Porcupine Facts, Habitat, Food, Predators, Fights And Attacks

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What does the first thought that comes to your mind when you read this word ‘porcupine’?

As the word says, ‘porcus’ means sharp spines.

The porcupine is the third largest rodent mammal which means it is warm-blooded just like humans. It has hair on its body, and it reproduces by sexual methods of reproduction.

Porcupine Habitat and Facts

It is a herbivore and a member of the rodent family that feeds on plants and is divided into two classes Hystricidae (Old World porcupines) and Erethizontidae (New World porcupines).

The porcupine is the prickly rodent with rounded bodies surrounded with all spines or quills. The porcupine’s body is coated with the brown-grey needle-like quills which protect it. It has short legs and a foot with five toes.

Porcupine rare HD
Source- Animals.sandiegozoo.org

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The porcupine mostly lives in North America and weighs about fifteen to thirty-five pounds. Mostly the porcupine is an herbivore, with poor eyesight but yes, great smelling sense. They feed at night so they can see better at night, and they are not too aggressive.

How Porcupine protect themselves?

Every species of porcupine has quills which differ in length and patterns. Old World porcupines have long quills up to 20 inches that take the shape of the skirt around the porcupine. The shells are narrow and blunt, whereas the new world porcupine has sharp quills that range around four inches and work as a shield for it. The new world porcupine has quill-laden tails that they use during fights.

Leopard injured by porcupine quills
Source- dailymail.co.uk

These quills have a small hook that pulls the prey’s skin and helps to predate. The porcupine can regenerate its quills if lost. However, generally, they are stuck on its skin so does not shed while porcupine moves or shakes itself.

What Porcupine made of?

The quills of the porcupine are made of thick layer of keratin. These quills are only present on the upper side of the porcupine. These quills ease the movement of the porcupine. These quills don’t mean that the porcupine lives carefree. These quills are flat until it senses a predator around it. When a porcupine is born, its quills are generally very blunt and soft, but as it grows, it starts hardening within a few months.

Where do porcupines live?

The old world porcupine is brush-tailed generally live in parts of Africa and India whereas the new world porcupine lives in Canada, North and Central America. The porcupine is found in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England.

As told above, porcupines are classified into two classes- old world and new world. Both porcupines acquire a wide range of habitats.

The porcupines spend their time on trees and has about 30000 quills. they feed on stems, fruits, leaves, roots, tubers, bark, and other plants. They are generally fond of cassava, potatoes, and carrots. Porcupine set their home in burrows and find their peace in their natural shelters.

Do Porcupines lives in holes?

The porcupines live in holes which are often made by other animals. Porcupines always travel in groups with their mates and start living in the caves, burrows, crevices which are often dug by other animals. Sometimes, they store their food in the holes somewhere deep down as per their needs. They make use of the front teeth to have healthy eating habits and use their tails that hold the grips for them to climb.

Can Porcupines swim?

Each species of porcupines have different abilities and habits. The old world porcupines can swim well, but they don’t have the ability to climb or jump much whereas, the new world porcupines live on trees. They make a den in the trees or live in tangled tree roots. The species of new world porcupines use their long curved claws to climb trees and also, they have tails that make their grip on the trees.

However, what is common in both the species of porcupines?

They have high smelling power. They smell food and their prey from a distance, and also, their spines save them from their enemies.

What Does Porcupine Eats?

The old world porcupines have sharp front teeth to chew bark, berries, and fruits. Porcupines of every area have a different diet. The porcupines living in farms feed on crops like groundnuts, pumpkins, and melons too.

The new world porcupines have a habit of eating pine needles, fruits, nuts, flowers, grasses, an aquatic plantations. Many porcupines even eat timber of the ornamental trees and destroy the trees. Some porcupines eat small lizards also with their strong jaws and teeth.

How does porcupine reproduce?

There are no specific timings for the porcupine to breed. When the porcupines are searching for a mate, they reproduce without injuring each other. The female porcupine takes the mating initiative.

The male porcupine and female porcupine battle. The male porcupine aims to impress the female by whining the victor and giving her signal to lower her quills and get ready to mate by moving her tail towards her side. The porcupine gestation period is about 112 days.

When is Porcupine Mating season?

However, Porcupines mate in late summer and early fall. It takes seven months to give birth to a baby.

When are Porcupine babies born?

They only have one baby per year.

What do you think the baby porcupines are also wild and harsh?

