Porcupine

Despite what this porcupine seems to think, there are plenty of trees for everyone at the 13th edition of the Festival of the Trees.
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Thanks to my friends Chris and Seung for the use of their laptop and high-speed internet to upload the above video, which I shot in Plummer’s Hollow last week. (I wasn’t using the zoom — the porcupine really was that close!)

14 Comments


  1. Wow! On our trip up north several years ago I so wanted to see a porcupine, but the only time we found them was as roadkill. I take it they are not always so tame? Are they always so squished flat on one end?! So cool.

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  2. I loved watching this so much. So close, complete with the rustling of leaves. Really special. Thank you.

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  3. Glad y’all enjoyed this. In response to Karen’s questions, I wouldn’t call it tameness so much as a disinclination to run away — they don’t have to. Instead, porcupines typically respond to a threat by turning their back on it and raising the quills on their backside, giving it that flattened appearance. Clacking their teeth is another typical threat response, and you can hear that here. This one was unusual in that it actually approached me, as if trying to make me back away. I’ve never seen one do that before — and I’ve interacted with a lot of porcupines.

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  4. Yeah, love that aft display. *Very* intimidating. Sort of a “Kiss my ass–go on do it–I dare you.”

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  5. That is a great video, dave. Fantastic view of its defense mechanisms. It looks like they don’t move very quickly, a good thing for you, in case it changed its mind and thought you should have a closer encounter.

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  6. Sort of a “Kiss my ass—go on do it—I dare you.â€?
    Yeah, exactly!

    It looks like they don’t move very quickly
    No, that’s right. You’re seeing close to top speed there in the last few seconds of the video.

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  7. Whew!!!

    Remarkably close encounter.
    I found myself backing away from the laptop screen.

    Also reminded me of one camping trip — rustle rustle rustle outside my tiny tent-for-one, and I woke up out of a sound sleep to stare through mesh straight at…

    …a skunk’s butt.

    It looked over its shoulder at me — I think I was as still as a living being could get — and then it snorted and stamped off.

    Wheeeeewwww.

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  8. Great reality TV, Dave. How you could get so close is amazing. I love the porcupine with his/her anxious little face and watching its movements is mesmerising. They must have a hard time finding a comfortable position in which to sleep. Permanent bed of nails?

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  9. Lori – Yeah, I worry about skunks way more than porcupines, as far as critters with passive-aggressive defense strategies go.

    Natalie – Surprisingly, I don’t think porcupines have an especially difficult time with their own quills – even sex isn’t much of a problem, apparently. It’s thought, though, that the quills are naturally antiseptic in order to prevent infection in case a porcupine does manage to stab itself, for example by falling out of a tree.

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  10. Super video. I was approached by a porcupine in a similar way once, and that was while I was hiking along a trail through a shady hemlock forest. My impression was that the porcupine didn’t see me immediately and was unsure of which way to go. I was standing still, and it kept advancing, but then I think it realized I wasn’t a tree, so it turned and wandered off into the forest. I’ve heard that their eyesight isn’t particularly good, so that might explain why it happened.

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