Ed Golson Outdoor Education


Scientific Name: Etrehizon dorsatum

Description: Porcupines are the second largest rodent in North America; only beavers are larger. Porcupines can grow between 24 and 36 inches long and weigh between 10 to 30 pounds. Males are larger than females. They are well known for their many protective quills located all over their body. Each porcupine is covered by about 30,000 hollow quills . The quills have a tiny barb on the end that makes them stick in deeper and harder to remove from  unlucky predators .

Porcupines are slow moving animals. They don't have to worry about being caught by predators very often though, so it doesn't really matter. They also have long claws that they use to climb trees. Porcupines usually live around 6 years, but can live as long as 18 years.

Habitat: Porcupines are found throughout most of North America- from Alaska down into northern Mexico. Porcupines live in a number of different habitats , but they prefer to live in deciduous forests. In areas where there is not much ground cover, porcupines will spend most of their time in trees instead of on the ground.

Feeding: Porcupines eat plant material such as leaves, roots, fruits, seeds, and nuts. During the winter when there is less food around they will also eat the bark off of tree. They also have an annoying habit of chewing on anything that is covered with salt- such as the salt used to melt the ice on roads during the winter. Porcupines are often found chewing on fence posts, houses, and even car tires.

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