Porcupines are large quilled animals. Quills are hardened, barbed hairs. Most porcupines can have as many as 30,000 quills. Porcupines have over 100 quills per square inch. They don't actually shoot their quills out . A porcupine will stick up its quills when threatened. They swing their tails to jab their quills into an unsuspecting animal. If the quills are in an animal they can go an inch a day. Once the quills are in the animal, if the animal moves its muscle the quill works deeper and deeper into the animal and eventually kills it. There is a porcupine called a hystrix cristata that is different because of its white crested quills.
Size, Weight, etc.:
A porcupine can grow to be 40 inches long and 40 pounds. Baby porcupines are called porcupettes. Porcupines weigh the most out of all the short legged rodents that are normally nocturnal, solitary, and herbivorous.
Porcupines eat bark, buds, twigs, and leaves. Porcupines like to eat the tender layers of the tree under the bark. Every now and then they will take so much bark off that they kill the tree.
New World Porcupines And Old World Porcupines:
New world porcupines live in the trees for a while and old world porcupines stick to the ground. The most common of the new world porcupines is the forest living North American porcupine. The new world porcupines are a part of the erethizontidae family and the old world porcupines are hysricidae.
Warnings And Kinds Of Porcupines:
If a porcupine is threatened it will grunt, stamp, erect and rattle its quills as a warning. Some porcupines if cornered will run backward and try to use their strong tail to drive it in. Some species of porcupines are: prehensile tail porcupine, upper Amazon porcupine, thin tailed porcupine, thin spine porcupine, and North American porcupine. Crested porcupines have hollow quills on their tail that sound kind of like a hiss.
If an animal any size gets quills in them and they don't get help soon they have a high chance of dying. Once quills have been used they will be replaced and they will grow to full length in 4 to 6 months. The quills' barb tipped ends have little scales. Once the quill is in the animal, it spreads out making it even harder to remove. Porcupines have poor vision, good ears and nose. Porcupines can see motion okay but other than that they really can't see. Fishers are weasels and they are about the same size as a big house cat. They are fast and smart so they are probably the porcupine's biggest wild enemy. If forest rangers think porcupines are killing too many trees they will release some fishers in that area.
Porcupines' guard hairs can be brown, black or yellowish. They have very thick fur under the guard hairs. In the summer their fur is shinier and much lighter than in the winter.
Porcupines have been thought to be very slow, stupid, and clumsy but they are really very smart. One porcupine was known for using thin branches as elevators. Heights don't come even close to scaring them. They have been sited over 60 feet in the air! Porcupines might not be the fastest rodents but they are agile for their size, weight, and bulk. If a porcupine is about to fall it can hold its entire weight with one claw. Imagine holding yourself up-side-down sixty feet in the air by one toe or one finger! Porcupines don't fall often because they don't move unless they have a strong grip.
The red areas on the map show where porcupines live.