Each quill is hollow – it is yellowish in colour, with a black tip and is covered in tiny barbs. By Liz Langley, for National Geographic. Although porcupines do not hibernate during the winter, they remain in their dens during especially cold or inclement weather. They include the large crested porcupines, some of which can grow more than 2 … They have sensitive ears and noses to help them navigate and find food in the dark. Porcupines are primarily creatures of the night that rest in hollow logs, trees, and crevices during the day, and later come out to enjoy feasts of tree bark, grass, twigs, stems, berries, and the like. Each quill has a topical antibiotic, so a porcupine attack will not necessarily lead to an infection. They are herbivores, eating plants, twigs, leaves, and bark. Quills have sharp tips and overlapping scales or barbs that make them difficult to remove once they are stuck in another animal's skin. Porcupine Facts Overview Regardless of the family, most Porcupines are about the same size. Their tails can be another 8 to 10 inches long. They have a large, round body and move slowly. They prefer wooded habitats and are apt at climbing trees. The origin of "porcupine" can be traced back to Old English and French words. Many people don’t know much else about them though. Porcupines are arboreal, built for climbing trees. A typical mating ritual consists of two males fighting over a single female. A leopard gets itself into a prickly situation when it tries to hunt down a porcupine. New World porcupines spend their time in the trees, while Old World porcupines stay on the ground. Porcupines are not territorial animals, however, their home range can be as large as 200 acres. 1. Those on the back may be 40cm long; the shorter, open-ended tail quills will rattle as a warning. The males are careful not to injure themselves during the fight, and the winner territorially urinates on the female so that she knows to move her tail aside for safe, quill-free mating. Facts about Porcupines. Porcupines are herbivores, eating leaves, plants, fruit, and the tender layer of tissue beneath the bark of trees. A single young is born after a gestation of 210 days. Its long strands of brown hair looks soft, but thousands of quills are tucked inside. Porcupines have a gestation period of 112 days which is very long for a rodent. One documented example lived to the ripe old age of 27 years. 2. Some even have prehensile (gripping) tails to aid in climbing. Porcupines have natural antibiotics in their skin and are the only mammals native to North America to have such protection. Porcupines are usually dark brown or black in color, with white highlights. All porcupines (and the Cape porcupine is no exception) have banded quills which are essentially their hairs. A typical porcupine has soft hair mixed with quills, which grow from its back, sides, and tail. They have a stocky body, a small face, short legs, and a short, thick tail.This species is the largest of the New World porcupines and is one of the largest North American rodents, second only to the American beaver in size. Each species is different, yet all have a few similar qualities. The word porcupine is a derivative of the Middle French word porc d’espine, meaning “thorny pig.” Middle English variants include "porcupyne" and "porcapyne. Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world and are followed by the beaver. – Source. When in danger, porcupines produce a rattling noise, by wagging their tail, to defend themselves and raise their sharp, long quills also. They are very vocal animals and make shrill screeches, whines and low grunts. This means that no matter the temperature of the environment that the porcupine is in, their internal temperature will always be the same. Both types of porcupines are typically solitary, though New World porcupines may pair up. All quills are hairs coated in … We identify a porcupine in a reader's photo and separate prickly fact from fiction. Porcupines easily cut through even steel wire. Porcupines have the longest gestation period among all rodents. The porcupine is a large, round, slow-moving rodent with a spectacular means of defense. Porcupines can adapt to most habitats including dense wet forests and the most barren of deserts. Porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) are the third largest members of the rodent family that are covered with spines or quills. These quills typically lie flat until a porcupine is threatened, then leap to attention as a persuasive deterrent. 2. During the night, they forage for food. They have even been found on Mt. Kilimanjaro, as high up as 11,480 feet. They have poor eyesight, but a great sense of smell. Get to the Point: 5 Fast Facts About Porcupines. 3 Minute Read. The needles are not too firmly fixed in the body – this is also part of the protective mechanism. Most young porcupines are ready to live on their own at about two months of age. We identify a porcupine in a reader's photo and separate prickly fact from fiction. Fun Facts About Porcupine. The New World porcupines live in North and South America. 5 Fascinating Facts #1. They are well known for their dangerous quills that they can come out easily upon contact with the unknown visitor. Old World porcupines of the family Hystricidae have brown to black fur with white-banded quills and are terrestrial. A mother and her young is considered a family group called a prickle. In North America, they are the second largest. Porcupines might be considered a prickly bunch, but they're pretty cute once you learn more about them. Porcupines grow new quills to replace the ones they lose. #2. One of the few known facts about porcupines is that they turn on their back and make a 'reverse-charge', in order to drive their needle-like quills into their enemy's flesh. Porcupines have become a pest in Kenya and are eaten as a delicacy. 1. Each species is different, yet all have a few similar qualities. Porcupine Quills are dangerous to dogs because once they make contact with the skin, the quills can migrate further in and cause internal damage. 4. There are, in total, 27 species of porcupine belonging to the families, Erethizontidae or Hystricidae. According to San Diego Zoo, porcupines normally weigh between 2.5 and 77 pounds (1.2 and 35 kilograms), depending on species. The largest porcupine, the North African crested porcupine, grows up to 36 inches (90 centimetres). Fond of salt, they may approach areas inhabited by humans for this mineral. Depending on species porcupines weigh 2.5 to 77 lbs. Quick Facts About Porcupines, Quills, and Pets. 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