Note on an Unusual Gastrolith in a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine, Coendu prehensilis (Linnacus 1758)

Hans E.A. Boos


The prehensile-tailed porcupine Coendu prehensilis is a Neotropical mammal belonging to the Order Rodentia in the Family known as the Erithezodontidae. The Emperor Valley Zoo, in Port of Spain has had on display many specimens of the porcupine over the years of the Zoo’s existence. When an animal dies in captivity and whenever possible, a necropsy was done to ascertain the cause of death. One such death in 1988 indicated a necropsy as a large mass could be seen in the abdominal area which, when palpated, was solid to the touch. At necropsy, Dr. Charles DeGannes, the zoo’s veterinarian, found a large stony mass occupying the entire area in the stomach that would normally be used to process the food eaten. This mass was approximately ovoid in shape measuring about 20 cm in its long axis. It felt like a large stone and must have weighed not less than a kilogram.

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