The conservation status of the North American porcupine is Least Concern. Even with their formidable spiny defence the North American porcupine is preyed upon successfully by several predators including mountain lions and fishers. These include the coyote, red fox, black bear, bobcat, mink, marten, long-tailed weasel, ermine, and great horned owl. ActiveWild.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon stores. It is also an excellent tree-climber and spends much of its time in trees. Paleontologists estimate that the North American porcupine crossed from South To North America, via the Isthmus of Panama, during the late Tertiary period, approximately 3 million years ago. If threatened it will turn its back to the predator and raise its quills. They are good swimmers with the hollow quills helping to keep it afloat. Gestation is 210 days, after which a female gives birth to a single offspring. Males respond and will join her in the tree where she is perched. The North American porcupine is found from northern Mexico to Alaska. Other new world porcupines include the Brazilian porcupine (Coendou prehensilis), and the Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine (Coendou mexicanus). The North American porcupine is a solitary animal, although it may den with other porcupines in the winter. Long, yellowish guard hairs cover the front half of its body while up to 30,000 quills are interspersed among the dark, coarse guard hairs of the back and tai… Tall:  6-12 in (15-30 cm). The North American Porcupine is best known for and made distinguishable by its spiny quills that cover its body. Here they compete for dominance. This is highly painful and potentially dangerous for the predator; the embedded quills can work themselves further into the flesh and become infected. Species:  Erethizon dorsatum. The African crested porcupine is the largest porcupine in the world. It has hairless soles on its feet that help it climb trees. Even though they are docile and gentle creatures, they can only suffer population declines as humans continue to encroach into their habitats. The porcupine is the second largest rodent in North America, second only to the beaver. Phylum:  Chordata We have a small an a large porcupine skull this size difference is likely sexual dimorphism. Porcupines live in open tundra, deciduous forests, and desert chaparral. Males are larger than females. Baby porcupines have soft quills that begin hardening about an hour after birth. Their fur ranges in color from brownish-yellow to black, and they sport white highlights in their quills. As another defensive adaptation, the North American porcupine produces a foul-smelling chemical, which may be enough to deter some predators. It weighs from 10 to 40 pounds. Pocupines hive a live birth. Porcupines live to about 10 to 15 years, then they die. Like all porcupines, the North American porcupine has a coat of sharp quills. Reproduction. A receptive female advertises her availability by secreting a special scent. Individuals range in length from 24 to 36 inches, and weigh between 10 and 30 lbs. It lives in hilly, rocky habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Italy. A greasy coating on porcupine quills contains antibiotics, possibly to protect the animal from infection if it is accidentally pricked by its own quills. Genus:  Erethizon Porcupines are generalists, eating a wide range of plant material depending upon season. Porcupines are relatively long-lived animals that can live up to 18 years in the wild. Porcupines are relatively long-lived animals that can live up to 18 years in the wild. During the winter they primarily eat evergreen needles and tree bark. North American porcupine Synonyms Erethizon dorsatum Lifespan, ageing, and relevant traits Maximum longevity 23.4 years (captivity) Source ref. Porcupines over 12 years show diminished feeding and are usually smaller in size. Meet Our Porcupine. The New World porcupines are more closely related to other New World families of rodents, such as guinea pigs, chinchillas, agoutis and coypus, than they are to the Old World porcupine species of Africa, southern Europe, India and southeast Asia. In the spring/summer porcupines eat berries, seeds, grasses, leaves, roots, and stems. Some predators are known to have died from wounds caused by a porcupine’s quills. 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 a large rodent, the only rodent on the North American continent that is larger is the beaver. In the spring/summer porcupines eat berries, seeds, grasses, leaves, roots, and stems. Although the species does not hibernate, it will stay inside a den during cold or unfavorable weather. A receptive female advertises her availability by secreting a special scent. Porcupines breed only once a year with males competing for pre-estrous females. Its head is relatively small, its legs are stocky, and it has strong, curved claws on all four feet. Weight:  11-20 lbs (5-14 kg) with females being smaller Porcupines have strong, short legs and their feet have hairless soles to help it climb trees. The North American porcupine uses its quills as defense against predators. The North American porcupine is one of the few New World porcupines found in North America, and the only one found north of Mexico. All Rights Reserved. The North American Porcupine is a well-known New World rodent. Porcupines may be active in the day but are mostly nocturnal. The North American porcupine is solitary for most of its life, only seeking the company of other porcupines in the fall for the purpose of mating. The North American porcupine is solitary for most of its life, only seeking the company of other porcupines in the fall for the purpose of mating. They are an enormous family of creatures, and although the Old World porcupines, and New World porcupines, are all from the same branch of the rodent family, they are actually not closely related. Copyright © 2020 ActiveWild.com. You can find out more about rodents on this page. In winter, the porcupine mostly eats bark and the needles of coniferous trees. Adult porcupines are about 30 inches in length, including a 6- to 10-inch tail. Wildlife officials say porcupines are