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Porcupine Feet Designed for Climbing

porcupine foot IMG_2659Porcupines spend a lot of their life climbing on and clinging to trees due to their woody diet. In addition to strong, curved nails that fit into bark crevices, the soles of their feet have a pebbly surface with very little fur. The bumpy texture increases the surface area and the friction when a porcupine’s feet are in contact with a branch, helping the porcupine hold onto the tree trunk and branches. Even so, examination of porcupine skeletons confirms that many have fractures that have healed, indicating that a significant number of porcupines, while their bodies are adapted for climbing, still experience falls during their lifetime. (Photos: porcupine footpad; insert – porcupine footpad in fisher scat)

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7 responses

  1. Dennis Smith

    Great picture of his/her foot!

    Happy New Year. Am about to make a donation, please, others reading this comment, do so as well.

    January 8, 2015 at 5:24 pm

  2. Marilyn

    Critters’ feet can be very interesting. One doesn’t often get an intimate look at the marvelous adaptations.

    January 8, 2015 at 7:12 pm

  3. Louise Garfield

    How thick are the footpads? And, do porcupines hibernate?
    Happy New, Cold Year!

    January 8, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    • Hi Louise,
      The footpads are fairly thick – as you can see, they were pretty much intact in the fisher scat. Porcupines are active year round, and it’s easiest to find them in the winter. Head for a stand of hemlocks and look for branch tips on top of the snow – a sign that porcupines have been eating tender hemlock buds and dropping the branches. Their dens, in hollow logs or rocky outcrops, tend to have piles of scat near their entrances, and paths in the snow to their feeding trees.

      January 8, 2015 at 9:26 pm

  4. Always interesting! Thanks, Mary.

    January 9, 2015 at 2:46 am

  5. Oliver

    Interesting photograph; It reminds me of Frank C. Hibben’s account of the cougar of Mingus Mt. that specialized in killing porcupines and had the peculiar disposition of devouring them feet first.

    September 8, 2016 at 6:42 am

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