North American Porcupine


North American Porcupine

North American Porcupine

The North American Porcupine has dark fur with light colored quills. National Park Service
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What does a North American Porcupine look like?

The North American Porcupine is a large rodent. It is actually North America’s second largest rodent (the beaver is the first). They have stout bodies and short legs. Porcupines have dark brown or black fur and long sharp quills. The quills are lighter in color. Since the porcupine is nocturnal, the lighter quills alert night time predators of danger.

Where does the North American Porcupine live?

The North American Porcupine has a very large range. They can survive in a variety of climates and elevations. Primarily they live in coniferous and mixed forested areas in Canada, Alaska, and much of the northern and western United States. There is a small population in the eastern United States. They can also be found in shrublands, tundra, and deserts as far south as northern Mexico. The North American Porcupine likes to make its den in a hole in a tree or in a rocky area.

What does the North American Porcupine eat?

Since porcupines live in so many different parts of North America, their diet depends on where they are living. They are herbivores. During the summer and spring they tend to eat less, as more protein rich foods are available. They eat things like stems, twigs, berries, roots, and other vegetation. They tend to eat more in the fall, in preparation for winter. In the winter, they eat conifer needles and bark.

Interesting facts about the North American Porcupine:

Each porcupine has about 30,000 quills. Did you know that the porcupine’s quills have microscopic barbs on the ends?

Porcupines are arboreal. This means that their bodies are very well adapted to climbing trees. However, the environment that they live in determines how much time they spend up in the trees. If there is a lot of ground cover, they might prefer to forage for food on the ground.

Additional Images:

North American Porcupine

Porcupines are nocturnal National Park Service
Image Source

Additional Links:


References are the same as the above links.  









2 thoughts on “North American Porcupine”

  1. Elizabeth. Z. Turner

    Ive been trying to identify the animal I saw one night by a dim porch bulb in March 2017. It was eating birdseed on the deck that had been scattered by a raccoon. The raccoon visits often and destroys all the bird feeders, then drinks the hummingbird nectar. When I opened the door to shoo the raccoon, I was astounded to see the medium sized brownish gold animal with it’s “tail” flipped over it’s head. It ran under the deck furniture and then waddled quickly to the far end of the deck, jumped off, and disappeared into the woods. We are in the lower south end of the Ouachita mountains in Hot Springs Village AR 71909. The map we found showed the porcupine’s area stopping just west of us. I contacted the Rangers here and they said they had no idea what it was ! After viewing you great pictures, I’m SURE I saw a porcupine. Thank you !!
    My cell is 501-209-6256

  2. I found a porcupine quill just outside of Chattanooga TN, but everything I’m seeing online says they don’t live anywhere near here. It was on a hiking trail. Is it possible there are a few?

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