Project Description

North American Porcupine

Erethizon dorsatum

Animal Class: Mammal

Length: 2-3 feet

Weight: 7.5-40 pounds

Lifespan: 15-18 years

Diet: Herbivore

Habitat: Forests, grasslands, and even tundra in Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico

Description: Dark brown or black with white highlights, porcupines are most recognizable for their quills. An adult may have 30,000 quills all over its stocky body. These quills are modified hairs that have modified into hollow, sharp, barbed spines. Although they’re normally pressed against the porcupine’s body, when threatened, the porcupine will often spin quickly and raise the quills as a defense, or swing its tail toward an attacker. The porcupine doesn’t “throw” the quills, but they dislodge easily and get stuck in the attacker’s skin. They’re painful and difficult to remove.

Porcupines give birth to a single pup that has soft quills. The quills harden soon after birth.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Our Animals: Humvee and Chevelle