Common Name: porcupine

Type: Mammal

Family: Erethizontidae

Range: The common porcupine can be found in most 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. The tree porcupine, also known as the Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine, is rodent found exclusively in the Americas, especially around the places, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama. They can be found in several National Parks of Costa Rica.

Size: A porcupine can reach to a length from 25 – 36 in (60 – 90 cm); Tail, 8 – 10 in (20-25 cm) from head to body.
Weight: It is weighing 5 to 16 kilogram (12 – 35 lbs).

Diet: They are herbivore and normally have diet of leafs, branches and green plants like clover and skunk cabbage. North American porcupines use their big front teeth to satisfy a healthy appetite for wood. In winter, they might eat bark. North American porcupines also eat leaves, fruit, and springtime buds. They can climb to the trees to find food. They are mostly nocturnal, but have sometime forage for food during the day.

Average life span: The average life span of porcupines ranges 5-7 in wild.

Habitat: The common porcupine lives in coniferous, deciduous and mixed forests. In the west, it can be found in scrubby areas. It can be found in tropical forest of Costa Rica and the national parks of the country.

Breeding/Reproduction: Porcupines mate during late summer and in early fall. They are very choral during the mating season. Males make fight over females. The male carry out a complicated dance and sprays urine over the head of the female. Their gestation period is seven months after mating. The female gives birth to a single baby. When the baby is born, its quills are soft. They harden about an hour after birth. The baby is begins to hunt for food after only few days. Usually, the baby stays with its mother for nearly six months.

The porcupine is a rodent. It has black to brownish-yellow fur, and is very strong, short legs. Its soles are hairless that assist them to climb trees. It has a round body, tiny ears and a undersized head. The most identifiable feature of the porcupine is its quills. A porcupine might have up to 30,000 quills. The quills are hairs with pointed tips on the ends. Quills are rock-hard at the tip and base and empty for most of the shaft. The porcupines have quills on all parts of its body, but not on its stomach. The highest quills are on the rump. The shortest quills are on the cheeks.

Porcupine uses its quills for defense purpose. When a predator approaches, the porcupine will turn its back, raise the quills and lash out at the threat with its tail. If the porcupine hits an animal with its quills, the quills become entrenched in the animal. Due to body heat the barbs becomes enlarged and they turn out to be even more deeply entrenched in the animal’s skin. If an animal is knock in a vital place it might die. It is not an aggressive animal. The porcupine will only attack if it is in danger. Some animals, like the fisher, are experts at attacking to the porcupines.

The common porcupine is a good swimmer, its hollow quills help keep it afloat. It is also an excellent tree-climber and spends much of its time in trees. It is a very vocal animal and has a wide-variety of calls including moans, coughs, grunts, wails, shrieks, whines, and tooth clicking.

The tree porcupine, also known as the Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine, is rodent found exclusively in the Americas, especially around the places, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama. This species is listed under “least concern” on the list of endangered species, thanks to its large and abundant population. The Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine usually ranges between 55-85 cm in length and is roughly 1.5-2.5 kilos in weight. The tail on this rodent extends to almost one third of its body length. They are usually black in color, except the head, which has yellow colored spines. They also have fuzzy markings around their ears and a tail which has no fur.

The tree porcupine is nocturnal and will rarely be seen in the day. They mostly live above ground but some have been observed to prefer living underground. The males are aggressive and will not tolerate other male porcupines in their territory. However, female porcupines are always welcome. At night these spiky little creatures will venture out for food, usually eating any seeds, buds and fruits they find. In the absence of these, they will settle for different kinds of leaves, however, this is not their preferred diet. The tree porcupine loves salt. They will go to any lengths to find salt, they have often been found sneaking into cabinets for salty chips, chewing salty objects like the under-wires of cars, and generally get into trouble. It is common for communities with porcupines in the vicinity to create artificial salt licks away from humans to keep the porcupines out of trouble.

It is commonly misconceived that porcupines are able to shoot their quills. The fact is, one has to brush up against a porcupine for the quill the stick. These quills are very sharp and have microscopic barbs pointing outwards, making the removal of these quills extremely painful. Hence it is important to steer clear of porcupine quills.

Comments are closed.