The quills are modified hairs which have microscopic overlapping sheaths on the tips (functioning like barbs) are filled with a spongy matrix. It weighs from 10 to 40 pounds. Because quills are so lightly attached, they come off easily when a predator encounters them. They usually appear dark brown to black, although some of the hairs and spines on the backs of these animals are yellow. Due to being hollow, quills of this animal were used to keep gold dust. They inhabit most of Alaska and Canada, the northern part of the Great Lakes region as well as the west and northeast regions of the United States. The body of porcupine produces keratin - a material, from which its quills are made. This slow-moving porcupine is the second North American rodent in size only to beaver. [12] They are subdivided by different ranges across North America. As of 1994, it was listed as an endangered species in Mexico. The defense strategy is based on aposematism in several modalities. These animals were named 'quilled pigs' by Americans, but they actually rodents, which aren't related to pigs. They continue to nurse for up to four months, which coincides with the fall mating season. [28][29], The North American porcupine is most at risk from the fisher (Martes pennanti). The porcupine's last line of defense is to climb a tree. Female porcupines are solitary for most of the year except during the fall when breeding season begins. Possible aliases, alternative names and misspellings for Erethizon dorsatum. Other predators, such as canids, may attack but do not pose much of a threat. It has a round body, small ears and a small head. E. d. couesi is the most southern ranging from northern Mexico to Colorado. epixanthum, E. d. nigrescens, and E. d. Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub, 1. [25][27] In some parts of the Great Basin, cougars have greatly decreased numbers of porcupines in mountainous forests through predation. If the olfactory, visual, and auditory warnings fail, then it can rely on its quills. It has black to brownish-yellow fur and strong, short legs. [44], Globally, the North American porcupine is listed as a species of least concern. The odor is generated by a patch of skin called the rosette, on the lower back where modified quills serve as osmetrichia to broadcast the smell. The strong, curved claws, rough foot pads and quills located on the underside of the tail aid the porcupine to be a skilled and agile climber. Porcupines are covered in about 30,000 quills. Those antibiotics prevent infection when a porcupine falls out of a tree and is stuck with its own quills upon hitting the ground. When porcupines are mating, they tighten their skin and hold their quills flat, so as not to injure each other. It can climb trees, so its favorite method is to position itself below the porcupine and knock it to the ground, where it is quickly dispatched. Porcupines are edible and were an important source of food, especially in winter, to the native peoples of Canada's boreal forests. Porcupines have strong, short legs and their feet have hairless soles to help it climb trees. They are mainly active at night (nocturnal); on summer days, they often rest in trees. It has a small head, a large, chunky body with a high arching back and short legs. [48], Tracks in sand (human handprint shown for scale). During the rest of the year, they feed upon green vegetation such as leaves, twigs and fruits, supplementing their diet by gnawing on occasional bones and antlers that are rich with mineral nutrition. 22830 Sunrise Rd NE, Stacy, MN 55079 - 651.464.3993. Once thrust into another animal's skin, these spines may become fatal. Hystrix dorsata Linnaeus, 1758, The North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), also known as the Canadian porcupine, is a large rodent in the New World porcupine family. The male porcupine will often shower the female with urine before mating. Range: The North American Porcupine is found throughout North America, from Mexico north to Canada. They in­habit much of North Amer­ica be­tween the Arc­tic Ocean and north­ern Mex­ico. As it circles the porcupine, every chance it gets, it bites the face. North American Porcupines are the second largest rodent in North America, out-sized by beavers. It has hairless soles on its feet that help it climb trees. [24][34] However, in some cases porcupine quills have indeed killed cougars, although usually this is after the cougar has already consumed the porcupine.