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Hot on the Trail: Porcupine

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This big guy was spotted on the northern part of our property, by our eagle-eye site manager Ken Cudmore. To celebrate this finding,here are some cool quick facts about this species:

  • Porcupines are the third largest rodent in the world! First is the capybara and second place belongs to Canada's national animal, the beaver.
  • They are covered in long strands of brown hair that looks soft, but there are thousands of quills tucked inside. The longest quills are found on their back and behind, while the shortest ones are on their face.
  • Each quill is hollow – it is yellowish in colour, with a black tip and is covered in tiny barbs. Roughly 30,000 quills cover the whole body except for the stomach, nose and bottom of their feet.
  • When baby porcupines are born their quills are soft, but within an hour they harden.
  • Animals like bears, bobcats, lynx, wolves and coyotes have also been known to be big predators, but the biggest of them all is the fisher. Thought of as the “expert” in hunting porcupines, the fisher will flip its prey onto its back to avoid getting pricked by the sharp quills.
  • Porcupines are not dangerous to people when they are left alone. If threatened a porcupine will always try to run and climb a tree. If you allow a path of escape then they will leave you alone. If a porcupine feels trapped and cannot get away, the next line of defense they have is to chatter their teeth and lastly, to display their impressive 30,000 quills, making it look big and scary to the attacker.

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Want to know more about this species? Check out our other Hot on the Trail posting about porcupines!

-Ranger Rachel


 

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