Porcupines: Straight to the Point
They’ve been called pin-cushions, spiny backs and many other things, but an encounter with a porcupine that is having a bad day could leave you pining for help. Contrary to common myths, porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) are not ferocious, quill-shooting critters. If cornered and threatened, however, a sharp message will be delivered to leave it alone. The quills of a porcupine are modified hairs. Porkies are born with soft quills, but as they get older, the quills become hard and sharp. They cannot shoot their quills at an attacker, but because the quills are so loosely attached to the rodent’s body, they release freely when touched by a predator’s nose or paw. And with 30,000 quills on the average adult porcupine, the chances of getting a nose-full are high. Porkies can be found in eastern and western Canada as well as the northeastern and western U.S. and Alaska.