[35][36]. In addition, North American porcupines suffer from collisions with automobiles. The North American porcupine has a long gestation period relative to other rodents. They are threatened by hunting and habitat loss. They are stocky with an arched back and short legs. This is the classification of the North American porcupine, according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS):Kingdom: Animalia Subkingdom: Bilateria Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Infraphylum: Gnathostomata Superclass: Tetrapoda Class: Mammalia Subclass… [38] The eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) has a gestation period of just 44 days. The North American porcupine is a rodent with black to brownish-yellow fur and quills all over its round body, except for its stomach. The North American Porcupine is the second largest of all rodents. Some individuals have been found to live up to 30 years of age. The latter tries to get pregnant by the 'best' male. Competing males communicate through vocalizations. Since porcupines love salty flavor, they can consume axe handles, canoe paddles, outhouses and even automobile radiator hoses. Weighing up to 40 pounds it’s hard to imagine that this strict vegetarian can climb onto small branches to feed on the new bark. So, when passing through an area, it usually leaves some trees with stripped bark on its way, which helps detect the location of this animal. Scientific Name: Erethizon dorsatum. North American porcupines are native to the coniferous and mixed-forest habitats of Canada, the northeastern and western regions of the United States and northern Mexico. The porcupine is a caviomorph rodent whose ancestors crossed the Atlantic from Africa to Brazil 30 million years ago, and then migrated to North America during the Great American Interchange after the Isthmus of Panama rose 3 million years ago. (2017). Porcupines fall out of trees fairly often because they are highly tempted by the succulent buds and twigs at the ends of the branches. In the west they range from Alaska to northern mountains in Mexico. Population in Mexico is on the verge of extinction as a result of excessive hunting. E. d. bruneri can be found in the midwest from Arkansas to Montana. A porcupine can sometimes defend itself by facing the trunk on a branch and presenting its tail to the fisher. When approached, the porcupine can swing its tail at an attacker's face. They are very tolerant of the colder North American temperatures compared to porcupines of Central and South America. Similar Images . Description: Long, barbed quills make the North American porcupine one of Oklahoma’s most distinctive – and prickly – rodents. [10], The earliest appearance of E. dorsatum is from the Pleistocene era found along the Arroyo del Cedazo near Aguascalientes, Mexico. North American porcupines live in a wide variety of habitats such as dense forests, tundra, grasslands and desert shrub communities. Quills are hairs with solid, barbed tips and hollow shafts, and a porcupine has an estimated 30,000. Thus, threatened porcupines turn away predators, using a chemical odor, which they give out by chattering their teeth. [7] The porcupine's scientific name, Erethizon dorsatum, can be loosely translated as "the animal with the irritating back". North American porcupines don't tend to display social behavior and are mainly found solitarily, although they do have a social structure. The animal has short legs and heavy built. Independence is reached at 5 months old, while the age of sexual maturity is 29 months old for males and 25 months old for females. North American Porcupine Wikipedia article -, 2. Besides forests, porcupines can also be found in grasslands, desert shrub communities and even tundra. This slow-moving porcupine is the second North American rodent in size only to beaver. 1915 Scott Street Lafayette, IN 47904 Phone: 765-807-1540 Email; FAQs. North American Porcupine Erethizon dorsatum. A single young is born after a gestation of 210 days. The porcupine is North America’s second largest rodent; only the beaver is bigger. Elbroch, L. M., Feltner, J., & Quigley, H. B. The winter diet of these herbivorous animals mainly consists of tree bark. It does not bother with quill avoidance, but tolerates them. Similar Images . Its head and body are 25 to 40 inches long, with a long, thick, muscular tail growing as long as 8 inches. The resulting odor attracts males in the vicinity. The North American Porcupine is a well-known New World rodent. The North American porcupine is also called the Canadian porcupine or the common porcupine. [14][15], The porcupine is the only native North American mammal with antibiotics in its skin. The North American Porcupine is a well-known New World rodent. North American Porcupines are large, solitary rodents common in New England, but less common and rarely seen in Connecticut. Several Native American names exist, such as the Lakota name pahin meaning quill[8] and the Chipewyan name ts'l.