Porcupines are considered large rodents. Porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) have been sighted recently in forested locations along the Missouri River.
The porcupine is noted for its quills and extremely long guard hairs on its back and tail. It can easily weigh more than 30 pounds and appears as big as a raccoon because of the length of the hair and quills. Their coloration is a mixture of black, white, and grey hairs combined with yellowish black tipped quills.
Porcupines inhabit forested ecosystems dominated with conifer trees. They seem to prefer areas of
rough terrain with hills and steep slopes over forested meadows or flatlands.
Porcupines are excellent climbers, able to move slowly and methodically up and down any
tree. They will seek refuge in trees whenever challenged. During colder conditions, a porcupine seldom moves from its forested den, however, in warmer weather they will migrate and travel great distances.
Porcupines are herbivores, feeding on succulent tree buds/candles, nuts, and berries, as well as the nutrient-rich inner bark. In the spring they will browse on ground vegetation and shrubs. The porcupine is attracted to salty items. Seeking salt porcupines will chew on axe handles, canoe paddles, outhouses, and even automobile radiator hoses. This is useful for those who want to attract them with bait for management or control. Males seek receptive females beginning in late summer. Females announce their readiness to breed by “screaming” from a tree top. Breeding takes place in early fall, with the peak of activity in September and October. The single young porcupine pup is born about seven months later in May. It usually nurses for one month and then begins to feed on vegetation. The young porcupine grows slowly compared to other rodents and becomes independent within a couple of months.
Most porcupine predators are also wild animals including bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes.
– Douglas-Sarpy County Extension Insider, September 2013


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