An animal known as a porcupine has several long, thin, sharp spikes on its spine that stick out to defend against predators. There are several species of porcupine around the world. Porcupines made the journey from Africa to Brazil 30 millennia ago across the Atlantic Ocean. They quickly moved across North and South America while slowly evolving. The North American porcupine now happily resides in Alaska, Canada, and parts of Mexico.
The North American porcupine, also called Erethizon dorsatum, is the second largest mouse on the continent. The only larger animal is a beaver. These creatures can be identified by their thick spiky fur covered in spikes, which they use for insulation and defense.
The term “porcupine” is translated from Latin as “pen pig.” It is exciting to see these diurnal, solitary, almost blind and lazy animals in their natural environment. Be careful to take a photo if you come across any!
Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about porcupines:
- An animal known as the porcupine is frequently referred to as a rodent.
- A porcupine’s body and head are two to three feet long. Eight to ten more inches can be found on their tails.
- They can range between 12 and 35 kg in weight.
- They use growls and screams as a means of communication.
- It is called a “family” of porcupines when there are several members.
- Soft hair and pointed quills are present on porcupines.
- Unlike other mammals, porcupines are not covered in quills on their faces, bellies, or feet.
- Porcupines are estimated to have more than 30,000 quills.
- When the porcupine senses danger, its quills sprout and separate from its body.
- Porcupines can replace lost quills with new ones.
- A porcupine cannot shoot quills.
- Removing the quills is challenging due to the scales and spines on the tips.
- If a porcupine falls and gets caught by its quills, the natural antibiotics on its skin will prevent the wound from becoming infected.
- To warn potential predators of their presence, porcupines emit a scent.
- Porcupines are herbivores since they consume fruits, leaves, shoots and a significant amount of bark, stems and wood.
- They are excellent climbers and prefer to sleep in trees.
- In the wild, porcupines typically live between 5 and 7 years.
- Autumn is when porcupines breed and their gestation period is 202 days.
- A newborn porcupine’s quills are soft, but they harden quickly, usually within the first hour. On the day of birth, they can already climb trees.
- Most babies leave their mother’s care after a few months.
- In bad weather, porcupines stay close to their caves instead of hibernating.
- They usually build burrows in rocky or hollow trees.
Don’t be alarmed if you see a porcupine in your environment or neighborhood. He won’t bother you if you don’t try to reach or contact him. Your pet is more likely to get a porcupine quill in the snout. Pull it out immediately if a feather gets stuck in your pet.
Share your awesome porcupine photos on Facebook and Instagram if you’re in Big Sky Country.