North American Porcupine

Erethizon dorsatum
Porcupine

At the EcoTarium

The EcoTarium is home to one North American Porcupine, named Sergeant Pepper. He was likely raised in captivity and came to the EcoTarium from Southwick's Zoo. He was born in 2002 and arrived at the EcoTarium in June 2006. You can find him in the Animal Corner building on the museum’s Lower Courtyard.

About North American Porcupines

Porcupines are the second largest rodent in North America. They are found in the forests of Canada, Northern Mexico, and North and West United States. They are nocturnal and have poor vision but good hearing and smell, and they are very good climbers. Porcupines are herbivores, and their diet consists of bark, leaves, fruits, and some nuts.

Porcupines have large, ever-growing incisors and 30,000 hollow, sharp quills. Despite popular belief, porcupines do not shoot their quills. They are loosely attached and detach easily. When threatened, the porcupine will turn its back, chatter its teeth, and contracts muscles in the back that cause the quills to rise. The quills will be released into the predator if it comes in contact. The porcupine also has antibiotics in its skin so that he does not get an infection when he gets stuck by his own quills, which often happens when he falls out of a tree. The quills, specifically on the tail, also help the porcupine climb trees.

Their lifespan in the wild is about 10 years. They do not have many predators, but sometimes lynx, fishers, and mountain lions will prey on them.