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Porcupine Sign

Two inches of snow is enough for even the casual observer to be able to find signs of wildlife in the forest.  This hollow tree occasionally serves as a den for a female porcupine in which she rests during the day before heading out at night to feed on nearby hemlock leaves and buds. Porcupines make no effort to leave their den when they urinate or defecate, so eventually it builds up on the floor of the den and spills out onto the ground. You can see porcupine scat sprinkled over the snow (having fallen from the den entrance above) and if you look closely you’ll see several icicles near the lighter patch of wood on the tree trunk.  One whiff confirmed that they were none other than frozen porcupine urine.

3 responses

  1. Mary, I’ve heard that porcupines sometimes chew on rock; is this true? Looking at their sparkly scat, I can sometimes believe it. I tried googling it, but only found an essay on Crested Porcupines’ rock-chewing habits, nothing on the North American Porcupine.

    December 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm

  2. Hi Kellyann,
    In none of my reading about porcupines have I ever come across what you mention. If you pick apart their scat, you’ll see that it really is all woody fiber. I would welcome any input from anyone who knows differently, but I can almost promise you that rocks are not beaver-incisor sharpeners — hard wood and each other seem to keep their four front incisors adequately chisel-shaped!

    December 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm

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