View Full Version : Thursday Trivia: Porcupines

Star lover
April 5th, 2018, 06:56 AM
Porcupines are excellent tree climbers.


With their waddling gait, they might not look agile, but they can shinny up a tree trunk, strip it of its bark and continue on to the upper branches where they will feed on leaves or evergreen needles.

Often, porcupines will nest in trees to be close to their food source and safe from predators, but their chubby bodies pose a functional dilemma: Not only do porcupines live in trees, also they tend to fall out of them.

Some other interesting facts about porcupines......

- The origin of "porcupine" can be traced back to Old English and French words.
The word porcupine is a derivative of the Middle French word porc d’espine, meaning “thorny pig.” Middle English variants include "porcupyne" and "porcapyne."

- Porcupines are the third largest rodents in the world, and the second largest in North America. That's right behind the second-place beaver, and the first-place capybara.

- Porcupines cannot throw their quills, as was previously thought. When a porcupine feels threatened, it tenses up and attacks predators with the swat of its tail, embedding quills into their skin. Only on occasion will loose quills fall out before it strikes, creating the illusion that they're being shot out.

- A porcupine has approximately 30,000 quills on its body. A typical porcupine has soft hair mixed with quills, which grow from its back, sides, and tail.

- There are two different types of porcupines. Old World porcupines live in Southern Europe, Asia, and Africa. New World porcupines are indigenous to North America and Northern South America.

- Old World porcupines may not be good climbers, but they are excellent swimmers. New World porcupines, on the other hand, are capable of clinging to trees with their tails and catching surrounding branches if they fall.

- They are nocturnal herbivores. Porcupines are primarily creatures of the night that rest in hollow logs, trees, and crevices during the day, and later come out to enjoy feasts of tree bark, grass, twigs, stems, berries, and the like.

- Their quills are pre-medicated. Each quill has a topical antibiotic, so a porcupine attack will not necessarily lead to an infection. This is, however, a defense mechanism to prevent accidental self-quilling.


- Baby porcupines have soft quills at birth, which harden within a few days. When they grow accustomed to fending for themselves, baby porcupines leave their mothers—approximately 6 months after they're born.


- Porcupine quills have overlapping barbs at the tips, making them hard to remove. Each quill boasts between 700 and 800 barbs along its tip.

- The porcupine mating ritual involves a vicious battle—and urination on the female. A typical mating ritual consists of two males fighting over a single female. The males are careful not to injure themselves during the fight, and the winner territorially urinates on the female so that she knows to move her tail aside for safe, quill-free mating.

April 5th, 2018, 07:27 AM
Wellsir, learned something already today - didn't know that porcupines could climb trees and realized that I am so very happy that I am not a female porcepine. Although I have been in the process of changing diapers and received an innocent golden shower, the though of a male just urinating on me would make me send off sparks or quills. yuck!

April 5th, 2018, 09:37 AM
Thank you Anita. I didn't know they climbed trees either.

April 5th, 2018, 10:29 AM
so now I'm off to google where in north America they live and do we have any here and what is a capybara

April 5th, 2018, 10:40 AM
so now I'm off to google where in north America they live and do we have any here and what is a capybara.
Ok, the capybara is in south America so no worries and the porcupine is mostly out in the western US and the North east...Mass. and PA seem to have the most and then south from SC south apparently.

April 5th, 2018, 01:42 PM
I'm with Blondie, I wouldn't want to be a female porcupine.

April 5th, 2018, 02:42 PM
Well, that was very interesting. The baby was cute.