Porcupines are found all over the world, but the most common species in North America is the North American Porcupine. This rodent is second in size only to the beaver and can be found anywhere from the Arctic Ocean to northern Mexico. They measure between 23 and 36 inches long with brown to black bodies and are covered in a spiny coat. These spines are called quills and are the one trait porcupines are most notable for. The quills serve as a barbed shield against predators and can also be driven into attackers if the animal feels threatened. In the wild, porcupines have an average lifespan of 18 years and are primarily herbivores. These prickly pests will normally eat leaves, roots, wood, bark, seeds, grain, fruit and flowers. Mating occurs between October and November. and are actually considered a rodent. They are second in size only to the beaver.
Porcupine Nuisances & Damage
These creatures become bothersome to humans because of their need to chew. Porcupines have a particular fondness for salt, so they will often gnaw of housing structures, cars, or anything made of plywood. These items tend to have salt stuck to them (often the type used in de-icing) and the porcupines can’t get enough of it. These spiny scavengers also enjoy feeding on trees. They will strip away bark and end up severely damaging the tree. This is of particular concern in the lumber industry, as severely gnawed and gnarled logs are rendered unusable. If you have flower or vegetable gardens, porcupines also have no problem uprooting these plants to feast on them. You might hear loud chewing noises or the chattering of teeth when they are confronted. They’ll cut and gnaw on twigs throughout your yard. Some trees may also be missing bark. Porcupine droppings are found around their dens. Their tracks will resemble long claw marks, as well as a dragging tail.
Types of Porcupine
Porcupines are usually broken up into two categories -- Old World or New World (Hystricidae or Erethizontidae). They are both very similar in appearance. Old World porcupines inhabit Africa and Asia, while New World porcupines are primarily found in the Americas. Specific species include the North American Porcupine, Brazilian Porcupine, Dwarf Porcupine, Bush-Tailed Porcupine, or Crested Porcupine.
Porcupines are most commonly identified by their quills. Some porcupines can have upwards of 30,000 quills on them. They have dark brown to black, round bodies. Their heads are small and they have hairless-soled feet that are great for climbing trees.
Porcupines In The Yard & The Garden
These critters live in a variety of different places and climates, so it’s very possible that they live in your neighborhood. They can be found in tundra, deciduous forests, and even in deserts. You’ll often see them hanging out in trees or scampering across your yard in search of food. Trees are their preferred resting spot, however, as they provide shelter from predators and a place to den.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I keep porcupines away?
If you want to keep your plants safe, placing a fence around the border of your garden that is enhanced by electricity will help. Porcupines will climb fences, but placing a strip at the top of this fence at a 65-degree angle on top of the fencing will discourage them. Placing small trees in wire baskets before planting will stop porcupines from gnawing at their bark. Repellents and traps are also effective and can be purchased at your local hardware store. If you have a persistent problem with these pests, contacting a professional removal agency may provide you with other alternatives.
Benefits of Professional Porcupine Pest Control
A pest management professional has the education, equipment and skills necessary to effectively address a porcupine problem. Finding and treating the porcupines can be challenging, especially if they are loose in your yard. A pest management professional provides their expertise to identify the pest problem and determine the best possible solution to resolve the porcupine nuisance.