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Porcupines are rodentian mammals with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that protect against predators. The term covers two families of animals: Old World porcupines and New World porcupines. Both families display superficially similar coats of quills. Despite this, however, the two groups are distinct from each other.
The Old World porcupines live in southern Europe, western and southern Asia, and most of Africa. They are large, terrestrial, and strictly nocturnal.
New World porcupines, on the other hand, come from North America and northern South America. They live in wooded areas and can climb trees. In fact, some species spend their entire lives in the branches. These animals are less strictly nocturnal than their Old World relatives, and generally smaller.
Most porcupines are about 60–90 cm (25–36 in) long, with an 20–25 cm (8–10 in) long tail. Weighing 5–16 kg (12–35 lb), they are rounded, large, and slow. These animals can be various shades of brown, gray, and white. Their spiny protection resembles that of the unrelated hedgehogs and Australi echidnas.
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