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Porcupine

Updated on September 10, 2014

Mr. Porcupine in the woods

The facts about porcupines of the north woods , they are rodents? Like most rodents they love to chew on things also.

They tend to move very slow so often are often are found as road kill.

It has black to brownish-yellow fur and strong, short legs. It has hairless soles on its feet so it can climb trees. It has a rounded body, small ears with a small head.

The most recognizable feature of the porcupine is its quills.

They can cause a lot of damage as they eat the plants that they love.

The ones I have seen move very slowly with a slight wobble to their walk.

They only have one major enemy in the north that attacks and kills them.

What might that animal be?

Behavior

Solitary And Slow Movers

The common porcupine is a solitary animal, although it has been known to den with other porcupines in the winter.

It makes its dens in decaying logs and hollow trees.

The common porcupine doesn't hibernate, but may stay in its den during real bad weather.

The porcupine is a good swimmer with its hollow quills that help keep it afloat. It is a very vocal animal that uses a wide-variety of calls including moans, grunts, coughs, wails, whines, shrieks and tooth clicking which we seldom will hear.

Look for them by day to be high in the trees. Porcupines look like a dark round ball about the size of a raccoon.

Porcupine Quills

Best Left Alone

A porcupine may have up to as many as 30,000 quills which are actually hairs with barbed tips on the ends.

Quills are solid at the tip and base and hollow for most of the shaft.

The porcupine quills are on all parts of its body, except for the stomach area.

The longest quills are on its rump.

The shortest quills are on its cheeks.

They use these quills as the main defense system.

Only one predator the Fisher poses a significant threat to attack the porcupine.

These large weasels will wait for the right moment and inflict quick bites to the porcupine's face and nose, areas that can take little abuse before the injury is fatal.

Many hunting dogs have learn about porcupines the hard way that they should stay away from this little guy.

I feel sorry for this animal that had to learn the hard way, it must be in pain.

Native Americans have long used these quills in their traditional costumes for dance.

Porcupine - Porcupine video

This is a porcupine that did not really want pictures taken.

Range Of Porcupines

The common porcupine can be found in most areas of Canada and the western United States south to Mexico.

In the Eastern United States, it can be found in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and New England.

Main Diet

Porcupines, like most rodents, are vegetarians.

Their winter diet consists of needles, buds and the bark of pines, hemlock, maples,oak and birch.

How they survive on foods with a protein content so low is truly amazing how they survive.

Porcupines are sloppy eaters who drop a lot of greenery that provides a welcome snack for white-tailed deer during winters deep snows.

If you see a small pile of freshly-snipped branches while on a winter walk, porcupines are nearby.

They travel the same paths every day.

Near their dens you'll probably see fecal piles and smell the strong scent of urine.

The common porcupine during summer months eats leaves, twigs and green plants like skunk cabbage and clover.

Quills
Quills

Habitat Of Porcupines

The common porcupine lives in the dense forests in the northern states. In the west, it can be found in scrubby areas.

They occasionally wander out of the woods near highways causing them to be struck by traffic.

Getting quality porcupine pictures can be difficult because of the areas in which they maintain their normal living place.

Reproduction

Porcupines mate in late summer or early fall.

Porcupines have been known to be very vocal during mating season and males often fight over females.

The male does an elaborate dance then sprays urine over the head of the female.

Seven months after mating the female gives birth one single baby.

When the baby porcupine is born, its quills are soft then harden about an hour after birth.

The baby porcupine will begin to forage for food on its own after only a couple of days and stay with mother for about six months.

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    • mojoCNYartist profile image

      Dan 5 years ago from CNY

      I wonder if these guys are not very common in NY, because I've only seen one in my lifetime and it was dead on the side of the road.