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      PORCUPINES

 
 
The Not-So Common Porcupine
(Erethizon Dorsatum)


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.

PORCUPINES

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!




PORCUPINE

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 with.

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.

PORCUPINE
If you ever see this, move away!

PORCUPINE

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!
 

Athabasca Falls     EDITH CAVELL VALLEY

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