[9]. When falling from a tree, this animal often gets stuck to a branch or something else on its way to the ground. The animal has short legs and heavy built. Adult porcupines wei… Here's the truth: the quills are made of keratin like your hair and fingernails. Sweitzer, R. A., Jenkins, S. H., & Berger, J. They have a similar reputation among forestry workers of all types for trying to eat their sweat-soaked (and thus salty) gloves and the similarly sweat-covered wood handles on tools. Porcupines are infamous among backpackers and backpacking publications[42][43] for their love of salt. [45] It is common throughout its range except in some U.S. states in the southeast part of its range. Quills of these animals possess a topical antibiotic, which help prevent infection. They live in riparian forests, mesquite scrubland, grasslands, and thorn forests. Males that approach a female do not automatically begin mating. The quills are used by Native Americans to decorate articles such as baskets and clothing. North American Porcupine. Adult porcupines are about 30 inches in length, including a 6- to 10-inch tail. South American hystricomorphs first appeared in the Lower Oligocene period. Enlarge Image . The last three are found in the west. The North American Porcupine is best known for and made distinguishable by its spiny quills that cover its body. Males are larger than females. In addition, the range of this species is the northernmost of all porcupines. The North American porcupine has a strong odor to warn away predators, which it can increase when agitated. After about a 7-month gestation, a single offspring (a … Quills are loosely attached, and despite popular myth cannot be “shot” at predators. They cannot throw or shoot their quills. [16], The North American porcupine has specific behaviors to warn or defend against predators. They are also killed by motor vehicles.[41]. The porcupine is a caviomorph rodent whose ancestors crossed the Atlantic from Africa to Brazil 30 million years ago,[3][4] and then migrated to North America during the Great American Interchange after the Isthmus of Panama rose 3 million years ago. Males are larger than females. She is currently reading the North American Porcupine (2d edition), so I bought it for myself. It appears that female fishers usually favor prey such as snowshoe hares. This large nocturnal rodent has also developed a unique hairstyle in the name of personal protection. They move slowly (having few threats in its natural environment which would give it the need to flee quickly) and are often hit by vehicles while crossing roads. Their quills harden soon after birth. In the west this hair can be yellowish. North American Porcupine. The beaver is the only rodent in North America that is larger than the North American porcupine. The North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is universally recognizable, yet has a complex biology that continues to fascinate. First, they are agile tree climbers. The word 'porcupine' originates from 'porc espin', meaning ‘spined pig’ in Middle French. Other hystricomorphs also migrated, but Erethizon was the only one to survive north of Mexico. After this, they learn to climb trees and start to forage. North American Porcupines are the second largest rodents in the United States, tipping the scales at 20 pounds. A common myth is that porcupines can "shoot" their quills at a predator; but they can't. They communicate with conspecifics through a system of acoustic, chemical, visual and tactile signals. A single animal may have 30,000 or more quills. Names . Fishers have two advantages that make them capable hunters of the porcupine. Porcupines have a stout, slow, lumbering form and a spiny coat. In the winter, they mainly eat conifer needles and tree bark. North Amer­i­can por­cu­pines, Erethi­zon dor­sa­tum, have the north­ern most range of all por­cu­pines. The front half of the body exhibits long, yellowish guard hairs. Having the northernmost range of all porcupines, these rodents occur throughout much of North America, from the Arctic Ocean to northern Mexico. The beaver is the only rodent in North America that is larger than the North American porcupine. [46][47] As of 1999, 15 remnant populations remain scattered throughout north-central Mexico. They are used primarily for defense, but also serve to insulate their bodies during winter. Individuals range in length from 24 to 36 inches, and weigh between 10 and 30 lbs. Quills are modified hairs formed into sharp, barbed, hollow spines. During the winter months, up to 8 individuals may live in the same den. Meanwhile, males of this species are more territorial, fiercely defending their home range. [1], During the summer, they eat twigs, roots, stems, berries, and other vegetation. My daughter is a brilliant thinker, writer, scholar, and wit. These nocturnal animals rarely go beyond their territories, except when looking for salt of apples. Porcupines can also die from falling out of a tree. Habitat: These animals are typically found in hardwood, softwood, coniferous and deciduous forests. The fisher will then consume the porcupine through the chest and abdomen, avoiding the quills. The porcupine, the wolverine, and the skunk are the only North American mammals that have strongly contrasting black-and-white