RFI: Crested Porcupine and other mammals, central Italy

Hi all

In mid-October I will be spending a week in the Abruzzo National Park in the Apennine Mountains of western central Italy. I will also have a couple of days to explore Umbria or the Rome area.

My principle targets in Abruzzo are the Marsican Brown Bear and Apennine Chamois. I would also like to see Beech Marten, European Free-tailed Bat and any other mammals that are not found in the UK. Crested Porcupine is also high on my list, although I have read conflicting information regarding its distribution in Abruzzo. I would assume this would be easier to find in Umbria?

I would be extremely grateful if anyone could provide hints or site information for any of these mammals, especially the Porcupine (info on this creature is hard to come by). Directions to any bat roosts etc would also be appreciated.

Finally, is it advisable to use a spotlight in Italy, or is this likely to attract attention from law enforcement? Presumably it is not permitted in the national parks? Any advice on this would be most welcome.

Thank you in anticipation

Mike Richardson



  • Luca Peruzzi

    Chamois is assured 100%, for Marsican Brown Bear best period of year is mid-august to mid-september, I don’t know in october (for information you should contact Ecotur in Pescasseroli, they are specialized in bear watching in the park).
    Crested Porcupine is a very common mammal all over central Italy (including Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo, etc.), from low hills to low mountains (ie quite rare in the Abruzzo NP), and you may encounter it anywhere in farmland roads during night drives. It is even common inside the city of Rome, in residential areas! If you are very lucky you can do it.
    In Quartiere Africano in Rome there is also a known colony of Tadarida teniotis, but I have no idea of the precise location (try to google it).
    Kuhl’s and Savi’s Pipistrelles are the most common and easy-to-see bats in urban areas in Italy, but far less so in october. I also saw a Roman Mole in Recanati (Marche Region) few days ago.
    For lots of information on the distribution of Italian mammals go to http://www.gisbau.uniroma1.it/species.php

  • Jon Hall

    Hi Mike, seems like Luca is the man to ask on all this stuff. Glad that there is someone so knowledgeable on Italy reading this.

    I have never been spotlighting in Italy other than Sicily, where there was no problem. I’d be suprised if there was much problem with spotlighting anywhere, national parks or otherwise. It is possible I suppose you might get stopped – like you might anywhere – on suspicion of shooting things (though even that I doubt) but so long as you’ve left your rifle at home I cannot imagine there would be a problem! I’ve also heard of Porcupines in the suburbs of Florence and its an animal I would like to see too so I look forward to hearing how you get on with that one in particular.

  • Mike Richardson

    Luca – thank you very much for such an informative reply to my question. Ecotur still do bear watching in mid-October so I might still be in with a chance, although I realise a lot of luck is involved. The website you suggested is a great resource and very useful. I will look into the Rome bat roost as soon as possible.

    Jon – thanks for the spotlight advice. On a recent trip to Spain (see Mark How’s 2010 trip report) we used a spotlight several hours a night without any trouble, including in a couple of national parks. On our return we were informed by several people that we were extremely lucky not to have been fined by the Seprona (Wildlife Police). Apparently these fines can be very severe. The use of small mammal traps is also prohibited without a permit, even on private land.

    A couple of people have suggested Italian laws are less strict so I think I’ll risk the spotlight!

  • Luca Peruzzi

    Hi Jon and Mike, if you need any more information on Italy do not hesitate to contact me, either here or bilaterally at luca.peruzzi@esteri.it: would be glad to help.
    I’ll be searching too for brown bear (and white-backed woodpecker) in the Abruzzo NP from 10-12 september. Mike please do let me know if you succeed on bear and porcupine and other stuff.
    ciao, L
    PS Sorry for my “roman” English!

  • Stefanie

    I’ve never been mammalwatching in Italy but I got some older information from a friend on porcupines. As it seems that you can encounter porcupines in many places, it might not be extremely usefull, but it could be a start. About 10 years ago she found several spines of porcupines near Pomarance on the property of Agriturismo San Carlo. Maybe they can provide more information on more-or-less certain sights of this mammal.
    I also know somebody who spent a week looking for brown bears in Italy (unsuccessfully) in April last year. He did find tracks. He returns from field work next month, so I can ask him for more info.

  • Mike Richardson

    Luca – I will write a trip report for this site if I’m successful with any of the mammals. I would also be interested in hearing about your September trip (I’m also targeting lilfordi woodpecker). I will email you a link to some recent information on Abruzzo. Thanks again for your help, and please be assured that your English is perfect!

    Stefanie – I will follow up that tip. If your friend has any additional information it would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.

  • Eleanor Brown

    We live in Le Marche and we’re we are at our wits end with porcupine damage in our garden The destruction is unbelievable We have recently taken to soaking cotton wool balls in oil of mint and renewing it for the last couple of nights. We think it might be acting as a repellent.
    We also have wild boar, deer, badgers, foxes, and pine marten all visit our little oasis.
    Any advice on moving the porcs on would be extremely helpful
    Many thanks

    • mauricetijm

      Dear Eleanor Brown, I sure can imagine that the porcupines are destructive. I am impressed by your wildlife rich living environment. How did you proceed? Are the Porcupines still a problem?

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