Crested porcupines share their caves with snakes

01 December 2010

By Frank Japhet - Scout, Chada Katavi

Last month when we were looking for a place to flycamp in Kapimbye area, nearby Kamlangala river (temporary river), we saw a crested porcupine inside the cave which is located beside of the Kamlangala river. They looked like a family, their number was ranging between 6 and 8. When we were still over 10 meters away, we saw a snake was looking out from that cave and it went out to sun itself on top of the rocks, but went back quickly into the cave. Due to the colour and size and length, it seemed that it was a Black Mamba.

This is an interesting symbiotic relationship between Crested Porcupines and snakes although their habits differ in that porcupines are active during the night while Black Mambas are active during the daytime and only when disturbed are active at night. The people of this area whom have their homes located near by Katavi National Park, prefer to hunt and kill porcupines by using their dogs and spears even, to dig them from their burrows. Due to this fact, the porcupine knowing that people are looking for them in order to kill them, sometimes live and share their burrows/caves with snakes as their defensive mechanism.

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