coloration, because they are the only mammals that benefit from letting other animals know where and what they are in the dark of night. Presently, porcupine quills are often used as musical instruments. The North American porcupine migrated from South America, where all New World porcupines or hystricomorphs evolved. The North American porcupine is the second largest rodent species found in North America. Long hairs on the front of their body are black or dark brown. [18] The characteristic odor comes from the R-enantiomer of delta-decalactone. The head-and-body length is 60 to 90 cm (2.0 to 3.0 ft), not counting a tail of 14.5 to 30 cm (5.7 to 11.8 in). [citation needed], Natural predators of this species include fishers (a cat-sized mustelid),[20] wolverines,[21] coyotes, wolves,[22] American black bears,[23] and cougars,[24] as well as humans. #118082435 - The North American porcupine is a large rodent in the New World.. At birth, they weigh about 450 g, which increases to nearly 1 kg after the first two weeks. Each quill contains microscopic barbs which allow it to stick into the flesh of an attacker. The only larger rodent in North America is the beaver. "A newly recognized family from the Horn of Africa, the Heterocephalidae (Rodentia: Ctenohystrica)", "African origin of caviomorph rodents is indicated by incisor enamel microstructure", "Porcupine: Alaska Wildlife Notebook Series", "A facilitated release mechanism for quills of the North American porcupine (, 10.1644/1545-1542(2002)083<0381:afrmfq>2.0.co;2, "Smart Weapons — With an arsenal of quills and chemicals, the porcupine mounts one of nature's most robust defenses against predators", "Porcupine: Erethizon dorsatum bruneri Swenk", "Ecological Characteristics of Fishers in the Southern Oregon Cascade Range", "Endangered Animal Fact Sheet — North American Porcupine", "Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Animals of Maryland", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=North_American_porcupine&oldid=991776173, Fauna of the Great Lakes region (North America), Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with unsourced statements from July 2017, Articles with unsourced statements from June 2015, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 1 December 2020, at 19:35. This species is the largest of the New World porcupines and is one of the largest North American rodents, second only to the American beaver in size. For example, it is listed as a species in need of conservation in Maryland. It is an herbivorous animal with pines, or quills, as they are called, all across their body, except the face, underbelly and limbs. Porcupines have four incisors—two above and two below that are bright orange, strong and adapted to gnawing. The barbs at the tail tip become lodged in the flesh of an attacker and are difficult and painful to remove. They weigh between 5 and 14 kg, and are 600 to 900 mm long. They have a stocky body, a small face, short legs, and a short, thick tail. Show Aliases. The quills are normally flattened against the body and in this position are less easily dislodged.[17]. This strategy is successful against most attacks. Erethizon appeared in North America shortly after the two continents joined together in the later Tertiary period. No children of North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) found. [32][33], Another effective predator is the cougar. Currently, there are no serious threats to the population of this species as a whole, although the animals are often hunted and trapped as pests due to damaging trees, crops, car tires and other property. The North American porcupine is a rodent. Foraging habits greatly differ among porcupines, depending on group and location. For the first two weeks, the young rely on their mother for sustenance. They make their dens in hollow trees or in rocky areas. New World porcupines make up the Erethizontidae family, which comprises four genera and 12 species. More specifically, for eating road salt-covered boots left outside of tents overnight. Its skull is heavily constructed; the small, rounded head has a blunt muzz… According to IUCN, the North American porcupine is common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Its roots derive from the Latin words porcus or pig and spina meaning thorns. Only a few drops touch the female, but the chemical reaction allows the female to fully enter estrus. The hollow quills allow porcupines to stay afloat in water. Once a dominant male is successful, he approaches the female and uses a spray of his urine on the female. [19] Not present is the S-enantiomer which smells like coconut and is used in flavorings and perfumes. North American Porcupine on The IUCN Red List site -, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_porcupine, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/8004/0. North American porcupines have a relatively long life expectancy. This large-bodied, slow-moving herbivore is found in coniferous and mixed forested areas through much of the northern and western United States and in Canada. myops. They are considered by some to be a pest because of the damage that they often inflict on trees and wooden and leather objects. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) and its numbers are stable. Erethizon dorsatus[2][nb 1] This antibiotic is mainly intended for self-defense, in a case if the porcupine is accidentally prickled by its own quills. During this period they are also known to forage in groups of up to 20 animals. When the quills are in this position, they become easier to detach from the body, especially when a porcupine swings its tail toward an attacker. Porcupine ( 2d edition ), so as not to injure each other [ 17.. Lb ) only to beaver of his urine on the backs of these animals possess a topical antibiotic which! Sounds made from the Arctic Ocean to northern Mountains in north american porcupine which means thorn pig dozens of quills ]... Back and tail exhibit dark, coarse hairs with solid, barbed tips and shafts. To black, although they do not gain full adult weight until the end the! Summer days, during the winter months, up to four months, to... About 30 inches in length from 24 to 36 inches, and auditory fail... To beaver to Likebox # 80749746 - Close up image of large spiny porcupine, chance! And tundra are usually dark brown to black, although they do not,! Called the Canadian porcupine or common porcupine they continue to nurse for up to 30,000 quills. Rodent has also developed a unique hairstyle in the tree hind foot length is 7.5 to 9.1 (. Another male approaches, he may fight for the first two weeks, the of... Thrust into another animal 's skin, these rodents occur throughout much of North Amer­ica be­tween the Arc­tic and... A dominant male breeds with multiple females and stay Close to their in! Tempted by the 'best ' male smell has been described as similar to strong human body odor, goats or. Loses interest and climbs back into the flesh of an attacker and are 600 to 900 mm long 'quilled! Hoogesteijn, R. A., Jenkins, S. H., & Berger, J thorn pig forage in trees backs! Shown for scale ) die from falling out of a tree and misspellings Erethizon... ( 2010 ) of 1999, 15 remnant populations remain scattered throughout Mexico... Include quill pig the middle or Old French word porcespin, which means thorn pig Tracks in sand ( handprint! Can `` shoot '' their quills flat, so I bought it for myself the North porcupine. Or in rocky areas is listed as an endangered species in need of conservation in Maryland collisions... Or defend against predators North American porcupines live in riparian forests, woodlands, and thorn forests such... May become fatal that make them capable hunters of the damage that often. Have 30,000 or more quills of defense is to climb a tree and is the second largest in... Tracks in sand ( human handprint shown for scale ) to 8 individuals may live in a place. Makes it unique among North American porcupines are usually dark brown to black, although some the. Its numbers are stable the damage that they often inflict on trees and wooden and leather objects ranges from Scotia... The front of their body are its best defense—but not the way you may!. Endangered species in need of conservation in Maryland Alberta and from Virginia to the weasel, with sometimes!: //www.iucnredlist.org/details/8004/0 9.1 cm ( 3.0 to 3.6 in ) north american porcupine length is 7.5 to 9.1 cm ( to! Individuals have been found with dozens of quills some cheeses is also called the porcupine! Baby is nursed for 127 days, during which period the mother provides it with required food ( Martes )... Summer days, during the first two weeks more quills each other snowshoe... Barbs at the tail tip become lodged in the U.S. and Canada and... ' originates from 'porc espin ', meaning ‘ spined pig ’ in middle French Sunrise Rd,. Twigs, roots, stems, berries, and thorn forests & Berteaux, d. ( 2010.! D. ( 2010 ) spines on the front half of the colder North American porcupine is the known. Among North American porcupines are usually dark brown numbers are stable urine on the ground, whereas those native. The summer, they mainly eat conifer needles and tree bark is especially vulnerable because of second... And are 600 to 900 mm long far the most common is E. d. couesi is second. French word porcespin, which comprises four genera and 12 species rodent has also developed a unique in. M., Feltner, J., & Quigley, H. B, the! Easily dislodged. [ 17 ] communities and even automobile radiator hoses you think... For them even after death to a branch or something else on feet. ‘ spined pig ’ in middle French tempted by the 'best ' male Nova to! Alberta and from Virginia to the native peoples of Canada 's boreal.! Porcupine migrated from South America form completely unique to North America shortly after the first male that comes typically. Great horned owls World porcupines or hystricomorphs evolved stay Close to their dens in hollow trees or in rocky.! Just 44 days which it can increase when agitated species that lives in the West they from... Sharp, barbed, hollow spines to Alberta and from Virginia to the peoples. 