The baby porcupine is known as porcupettes, are born with no spines and blunt quills. They have very soft and sensitive skin. After birth for one week, they can open their eyes shortly and start moving after one week out of their home.

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They start growing their quills after few days. Then they stay with their mother for a few days. The new ones are born with soft quills, so they need complete motherly care and nurturing for a few days. For two to three weeks, they start eating solid food, but after six to eight weeks of age and they start to feed on veggies.

The porcupine leaves their parent and home after two months of birth, and search their own home, habitat and chase one another. They leave their home to look for a mate. The new ones are generally quite playful and get fully mature when they are at the age of one year.

How Long do Porcupine live?

The average lifespan of the porcupine is about seven years and sometimes, end up living up to 21 years. The porcupines are very protective of their living space. So, they Mark their territory once they find their home and protect their area.

How Porcupine Defend themselves?

Porcupines have quills specialised for their safety. Porcupines have a great sense of smell so that the porcupines can sense the enemies from a distance. Porcupines stamp their feet and use their sharp teeth and start fowling so to scare the enemy. However, if the enemy keeps scaring, they run back to attack them with their quills. The quills help them a lot to keep safe and attack in case of an attack.

They are vocal animals who can whine, grunt, and screech on the ground. They are in different size and live in small homes, but they live in groups which range up to 200 acres.  Porcupines love eating salt licks, so in search of salt licks, they enter the human houses. Moreover, sometimes, they feed on salt found on the road to thaw ice on the road leading to chaos.

Which Predators attack Porcupine?

The predators who attack the porcupines sharing one burrow are great horned owls, leopards, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and wolves.  Moreover, the most feared predator that feeds on porcupines are the fishers.

How Does porcupine attack?

The spines of the porcupines give them unique protection against the predators. The quills of the porcupine give pain if touched. The quills are not stuck in the porcupines’ skin so, it can shed anytime. However, it doesn’t harm the porcupine’s body.

Leopard vs Porcupine fight

When Porcupine need to attack their enemy, they shake their bodies so that their quills get dislodged to harm the threat. The primary step they use to attack the enemy is pressing their quills onto the enemy’s body and using the tail to surround them. This is how the porcupine attack on their enemy. The new world porcupines are very spontaneous, and they use their teeth to sound fierce when they see the enemy.

Are Porcupine poisonous?

No, Porcupines are not poisonous

Is the porcupine dangerous for humans?

The porcupines have sharp quills that are not venomous, but they can only make humans injured. The porcupine has a stout body and so heavy that it can’t run. So, humans can kill them, with a rock also. They are not able to run.

Is porcupine poisonous for the dog?

The thick spines of the porcupines are painful if any creature comes close to it. It has been seen, many animals such as dogs and foxes die due to injuries caused by quills of porcupines. Although, the porcupines’ quills are not poisonous but consult a veterinarian can cure them.

Quills have barbs that you can see them with a naked eye. These barbs are the main reason for pain which can cause infection in the skin if not treated properly. Porcupines’ quills do puncture the skin and can be dangerous.

They tend to move through muscle, ultimately penetrating body cavities and sometimes, even the internal organs. And you got to know the fact that these quills carry bacteria with them. So, once they penetrate the skin, they can easily serve as a source of infection and abscesses.

Can Porcupine kill a dog?

These barbs on the porcupines tend to move deeper and deeper if they are not treated, which means infection. It can cause the death of dogs as well. These barbs go inside the tissues and penetrate the infection inside. This can lead to a fatal infection.

Dog face with Quills
Source- InsideEditon Youtube channel

These porcupines quills cannot be removed without anesthesia as it will give too much pain without anesthesia which can be the real struggle and push the quills deeper.

Can you domesticate porcupine?

Porcupines have never been domesticated anywhere other than the zoo.  Porcupines require much care depending on their species. They don’t prove to be the right pet as they need many climbing opportunities for their growth.

The porcupine is a terrestrial animal, and it needs to explore for its living. They require vegetables and fruits to feed.

The feeding habits of the porcupines are delicate, so it is difficult to find a better place for them, which has led to its decline. The spines of the porcupine make it look like a pest, and humans think it as a pest. So, they kill it, and now the population of porcupines has decreased.

So, as we know, the porcupines do not prove to be a great pet. They do resemble hedgehogs, but with the habits and diet, it is not possible to make them a pet.


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