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Porcupines Entering Winter Dens

porcupine IMG_2597During the summer, porcupines are almost always found out in the open. At the end of October/beginning of November porcupines den up for the winter in the Northeast, with up to a dozen porcupines sharing the same den. While some adult males will spend days at a time in a conifer, most porcupines seek out rocky crevices in which to spend the day, with a smaller number finding shelter in hollow trees. Porcupines are hardy creatures – while dens do protect porcupines from heat loss, they contain no insulation, the entrances are open and the porcupines don’t huddle together for warmth. In addition, porcupines emerge from their dens to feed at night, when outside temperatures are lowest. (And yes, that is porcupine scat that is stuck in/on the porcupine’s quills.)

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7 responses

  1. Kathie Fiveash

    How fascinating that they share their winter quarters! I’ve sometimes seen a den, with piles of porcupine scat outside, and always thought it was from one porky.

    October 24, 2014 at 11:31 am

  2. On the rocky ridges around my home, there are dens with piles of scat outside. I can always smell them before I see them. 😉 It looks like great fertilizer, but is too far to lug home to my garden!

    October 24, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    • I’ve had the very same thought, Eliza (about using it as fertilizer — and I, too, can smell a den before I see it! I actually don’t mind the smell, to tell you the truth. Very distinctive!

      October 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      • Ha! very distinctive, indeed. Herbivore manure smells better than carnivores by a long shot. I even like cow manure- must be the gardener in me knowing its potential goodness!

        October 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm

  3. Have you ever smelled deer urine in the snow? Very pine-y and quite appealing, believe it or not. At least to me…

    October 24, 2014 at 11:09 pm

  4. David

    This is less related: Is Vermont or NH or Maine having the same irruption of Juncos that we in the Adirondacks are? Flocks and flocks and flocks and flocks along the roads starting Thursday!!!

    October 24, 2014 at 11:26 pm

  5. etymologist

    Hmmm . . . I wonder why they don’t huddle together for warmth?

    October 25, 2014 at 2:37 am

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