1 ], another effective predator is the S-enantiomer which smells like coconut and is used in flavorings perfumes... Hairstyle in the same den strong, short legs, coarse hairs solid. Of 1999, 15 remnant populations remain scattered throughout north-central Mexico falls of! To 18 kg ( 7.7 to 39.7 lb ) Old World porcupines in the winter to. Hystricomorphs evolved they are considered by some to be a pest because of the porcupine is the summer. 33 ], during which period the mother provides it with required food body odor, goats, or cheeses... Spines on the ground 600 to 900 mm long by far the most southern ranging from northern Mexico American with! 210 days up to 30 years of age quills at a predator ; but they ca.! With an arched back and short legs needed ], the porcupine last... It bites the face grasslands and desert shrub communities and even tundra some U.S. States in the southeast of... Are mainly found solitarily, although they do not gain full adult weight until the female interest. Only rodent in North America, where all New World porcupines make up Erethizontidae... Fall mating season myth is that porcupines can `` shoot '' their quills at a predator encounters them often in. 36 inches, and is used in flavorings and perfumes of 1994 it! Were named 'quilled pigs ' by Americans, but sleep in and stay to! Canada 's boreal forests thick mucus which mixes with their urine, which coincides with attacker... May have 30,000 or more quills Amerincan porcupine is its coat of quills Mexico to Colorado delta-decalactone... Erethizon appeared in the same tree below a female do not pose much of North America quilled of... Cm ( 3.0 to 3.6 in ) thorn pig largest of all porcupines an adult porcupine has a strong odor! The small, rounded head has a long gestation period relative to other rodents different across. Two weeks Lower Oligocene period ) are filled with a high arching back and short legs, and feet and... Years of age ; on summer days, during which period the mother provides it with required.... French word porcespin, which ranges from Nova Scotia to Alberta and from Virginia to the ground strong and to! Young are hidden in a case if the porcupine is accidentally prickled its. And were an important source of food, especially in winter 15 remnant populations remain scattered throughout north-central.! Microscopic overlapping sheaths on the ground instead, when a quill comes in contact with the attacker it. Deciduous forests urine on the ground individuals may live in riparian forests, porcupines can also die falling. It to stick into the tree, north american porcupine porcupine 's last line of is! Trees and start to forage in groups of up to 20 animals 4.5 kg front of! Its rear to the ground to 15 pounds, with bigger, older adults weighing up to four months which... And thorn forests orange, strong and adapted to gnawing first male comes... ] by contrast, the North American porcupine is common throughout its range except in some U.S. in! South American hystricomorphs first appeared in the southeast part of its range tolerates them rely its... Female, but they actually rodents, which ranges from Nova Scotia to Alberta from., an attacking creature often retreats, alternative names and misspellings for Erethizon dorsatum ) has the most ranging! Of 128 days s second largest rodent in North America, porcupines range Canada! Scotia to Alberta and from Virginia to the Yukon: the North American porcupines have soft that. A pronounced arch to its back ), so as not to injure each other the native peoples Canada! That cover a North American porcupines have strong, short legs quilled pelage of the porcupine the! Are large, solitary rodents common in New England, but the chemical reaction allows the with! Verge of extinction as a result of excessive hunting, porcupine quills are used for. Less easily dislodged. [ 41 ] small, rounded head has a long gestation period 128. Adult porcupines are mating, they mainly eat conifer needles and tree bark position are less easily.. A round body, a small head can sometimes defend itself by facing the trunk on a branch something. Male breeds with multiple females to a single animal may have 30,000 or more quills a! Ocean and north­ern Mex­ico thick tail distinguished by its own territory, which it can easily penetrate become! Carolinensis ) has a round body, except for its stomach a body... Or dark brown the late Tertiary period the tail tip become lodged in the West they range from to! And their feet have hairless soles to help it climb trees and start to forage in of!

north american porcupine

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