Porcupine Tracks and Trail Pattern

Natural History of Porcupines

Porcupines are nocturnal vegetarians, but can be active by day. They eat the inner bark, or cambium, of trees. They will also eat foliage, twigs, bark, leaves, buds, fruits, berries, nuts, flowers, and will sometimes feed in fields.

They move slowly and don't see well. They climb trees to escape predators, but will use their quills if they have to.

Porcupines do not shoot their quills. The quills are loosely attached. If attacked, a porcupine slaps the attacker with its tail. Many dogs have ended up with a muzzle full of quills by getting too close to a porcupine. The quills have barbs and will work their way in deeper if left alone. A single porcupine may have 30,000 quills. Quills are modified hairs that have hollow shafts with solid tips and bases. The quills can be up to five inches long.

Newborn porcupines weigh more than grizzly bear cubs do at birth.

Their tracks show four toes on the front foot and five on the hind foot. Marks made by the long claws usually show. The heel pads have a pebbly texture. This acts as a non-slip surface and helps them climb trees. Sometimes, a tail drag mark is visible in the trail. Porcupine scat is in pellet form, and often found in piles at the base of a tree where the animal has been feeding.

Fishers are predators that can eat porcupines. They flip the porcupine over to get at the soft underside, which lacks quills.

Porcupines love salt and will chew on wooden tool handles that have absorbed perspiration to get the salt

Personal Notes on Porcupines

Find porcupine posters, greeting cards, t-shirts, hats, and more in my new store.

Now available: "Animals Don't Cover Their Tracks - An Introduction to Animal Tracking" on CD! (Version 3.0) New drawings, more species, more photos, more extensive sections on tracking humans, more detailed directions for plaster casting, mystery tracks section, tracking stories section, and more. The CD features over 100 species, including special bonus sections with the tracks of some African and Australian animals. A large section on tracking lost people for search and rescue is included, with over four pages of photos showing the details of tracks and signs people leave. Easy to use format. This web site is limited by bandwidth, but the CD-ROM is not. The CD is available in my online store at: www.dirt-time.com  Works with Mac or PC. Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!


Find other tracking products: www.zazzle.com/tracker8459*


Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.

ASL Signs of Love - For anyone who uses or is learning ASL, American Sign Language. Custom name items and more are available here.

Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!


prints prints

Got a porcupine story? E-mail me and tell me about it.


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Copyright 1997-2008. Text and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera