Mammalian Biology

, Volume 75, Issue 6, pp 538–546 | Cite as

Diet of the thin-spined porcupine (Chaetomys subspinosus), an Atlantic forest endemic threatened with extinction in southeastern Brazil

  • Rodrigo B. Souto de Lima
  • Pedro A. Oliveira
  • Adriano G. ChiarelloEmail author
Original Investigation


Chaetomys is a poorly known, monotypic genus of tree porcupine threatened with extinction due to deforestation and habitat fragmentation. Its nocturnal habit, relatively restricted distribution and low level of activity have conspired for decades against detailed field studies. Here the diet of the species in restinga forests is described for the first time. Restinga is a subtype of lowland Atlantic forest occurring on sandy soils close to the Atlantic littoral in Brazil. Three radio-collared females were monitored for 12 months between March 2005 and February 2006. Leaves were the most heavily consumed dietary item, varying from 71.9% to 75.4% of the diet of each individual, followed by flowers (7.7% — 15.7%) and fruits (0 — 1.4%). Animals fed on 57 trees from 14 species, with a higher concentration on Pera glabrata (49.8%) and Tapiriria guianensis (22.7%). Pera glabrata is locally abundant and widely distributed in the Atlantic forest. Each individual consumed a smaller subset of plant species (4-10 species/individual) and shared only the two most important tree species (P. glabrata and T. guianensis). Results corroborate previous studies indicating that Chaetomys is a folivore, perhaps the most folivorous amongst the Erethizontidae. Since the most consumed plant species are relatively common and widespread, Chaetomys might thrive in a broader range of habitats than previously suspected, including secondary forests.


Erethizontidae Feeding habits Folivore Atlantic forest 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rodrigo B. Souto de Lima
    • 1
  • Pedro A. Oliveira
    • 1
  • Adriano G. Chiarello
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-graduação em Zoologia de VertebradosPontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC-Minas)Belo HorizonteBrazil

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