The Not-So Common Porcupine
How do Porcupines breed? Gingerly.
Can they climb trees?
What kind of hair do they have?
What vitamin pills do they eat?
These are all good questions as porcupines are largely misunderstood,
not commonly seen and shy of humans and other large animals.
These are one of nature's most unusual creations.
Porcupines are part of the rodent
family. Imagine a fat little pet with tiny spikes that likes to
eat salad and insists on being left alone. They are strictly vegetarian
and like to consume human crops, willow and other young branches.
They will occasionally chew on bark, or bones and antlers they
find to supplement calcium intake (strange form of vitamin pill,
eh?). They can climb trees but are slow and cautious climbers.
Because of the energy and time they expend to climb a tree (in
search of food) they may spend days in a single tree. They avoid
humans, which combined with the fact they are nocturnal makes
them seldom seen or heard.
They live in caves, burrows,
rock piles, overhangs, treetops
and even abandoned buildings.
Never pet a porcupine!
|The single greatest threat to "porky" is the automobile. Far more porcupines
are seen on highways than in the wild. Some have called
them Alberta speed bumps!
Barbs on Hair
A porcupine's quills are actually hairs with
a hard coating with shingle-like barbs that overlap at the tips.
Quills cannot be thrown or fired or ejected by porcupines. However
the little creature will lower its head and lash out with its
tail. The quills easily detach and puncture the skin of the
very unlucky recipient. Heat from the victim's own body makes
the quills expand, increasing the pain and the longevity. The
porcupine is not injured as such, as the victim carries away
only a few of the 30,000 quills that "porky" is armed
Porcupines are predominantly black,
tinged with yellow and they have a muscular tail which can implant
many quills in those who get too close. Claws are sharp and
curved and the soles of their feet are like a cats tongue, having
small rough bumps.
If you ever see this, move away!
Baby porcupines are called...?
If you guessed Porcupettes then you are good! They usually have only one
offspring in May or June. The offspring are actually born with
quills but the quills are soft until about an hour after birth.
Lucky for the mother!