North American Porcupine


North American Porcupine
Erethizon dorsatum

Conservation Status: Least Concern
Range: Canada, northern and western USA, northern Mexico
Habitat: Primarily temperature forests, taiga, tundra, desert shrubland
Size: 2-3 feet in length; About 25 pounds
Diet in the Wild: Leaves, roots, berries, seeds, bark
Diet in the Zoo: Formulated grain, green, fruits, vegetables, browse
Lifespan: 5-6 years in the wild; 15+ years in human care

The North American porcupine is one of the largest rodents found in North America, coming second to the beaver. The porcupine is the prickliest of the rodents, though its Latin name means "quill pig". There are more than two dozen porcupine species, and all boast a coat of needle-like quills to give predators a sharp reminder that this animal is no easy meal. A porcupine uses its large two front teeth for gnawing off bites of food. The incisors continue to grow throughout the porcupine's life, and the constant gnawing keeps them worn down to the perfect size. 

Fun Facts!

  • Porcupines are covered in about 30,000 quills. They cannot throw or shoot their quills but come off easily when a predator encounters them since they are lightly attached!
  • Porcupines produce an antibiotic skin secretion, which reduces the risk of infection due to self-quilling as they are notoriously clumsy creatures!


Porcupine B