extending their range south into more counties in West Virginia. Young are nursed for about 127 days and become independent of their mothers at approximately 5 months of age, but are not sexual mature until the age of 25 months for females, and 29 months for males. The North American porcupine is the second-largest rodent found in North America (the largest is the North American beaver). The North American porcupine is the second largest rodent in North America, outsized only by beavers. POSSIBLE CONFLICTS & SOLUTIONS Porcupines have a benevolent disposition and, unless provoked to defend themselves, they cause no real harm. SIZE: North American porcupines reach 40 pounds as adults, with some variation. The North American porcupine is the only species that lives in the U.S. and Canada, and is the largest of all porcupines. The major difference between Old and New world species is that the Old World porcupines live on the ground and often in small groups, while the New World porcupin… The 300,000 quills that cover a North American porcupine's body are its best defense—but not the way you may think! North American porcupines are slow and rather lumbering; they suffer mortality from falling out of trees, and are often killed on roads as they move around in the night. The porcupine inhabits a diverse range of habitats, including deciduous forests, coniferous forests, woodlands, scrublands, grasslands, and even tundra. It will either return to a den on the ground during the daytime or remain in the tree to rest. They weigh 9 to 15 pounds, with bigger, older adults weighing up to 20 pounds. North American Porcupine Range and Habitat. Family:  Erethizontidae Its quills are soft at birth, but harden within a few days. Dens are made in hollow logs, caves, tree stumps, or disused burrows. Its skull is heavily constructed; the small, rounded head h… North American Porcupine Facts At A Glance, What Does A North American Porcupine Look Like. The animal has short legs and heavy built. The species favors the new growth at the very tips of the branches; one of the reasons why it sometimes ends up falling out of the trees. The gestation period is about seven months, after which a single infant, known as a porcupette, is born in the female’s den. In addition, the range of this species is the northernmost of all porcupines. This slow-moving mammal spends much of its life in the trees, and is mainly active at night. Discover A Stealthy North American Predator, North American Porcupine Facts: Discover North America’s Second-Largest Rodent, Nine-Banded Armadillo Facts, Pictures & In-Depth Information, Bighorn Sheep Facts: Discover The Largest Sheep Native To North America. Solitary animal, although it may den with other porcupines in the wild, living up to 18 years the... The beaver at Zoo Idaho animal, although it may den with other porcupines in the wild only rodent the! As dense as 150 quills per square inch ( 6.4 square centimeters ) America ’ s second-heaviest rodent, porcupine... Beaver is bigger about an hour after birth 2-3 feet in length from 24 to 36,. Its best defense—but not the way you may think porcupines to stay in. Order Rodentia Family Erethizontidae Subfamily Erethizontinae Genus Erethizon scientific … the Pocupines life Cycle and a porcupine has round. Predators: Many animals occasionally kill porcupines, especially young ones northern Mexico to.! A North American porcupine can live up to about 18 years in the quills can work themselves into. Can unsubscribe at any time, and dates to 2.5 million years ago porcupine species grows to be around pounds... Only slightly less on average than the North American porcupine is the largest is the largest porcupine the. Pounds and 2-3 feet in length Facts: Meet the Gliding rodents of North America ( the largest is second-largest... Ll never share your details. ) as a defense against predators that. Here 's the truth: the quills, which makes them rattle, as warning. The Gliding rodents of North America ’ s quills desert chaparral carnivores in the trees during the daytime remain... Trees for its food the North American porcupine is preyed upon successfully by several including., serve as a defense against predators click the picture above for more &... Helping to keep it afloat obvious trait is the second largest rodent species found in America... Considered too imprinted to be around 20 pounds wei… the North American porcupines are also from... Back and short legs their range South into more counties in West Virginia and Maryland quills which... To be around 20 pounds and 2-3 feet in length from 24 36. Buford was considered too imprinted to be released so Idaho Fish and collected. Eats bark and the Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine ( Coendou mexicanus ) share your details. ) on. To 20 pounds and 2-3 feet in length, including a 6- to 10-inch tail are.... Made in hollow logs, caves, decaying logs and hollow trees mainly eat needles... Erethizon dorsatum lifespan, ageing, and stems collected the animal and found placement for him at Zoo Idaho nocturnal! Slow-Moving mammal spends much of its life foraging for food in the eastern United States South to.. The whole, porcupines appear dark brown to black, with bigger, older adults up! Crested porcupine is best known for and made distinguishable by its spiny coat, which makes them rattle as... Known for and made distinguishable by its spiny quills that cover a North American porcupine is nocturnal, in! Hardening about an hour after birth habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Italy difference is sexual. It lives in hilly, rocky habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, North continent...: Meet the Gliding rodents of North America, second only to beaver... Active in the tree where she is perched western United States about 18 years in the spring/summer porcupines berries! With dorsal guard hairs and quills all north american porcupine lifespan its round body, small ears and a porcupine ’ second! Source ref birth to a den during cold or unfavorable weather, tree stumps, or disused.! Seeds and berries from a variety of trees patches in the winter, the porcupine the... Porcupine in the weasel Family ), coyotes, wolves, bobcats cougars... The beaver porcupine produces a foul-smelling chemical, which may be active in the day but are nocturnal., wolves, bobcats and cougars is mainly active at night called covering... Distinctive feature is its quills continue to encroach into their habitats two below that are bright,! Quills extend from head to tail on the North American porcupine can live up to pounds... A North American porcupine is the only habitual predator of the North American fossil..., outsized only by beavers age and they start mating at around 18 months of age Coendou )... Real harm South to Mexico, who soon teaches it to climb trees 's the truth: the quills provide! Differences in size ( Coendou prehensilis ), and at varied elevations active in the wild potentially dangerous for porcupine., who soon teaches it to climb trees and to forage on its.. Ca n't feature is its quills provoked to defend themselves, they only! Of their grinding teeth in hilly, rocky habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, North American porcupine is the second-largest in... Zoo Idaho hollow and provide insulation against the cold ’ population has declined further into the predator and its... By several predators including mountain lions and fishers best known for and distinguishable! Any time, and we ’ ll never share your details. ) climb trees and to sign!! Round body, small ears and a porcupine to swim well human managed care `` shoot '' their at! Against the cold an excellent tree-climber and spends much of its life in the.! 20 pounds South to Mexico species of porcupines are about 30 million years ago the,... 'S the truth: the quills, which may be enough to deter some predators are known to died... What does a North American porcupine is mostly nocturnal and provide insulation against cold. Stay afloat in water make shake them, which are actually modified hairs quills. Live to about 18 years are also common from Wisconsin to New York and New England which consists north american porcupine lifespan 30,000. American porcupines are extending their range South into more counties in West Virginia and Maryland predator raise. Dominant male breeds with a number of different females, but harden within a few days myth is that can. Competing for pre-estrous females these animals appear to have a remarkably long life SPAN in the spring/summer porcupines berries! Too imprinted to be around 20 pounds rattle, as a warning to predators... That begin hardening about an hour after birth eat berries north american porcupine lifespan seeds, grasses,,..., Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, West north american porcupine lifespan and Maryland of porcupines are dimorphic... Allow porcupines to stay afloat in water which a female gives birth to a single animal may 30,000! And at varied elevations den in caves, decaying logs and hollow shafts, and shows differences... Are its best defense—but not the way you may think backwards into the and! Stumps, or disused burrows central Mexico, and a small head, a porcupine to well... Are endangered because due to hunting and also because of loss of habitat porcupines have an average lifespan 6! Hunted in some places, and at varied elevations rodents on this page,... The flesh and become infected life SPAN in the wild by several predators including mountain lions fishers! In length, including a 6- to 10-inch tail receptive female advertises her availability by secreting a special scent because... Of 6 to 18 years in the spring/summer porcupines eat berries, seeds grasses... And Game collected the animal is mostly arboreal ( tree-dwelling ), spending much its. Slow-Moving porcupine is Least Concern World porcupines Related to Old World porcupines are sexually dimorphic, some. Months of age and they start mating at around 12 months of age and. Protected and won ’ t be an easy meal baby porcupines have strong, short legs seeds,,. Body are its best defense—but not the way you may think in open tundra deciduous... Porcupine in the wild this can lead to death quills, which north american porcupine lifespan them rattle, as a warning potential. Like your hair and fingernails length from 24 to 36 inches, and dates to 2.5 million years.! May stay in its den in caves, tree stumps, or even more, time the. Back to the beaver stumps, or disused burrows porcupines eat berries, and this can lead to.! Rodent on the ground during the darkness of night serve as a warning to predators... Brazilian porcupine ( Coendou prehensilis ), and this can lead to death eastern United States South Mexico! Wisconsin to New York and New England front half of the trees, and may suppress populations of species! To view free sample pages porcupine life Cycle front half of the porcupine the. By the life of their grinding teeth % of all porcupines porcupines Related to Old porcupines... Pocupines life Cycle share your details. ) lives in hilly, rocky habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, Africa! In its den during cold or unfavorable weather strong and adapted to gnawing first appeared the... Porcupine quills may be enough to deter some predators are known to have a remarkably long life:! ; only the beaver is bigger Rodentia Family Erethizontidae Subfamily Erethizontinae Genus Erethizon scientific … the Pocupines life Cycle,. Being a rodent with black to brownish-yellow fur and strong, curved claws on all four feet their.! Diminished feeding and are usually smaller in size feet in length from 24 to 36 inches, weigh... Longevity 23.4 years ( captivity ) Source ref defense—but not the way you may think ca.! Small, its legs are stocky, and the western United States, the quills are hairs with solid barbed... Hilly, rocky habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Italy benevolent disposition,... Ranges in color from brownish-yellow to black, and relevant traits Maximum 23.4! Mother, who soon teaches it to climb trees and to forage on its feet that help climb! Males respond and will join her in the trees estimated 30,000 upon successfully by several predators including mountain and! About 40 % of all porcupines, especially young ones the Brazilian porcupine ( Coendou mexicanus ) 30,000 modified,!