In Chapter 7, Bodger decides to eat a porcupine. The porcupine has other ideas. He hits Bodger in the nose. The quills imbed themselves. Most animals remove porcupine quills with their teeth. How can Bodger do this when they are imbedded in his nose? Read The Incredible Journey to learn how Bodger loses these quills. Before doing so read about porcupines and complete the activity below.
There are 22 species of porcupines. All of these species have quills. A quill is a bunch of hair that has grown together. The porcupine has approximately 30,000 quills. These quills cover the sides and back of the porcupine. There are barbed like fishhooks on the ends of the quills.
The American porcupine is the most common. They are 2 ½ feet long and weigh between 15 to 20 pounds. They have small heads, short legs, and a rounded shape. Their coat is dark brown to light black.
Porcupines live all over the world. The American porcupine lives in the grasslands and forests of Canada, throughout the United States and in northern Mexico.
Porcupines sleep during the day in their dens. These are in a variety of places including hollow logs, caves, trees, and old buildings. Porcupines are solitary animals and travel alone.
Porcupines eat seeds, fruit, leaves, grasses, dandelions, twigs and aquatic plants in the summer. A porcupine can climb trees that are 60 to 70 feet high to reach the young leaves. During the winter they eat twigs, leaves, bark, and pine needles. Porcupines like maple, birch, beech, oak, cherry, willow, pine and fir. They crave salt and will eat the handles of tools that has been seasoned with human sweat.
Porcupines are slow moving. They are peaceful animals and will not attack unless an animal approaches them. The porcupine will defend itself by raising its quills on its back and sides. They sling their six-inch long tails which are also covered with quills. The quills are not poisonous, but will cause an infection if they are not removed. Humans can remove them with pliers. Animals will use their teeth. Once the quills imbed themselves in an animal, the heat of that animal will drive the quills deeper into the flesh.
The main enemies of the porcupine are the fisher, great horned owl, coyote, and wolf.