An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Porcupine Trails

1-12-18 mystery photo 049A2042Porcupines are forced to exert a lot of effort if they are in need of food and the snow is deep. Unlike many rodents that are light enough to travel on top of the snow, Porcupines must plow their way through it. Their weight, short legs, and bare footpads make traveling in snow challenging, to say the least.

If the snow is deep, the winter ranges of Porcupines are considerably smaller (18 acres in one research study) than their summer ranges (160 acres in same study).  Because of the energy needed to travel through the snow, Porcupines usually feed just a short distance from their winter dens, more often than not within 200 feet. Their feeding trails from rocky or hollow tree dens to their woody food sources (often Eastern Hemlock-note bits of branches on snow in photo, American Beech and Sugar Maple), are very distinctive. They are used every night when Porcupines leave their dens to feed and again several hours later when they return.  These trails become well marked with urine, and less frequently with scat and quills. (Photo insert: Porcupine rock den entrance)

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

7 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    Thanks, Mary…lots of imteresting facts…would love to see one..from a distance.

    January 12, 2018 at 9:22 am

    • Not much of a distance. They are slow and do not “throw” quills. All they do is whip their tail from side to side and that’s it.

      January 12, 2018 at 9:01 pm

  2. timirvin

    Yet again, I learned a couple new things. Love reading these posts.

    January 12, 2018 at 9:24 am

  3. Micky McKinley

    Thanks for confirming my observation of porkie trails. I have one living under my porch and I enjoying seeing the trails it leaves. I feel like I have a companion.

    January 12, 2018 at 10:10 am

  4. You are a mind reader! Just yesterday I was puzzling over the trail in the snow, and this morning your blog had the answer! Once again, your blog is amazing! THANKS!

    January 12, 2018 at 11:51 am

  5. Very interesting. Thanks very much.

    January 12, 2018 at 2:08 pm

  6. Always interesting.

    January 12, 2018 at 9:03 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s