Alaska, Canada, U.S.A. except southeast quarter, extreme north of Mexico
Timbered and wooded areas
Wild: Bark, evergreens, herbaceous plants, flowers, leaves
Zoo: Apples, bananas, yams, monkey chow, vionate, cod liver oil
Up to 18 years
The porcupine averages 3.5 feet in length, including a 6-inch tail, and can weigh up to 40 lbs. The upper body is covered with sharp quills nestled among long, thick fur ranging down the tail. The underside is covered with long, dark fur. The feet have a naked sole, and 4 toes on the front feet, and 5 toes on the hind feet.
Did You Know?
The number of quills on a porcupine can exceed 30,000. These quills are hollow, and also provide buoyancy when swimming, which the porcupine does extremely well. Although they have poor vision, their senses of hearing and smell are good. North American Indian tribes have extensively utilized the porcupine’s quills for decorations on clothing, headdresses and moccasins.
The Genus name, Erethizon, is from the Greek erethizo, “I rouse to anger, I irritate.” The species name, dorsatum, is from the Latin dorsum, “the back” and atus, a suffix meaning “provided with.” “Having a back that irritates.”
Where in the Zoo?
I can be found in the Conservation Education Programs at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.