North American Porcupine ( Erethizon dorsatum )
North American Porcupine - North American Porcupine information - North American Porcupine facts, pictures, photos
The North American Porcupine, (Erethizon dorsatum) is a quill-bearing rodent (Order Rodentia). The Porcupine is a heavyset, short-legged and slow-moving rodent that spends much of its time in trees. It lives in all the North American desert regions, in west, north to Canada; usually in woods and woodlands.
This large rodent has a small head, large, chunky body with a high arching back and short legs. Its head and body are 63 to 100 centimetres long, with long, thick, muscular tail. It weighs from 4 to 18 kg. It has long, yellowish guard hairs that 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 tail. They are actually modified hairs, barbed spines about 8 centimetres long that can be easily barbs once embedded in another animals' flesh.
Porcupines live 5 to 6 years. They usually have one or two young, which are born with soft quills that harden within an hour. They open eyes about ten days later. Although they begin eating solid food after two weeks, they continue to be nursed for 4 or 5 months.
They are usually solitary and nocturnal animal. During the day, they rest in hollow trees and longs, crevices in rocky bluffs or underground burrows. Porcupines are herbivorous – strict vegetarians. In the spring they feed on leaves, twigs and green plants. In winter, they chew through the outer bark of fir, hemlock, aspen and pines trees to eat the tender layer of tissue below.