"TRUST ME - I COULDN'T MAKE THESE UP!" - Porcupine (North American)

April 24, 2023  •  1 Comment


Porcupine (North American) - 7 Photos



When photographing porcupines, I try to find the most optimal location from which to shoot (location, light, etc.) & wherever possible, blend into the landscape. This minimizes the stress on the porcupine & doesn't cause undue attention to my subject. I've been exposed too many times where wildlife has been subjected to mobbing by onlookers. This may seem selfish but I do believe that the welfare of the animal is paramount and unfortunately, not everyone adheres to that code. 


When conditions are right, porcupines like to "hang out" during the day in trees, particularly deciduous ones, to catch some warm sunny rays (particularly in the Winter) and occasionally munch on the bark of branches. They also love buds just before they come into leaf. Those sap filled buds must be porcupine candy. 


Porcupines are more active than one would think, while they are in those lofty branches. Their movements can be frequent but for very short periods, usually just seconds. So I usually subscribe to some "porcupine meditation" where one gets comfortable for the long haul, lying on the ground and just hanging out in the shrubbery. 


Being hidden from passersby, leads to some occasional overhearing of commentary about porcupines. These are just four that I heard one afternoon.


1. "I didn't know they climbed trees!"

Now I don't know where these individuals are seeing porcupines on the ground & if it is that frequent, I would  like to know the locations.


2. "I've never seen a porcupine in a tree before. It must be injured and has gone up a tree to die."

This one hit me directly in the heart. I normally do not correct individuals but in this instance, I had to inform the gentleman that this was, indeed, a regular & normal occurrence and it was a very healthy & active porcupine.


3. "Be careful if you walk under that tree. You don't want to have any quills falling on you."

Okay, I think the general population now knows that porcupines do not throw their quills but this has to be a new one for the books. Probably the worst that could happen, is to be hit by falling porcupine poop. And no worries, it's very hard (because of the porcupine diet), about 1 inch long and 3/8 inch wide. 


4. "Oh my that's a beaver! I didn't know beavers climbed trees."

At first, I thought I had misheard but no, this statement was repeated to the fellow's wife & two additional walkers. I just couldn't bring myself to make any comments.


And now for some photos of one of those tree climbing porcupines, North America's second largest rodents, the largest being the beaver who, of course, does not climb trees :) :) ! Yes, beavers can stand upright but the only trees they can climb on are the horizontal kind. (Photo #7)













I like the porcupine in the last photo ;)
That last comment by the passers by was really weird...
And the photos are marvellous, you've had a great light!
What a nice animal, does not down the trees, just eats the bark.
Kind of like people using cork for the flooring.
Thanks for the email, these photos are a real treat!
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