Tag Archives: porcupine


28 Aug

Not exactly pretty, but kind of exotic..


The common porcupine can be found in most of Canada, the western United States and as far south as Mexico. It makes its den in caves, decaying logs and hollow trees. The porcupine doesn’t hibernate, but it may stay in its den during bad weather. Some things I didn’t realize are that the porcupine is a good swimmer, its hollow quills help keep it afloat. It is also an excellent tree-climber and spends much of its time in trees.  Have you ever seen one sitting in a tree?  I haven’t. 
We know that we have quite a population of them at the cottage from the clues they leave behind … Was it Spruce who managed to get a snout-ful?    Here’s a picture of our more recent porcupine damage – they had a little chew-fest on the small dock last winter.
The small dock this spring – porcupine food

Most porcupine damage occurs during the winter when woody plants become a staple diet. Extensive gnawing of branches, twigs and bark is evidence of porcupine attack. Susceptible trees include pine, spruce, poplar, elm, fruit-bearing trees and numerous shrub species. Girdling of the tree bark, if severe, will kill the plant. In summer, porcupines will eat fruits, vegetables and succulent plants. Occasionally, porcupines find buildings, open air sheds and other wooden structures including boat houses and piers where they can seriously damage beams and other support structures with their gnawing.   


Porcupines have soft hair, but on their back, sides, and tail it is usually mixed with sharp quills. These quills typically lie flat until a porcupine is threatened, then leap to attention as a persuasive deterrent. Porcupines cannot shoot them at predators as once thought, but the quills do detach easily when touched. 

Want to look for evidence of porcupines? (besides chewed-up docks)  Here are porky’s tracks and trail pattern.