphism in a local population can be an adaptation to prevent density-dependent predation, where predators preferentially prey on the most common morph.


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Eisenberg, J., K. Redford. 2000. Mammals of the Neotropics: The Central Neotropics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Freitas, R., P. Da Rocha, P. Simoes-Lopes. 2005. Habitat structrue and small mammals abundances in one semiarid landscape in the Brazilian Caatinga. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia, Vol. 22, no. 1: pp. 119-129. Accessed December 01, 2006 at http://metalib.wisconsin.edu/V/5K5YUAU8JJTC47733DE6UXQ7KRMGQ7SLMXV89BAU6H9ED7L5SN-33225?func=meta-3&short-format=002&set_number=014139&set_entry=000018&format=999.

Walker, E. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Woods, C. 1984. New World Porcupines. Pp. 688-689 in D Macdonald, ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals, Vol. 1, 1 Edition. New York: Facts on File Publications.