Last Reviewed and Updated on July 29, 2022
These animals are one of the largest rodents on the globe, and they are most known for their painful and effective defense mechanism. Read through these interesting facts about porcupines and learn a little bit more about this prickly animal.
1. The name porcupine means pig with spines
The word porcupine comes from the Latin word porcus meaning pig, and the Latin word spina, meaning spine.
The regional American name for this animal is also a quill-pig.
2. Porcupettes, baby porcupines, are born with quills
Baby porcupines are called porcupettes. While they are born with quills, the quills are soft and don’t hurt the mother when she gives live birth to the young. The spines harden within a few days and become the same as the spines of adult animals.
3. A porcupine holds the record for the longest-living rodent
These animals have relatively high longevity. As far as rodents go, porcupines live the longest, with one individual named Cooper being the holder of the record of the longest living rodent record as he lived for 32 years.
4. Porcupines can climb trees
They have strong legs and long claws, which make it possible for these animals to climb up and down the trees. They do spend most of their time on the ground but do regularly climb trees in search of food.
5. Porcupines fall from trees quite often
They are good climbers, but they commonly fall from trees. They like the tender leaf buds the most, and these are found at the end of branches. These branches usually can’t hold the weight of a porcupine, so they will fall from trees quite often. This is one of the facts about porcupines they can’t exactly be proud of.
6. Their quills have antibiotic properties
Quills are coated with fatty acids, which inhibit the growth of some bacteria. When porcupines fall from trees, there is a good chance they will hurt themselves with their spikes, so the antibiotic properties of their quills limit the infections that could develop as a result of self-injury.
7. North American porcupines have about 30.000 quills
Not only do they have an impressive number of quills, but their quills are also barbed.
8. The quills are detachable
Unlike the quills of a hedgehog, porcupine quills are detachable. It was once thought that porcupines throw their quills at their predators, but this isn’t the case. Their quills do protect them from predators. If a predator takes on a porcupine, even the slightest touch can cause the quills to stick into the predator and detach from the porcupine. A porcupine will raise its quills, often leaving the predator with a bunch of quills (painfully) stuck to them.
9. Before mating, a male will pee on the female
One of the weirdest facts about porcupines is their mating ritual. When a female is ready to mate, she attracts males with a specific scent she releases. Multiple males are attracted, and they first fight amongst each other, and the winner can proceed to mate with the female.
To induce fertility of the female, a male will squirt his urine, a couple of drops at a time, until she is ready for mating. This process can last for hours before the male and the female mate.
10. Crested porcupines can rattle their tail
Crested porcupines have special quills on their tails that are hollow and broadened at their ends. When the porcupine shakes its tail, the quills vibrate and produce a hiss-like rattle.