By: Sarah W.
I’m always excited when an animal I haven’t seen in my yard shows up, and this happened a few days ago. She seems to be young, but able to take care of herself – foraging for food on the ground and in trees. I’ve seen her napping on the ground and waddling around with a purpose (known to her, but not to me). Have you guessed? She’s a porcupine.
I’m guessing “she” because a male spends the first winter with his mother, according to Wikipedia.
Our North American version is one of the many orders of porcupines, living in the old world and the new. All have quills, and contrary to popular belief, they cannot throw them. When a predator (or a curious person such as myself) gets too close she turns her back to the danger, the quills stand up from her body and are easily dislodged. And no, I didn’t get that close. Porcupines can also emit a strong odor to discourage predators. I’ve noticed this odor by my woodpile.
Porcupines will eat roots, twigs, berries, clover and other vegetation in season. In winter conifer needles and tree bark are on the menu. If you’re walking in the woods, maybe that dark knot on a tree branch is really a porcupine.
The photo below shows ‘Porkie’ in the Dawn Redwood tree in my yard, and she’s eating the twigs and needles.