we are lucky enough to spot most mammals, its usually as they are running
away. But porcupines like to
sit quietly in trees, so if they live in your area and you spot one,
you're likely to get a pretty long look. Even when porcupines are on the
ground, they shuffle and waddle along—this animal doesn't need speed.
The thousands of quills it carries on its back provide plenty of
protection from predators.
porcupine is a medium-sized rodent, related to mice and rats and beaver.
animal is about 50 cm long (20 inches,) not counting the tail, and weighs
from 4.5 to 13 kg (10 to 28 pounds.)
Long black and brown guard hairs cover its body and quills are
mixed in among them. Quills
are really modified hairs.
are nocturnal, which means they are actively primarily at night.
In winter they like to munch on bark and evergreen needles.
In summer they wander around fields and orchards in search of warm
weather snacks, such as grasses, leaves, dandelions, clover and other
wildflowers. Porcupines can
swim, so pond weeds, water lilies, and arrowhead are all part of the
enjoy munching on a variety of trees--hemlock, fir, and pine, as well as
maple, beech, birch, oak, elm, cherry and willow.
They also eat all kinds of woody shrubs. These animals have been known to gnaw on other wood objects,
such as old boards and even houses. They
are attracted by salt and may chew on any tool handle that has salt left
from human sweat.
not in trees or feeding, porcupines prefer the protection of a den.
Dens can be found in rock crevices, caves, hollow logs, abandoned
mines, and even under houses and barns.
course, the most famous characteristic of this animal are the quills.
When a porcupine is threatened, it assumes a defensive
posture—head and shoulders lowered, back to the threat, every quill
erect, tail thrashing back and fourth.
This is usually enough to scare away any would-be predator.
come out of the porcupine's skin easily, but they quickly become embedded
in the enemy, working their way in deeper and deeper.
Not only is this painful, it can be fatal.
In spite of this prickly suit of armor, there are some animals that prey on porcupines. The fisher is the most formidable predator, but great horned owls, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and wolves will make a meal out of the porcupine if there's an opportunity.
Porcupines live in most of the western United States and parts of the Northeast, and throughout Canada.
for IWRC by:
Kieran Lindsey, New Mexica, USA