The porcupine is a rodent known for its coat of sharp spines, or quills that defend it from predators. The porcupine is the third largest rodent, after the beaver. Most porcupines are about 63 to 91 cm (25 to 36 inches) long, with an 20- to 25- cm (8- to 10-inch) long tail. Weighing between 5.4 and 16 kg (12 and 35 pounds), they are rounded, large, and slow. Porcupines come in various shades of brown and the unusual white. The name "porcupine" comes from combining the Latin for pig and French for spine, hence the nickname "quill pig" for the animal. In parts of Africa, porcupines are eaten as a form of bush meat. The porcupine's chief defense is its quills, sharp spines distributed across the rodent's back, sides, legs, tail, and head. They may be as dense as 150 per square inch, giving one animal as many as 30,000 quills. Porcupines do not throw their quills; unfortunate attackers approach closely enough to be swatted by the tail or brush against the animal. Like the related ordinary hairs, porcupine quills grow back when they come out.














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When threatened, a porcupine will raise its quills. This is the piloerection reflex, the same as the goose bump reflex in humans. A porcupine can defend itself by hiding its bare face from an attacker and keeping its bare belly to the ground. It may swat its tail at an assailant. Fishers sometimes successfully attack porcupines by biting their faces. Quills are not poisoned, but animals may die from a porcupine encounter if the quills prevent eating. Porcupines often fall on their own quills. Likely as an evolutionary result, the quills possess mild antibiotic properties. Quills are sharp-pointed, fitted with microscopic barbs, and expand on contact with warm flesh. Muscle contractions in a quill victim work the quill deeper, as much as an inch per day unless quills are removed promptly.

Above Images Are From The US Bureau Of Land Management




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