According to scientific intel, female porcupines are only fertile 8 to 12 hours a year and they mate (if the male manages to find a willing female) in the Autumn.
"So what were these two up to?", I asked myself, being that it was May 25th.
Initially the female (the smaller & lighter colour of the two porcupines) was on the higher branch, with the male on the lower branch. All nether region private parts had been identified. :)
As the evening progressed, the male climbed down from the tree which allowed the female to climb to the lower branch. He then re-climbed the tree taking her higher branch. Each one sniffed the other's branch. Eventually the female climbed down to the ground, followed shortly thereafter by the male.
It was now about half an hour to sunset. And that's when it all began. Once the two met up, it was a combination of sumo wrestling & Looney Tune Tasmanian Devils. Along with the rough & tumble physical side, was a mixture of squeaks, screams, humming & chatter. There was porcupine boxing, belly bumping (the one part of a porcupine's anatomy other than its face with no quills), and wrestling. They used the 1/2 square kilometre of woods as their "playpen".
Although much smaller than the male, the female gave as good as she got. The male (who I believe is younger), managed to get nailed by some small quills on his face and nose.
And the two no longer cared how close I was or how noisy. In fact, I had to quickly retreat several times to avoid contact from these two rolling pincushions. I had the long lens retracted to its smaller limit in order to get in close enough to obtain as clean a shot as possible without too much of the shrubbery. The activity continued for approximately half an hour.
I never did see the actual "act" but it could have happened anytime undercover or when the two scampered off together, side by side, to retreat into the wooded area and quiet returned to the area.
So are porcupines keeping secrets? Perhaps they do like to meet up other than for actual mating purposes. The entire event although fairly rough and tumble, certainly appeared to be consensual for both parties. This species of porcupine is referred to as North American or New World Porcupine so perhaps they have new ideas :) !
Let's meet the cast of two.
PHOTO #1 - The Young Male (in profile)
PHOTO #2 - The Young Male (full side view)
PHOTO #3 - The Older Female (climbing down the tree)
PHOTO #4 - The Older Female (in profile)
PHOTO #5 - The Pairing in the Tree
PHOTO #6 - Porcupine Belly Bumping (Female in foreground, Male in background)
PHOTO #7 - Porcupine Boxing (Male left, Female right)
PHOTO #8 - "Porcupine Wrestling" (Female in the background, Male in the foreground)
PHOTO #9 - Hide & Seek (Male on Top of Log) and Female is underneath (right bottom corner)
PHOTO #10 - Hide & Seek cont'd (Male has been quilled probably from the Belly Bumping incident), Female (right bottom corner)
PHOTO #11 - Search & Seek (Male & Female)
PHOTO #12 - "Queen of the Castle" - Female at back, Male at lower level