“Come At Me, Bro”


This little guy was waddling across my lawn in 2008, so I told the dogs to stay on the porch, grabbed my camera and ran out to say hello.

RAWWWWWRRR!!!!

RAWWWWWRRR!!!!

You can see he’s fresh out of the porcupine factory, he’s got baby quills. I thought about, you know, petting him – because that’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see a porcupine, right? As I got closer, he sat up like this and started bobbing his head from side to side like a boxer. That was when I realized he was trying to triangulate and get my range.

He then proceeded to stomp up to the porch and eat the leftovers out of one of the dogs’ bowls. I told the boys to stay back and leave him alone and they were confused because they already knew that “sticklepigs, bad” but eating the leftovers was off the chart for them. So I brought out some carrots, salted them a bit, and left a plate and a water dish for the little guy.

For 3 days or so I had “porchupine” and the dogs left him alone. Then he wandered off. Or the dogs ate him when I wasn’t looking.

Full grown porcupines are not as cute, and they don’t get any smarter as they age.

Comments

  1. says

    Oh, I love porcupines. Way too many of them end up roadkill around here. The monster dogs are accustomed to everyone else eating their food. Inside, it’s the rats and cats. Outside, grackles, bluejays, bunnies, and whatever else wanders by.

  2. says

    I may do a series of postings of some of the many critters I have seen around here. Porchupine was certainly the cutest. Well, that and the baby bear that ate pieces of my car seat and threw them up all over the place.

  3. Charles Sullivan says

    I wasn’t sure what you meant by: “That was when I realized he was trying to triangulate and get my range.” The only thing that comes to mind was that you thought that porcupines can shoot their quills, but they can’t. They don’t even really attack, because their defense is so good.

  4. says

    Charles Sullivan@#3:
    I wasn’t sure what you meant by: “That was when I realized he was trying to triangulate and get my range.” The only thing that comes to mind was that you thought that porcupines can shoot their quills, but they can’t. They don’t even really attack, because their defense is so good.

    When my dogs were about 2 years old, they cornered a full-grown porcupine against the foundation of the barn. They had already learned about sticklepigs (the hard way!) and knew that the correct thing to do was bark a lot and wait for daddy. So I came running to check the situation out, called them off, and took at look at the porky. He was pretty huge, and had adopted a pose with his head to the wall and his tail (the correct orientation of his quills) to us. Very good strategy. He wasn’t moving at all – as you say – they tend to just wait for attackers to give up and go away.

    So I picked up a shovel from the back of my truck, turned it around, and poked it gently in the butt with the end. At which point porky whipped around and whacked his tail against the handle, then turned his back on me again. I pulled back the shovel in surprise – and there were about 5 quills stuck in the hickory handle of the shovel.

    I assumed the porchupine was trying to get my range so he could try a turn/tail-smash at me.

    I know porcupines can’t shoot quills but they don’t just sit there and wait for you to nom on them, either. I do not know the degree to which this is a learned behavior or a wired-in instinct. Have any of the rest of you seen a porcupine do anything like this?

    Since then, I keep a good distance from porcupines. I had a chance to photograph a very large one in my yard a few years ago. A couple times he came straight at me (fortunately, slowly) because he didn’t like paparrazi, apparently. He looked like he was trying for a tail-whack. It’s good strategy: I retreated very fast.

    My dogs had 2 run-ins with sticklepigs and one of them (Jake, the smart one) and Miles (the, unlucky one) got a lot of quills in him. It was an impressive defense and the boys learned “sticklepigs, bad” as a golden rule and never came within 20 feet of one again – though they’d bark like crazy until I came and checked it out and then we’d all walk away with our honor intact.

  5. kestrel says

    Love porcupines. The tail-whack strategy may explain something I’ve been puzzled about: a couple of times I’ve seen equines with pretty significant amounts of quills stuck in them. One was a horse which mostly had them in his nose/face area; the other was a (really really big) donkey with a lot of quills in her front legs. Although a dog might have enough prey-drive to keep going at one, that would not really be the case with an equine.

    We knew someone who fancied himself a “hunter” and yet would shoot at noises… (freaking idiot). He shot a porcupine that way and we gave him so much crap about it (telling him he should never kill something unless he planned to eat it), he finally felt so guilty he cooked and ate it. I can not speak for any other porcupine than this one; it tasted horrible. So yeah; my life experience is, stay far away from them and they make fantastic photographic subjects but really doubtful culinary ones.

  6. says

    kestrel@#8:
    they make fantastic photographic subjects

    Well… kinda.

    The tail-whack strategy may explain something I’ve been puzzled about: a couple of times I’ve seen equines with pretty significant amounts of quills stuck in them.

    Yup! It’s kind of an extra special “giddap!”

Leave a Reply