These cute animals live all around the world: in Asia, Europe, Africa and both North and South America. No natural habitat is alien to them, since they are very adaptive. Forests, deserts, rocks or even snowy areas: you name it! But nevertheless, since they are nocturnal animals – meaning that they only search for food at night – humans don’t get to see them very often. That is why we give you these fun facts about the porcupine, accompanied with some incredibly cute and funny pictures.
1. Porcupines are the third largest rodents in the world!
Of course, not all of them are as big as the one in the picture. That is one belongs to the family of the biggest porcupines of the world: Crested porcupine. It can weigh between 13 and 27 kilograms! Apparently it is so big that it’s quills can scare a leopard off. Which brings us to the second fascinating fact…
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2. The quills!
One porcupine has approximately 30 000 quills! Although it was previously thought that porcupines can shoot their quills out at the predator, this is not true. It releases them when in contact with the attacking animal. But are these quills actually dangerous?
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3. Their quills are actually pre-medicated.
Yes, you read it right: the quills contain an antibiotic, so a wound caused by them will not necessarily lead to an infection. It is believed that this is a defense mechanism that serves as a prevention from accidental self-quilling. So, what is the big deal if you get quilled by a porcupine?
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4. The quills have barbed ends.
So, if you get quilled by a porcupine, getting their quills out of your skin is going to be a long, hard and painful process. The shape of the backward-facing barbed ends have recently inspired a new type of hypodermic needle. They are exceptionally good at two things: penetrating the skin and staying there. Well, the little poor creatures have to defend themselves somehow, don’t they?
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5. Humans are one of the main predators of porcupines.
Although porcupines are rarely eaten in Western cultures, but they are a specialty in many parts of Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam. The quills are used as decorative elements in tribal cultures, such as Native American or African tribes. Lakota women would harvest the quills by throwing the blanket over a porcupine. Because it would think it is under attack, the porcupine would release its quills, so the Lakota would just need to collect them. In some parts of Africa these quills are considered good luck charms.
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6. Porcupines live a solitary life.
They prefer living alone, but sometimes form small groups of up to six members.
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7. The woman initiates.
During mating season, it is usually the female that initiates contact. The mating ritual starts with a gentle nose rubbing, involves a vicious battle, and usually ends in the male urinating on the female. This is the ultimate matchmaking test: that is how the female smells if she likes the male’s pheromones or not. The female porcupines are in the mood for making love for only about 8-12 hours a year.
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8. Porcupines are good parents.
The couple usually gets two babies, just enough to maintain the species. They are mammals, meaning that the babies are born alive, after being in the mother’s stomach for between 112-120 days. Both of the parents take care of the babies. They stay together the first couple of months, as long as the baby doesn’t gain its independence.
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9. Baby porcupines are incredibly cute!
Baby porcupines are called porcupettes. As if the name wasn’t cute enough, these babies are born with soft quills – so that the mother can deliver them without unnecessary pain. But this also means that they can be easily held in hand. These quills harden during the next hours. The baby is dependent on mother’s milk for about eight weeks.
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10. Salty is porcupines favorite flavor.
Porcupines are in constant need of salt. This is one of the main reasons that they are considered pests. They would chew and gnaw on just about anything that is even a bit salty – even at things that were just being held by a sweaty human hand.
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