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Porcupine Preyed Upon By Coyotes

2-15-16 dead porcupine  086Coyote tracks from several directions coalesced in a spot where the frozen skin of a porcupine lay. There was not one morsel of flesh, and next to no bone, left inside the skin, which had partially been turned inside out.  Inspection of the porcupine’s head confirmed the likelihood that coyotes were responsible, as fishers, notable porcupine predators, kill their prey by repeatedly attacking a porcupine’s head, and the head of this porcupine was unscathed (see insert). The only other possible predators would be a bobcat or a great horned owl, and there were no signs of either present. While it is possible that the porcupine died a natural death and opportunistic coyotes took advantage of an easy meal, it appeared to be in good condition, and thus it is equally or more likely that coyotes succeeded in gaining access to the porcupine’s vulnerable, quill-less belly, and successfully attacked and ate it.

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7 responses

  1. This is such a timely piece for me! We have a collection of track stamps for kids at our school to use to create track stories, and there is one for a porcupine, but no fisher track stamp. So I had just been wondering if there were any other predators than fishers that would successfully prey on porcupines, when this post arrived in my Inbox… Thanks, once again, Mary!

    February 16, 2016 at 8:58 am

    • I’m so glad to have helped you out, Dell!

      February 16, 2016 at 9:20 am

  2. dawn

    Neill Bovaird commented yesterday that porcupines can fairly easily fall to their death, while climbing out towards tips of branches in taller trees, and having a few pounds to them. Another in the group responded that they in fact had found an in tact dead porcupine before as well, and had been confused about cause of death. I’d wonder if the snow would have broken their fall some though, if this were the case at the moment. It has for me a few times in the last weeks!

    February 16, 2016 at 9:34 am

    • Yes, I’ve read that something like 30% of porcupines have broken bones from falls – very possibly this one fell, making it more vulnerable!

      February 16, 2016 at 10:03 am

  3. k

    Awww…. I hope his death was quick.

    February 16, 2016 at 10:30 am

  4. Elizabeth

    Inebriation is another thing that can make porcupines vulnerable. We hosted a spiny visitor in late fall stumbling drunkenly about for days eating fermented apples from under our tree. With our low snow-cover this winter some of fermented fruits
    may still be available.

    February 16, 2016 at 11:33 am

  5. Nothing wasted in the circle of life.

    February 16, 2016 at 2:20 pm

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