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Hystricidae (Old World porcupines; order Rodentia, suborder Hystricomorpha) A family of mainly vegetarian, burrowing rodents in which some body hairs are modified to form spines. The body is thickset, the legs are short with five digits, the first digit of the fore limbs being reduced. The tail is long in some species and bears modified spines. Old World porcupines are slow-moving, relying for defence on their colouring and on the noise made by the movement of their spines. The hystricoid arrangement of the jaw muscles probably evolved independently in Old and New World porcupines (Erethizontidae), so these are not necessarily related closely. There are four genera, with about 16 species, distributed through Africa, Italy, and southern Asia.

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