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Photo by Deb Brandes

Porcupine Mating Season

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This might come as a revelation to you, but it is that time of year for the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum.) Late last night as I was listening to the radio and saying goodnight to the flock, when a raucous noise from outside overpowered the music. I knew the sound and raced to see the sight: Two mature porcupines, twenty pounders, on the end of a 3 inch apple tree branch screaming obscenities’ at each other. I’m not sure if they were fighting or in love, its usually hard to tell!!

The mating rituals are somewhat bizarre, and quite prickly. The males compete and fight with vocalizations that can be very loud and unsettling in the middle of the night. It’s impossible to describe so this video give you an idea:

Mother porcupine has a long winter gestation, over 200 days! The young, called a porcupette, are born in spring and stay with mom for about six months. A interesting note about porcupettes is that they are born with soft quills that almost immediately harden after birth.

It was fun to get that close to this pair and they carried on for hours after I interrupted the excitement. Even got a smile…..

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