22 February, 2011

porcupines.... The Animal with Quills

cute baby porcupine on a tree
Porcupine is a small rodent like animal whose body is covered with long and sharp needle like quills.  Its name comes from the combination of two words meaning 'pig' and 'spines' which means a small pig like animal coved with spines or quills. 
Some of the porcupine's quills are attached in bunches while others are attached singly. Because of these quills the porcupines sometimes look very ferocious. They act as an important weapon to help it protect against enemies.

porcupice showing her quills to frighten an attacking tiger

 When threatened or faced with a challenging situation , a porcupine puffs out its quills. They easily come loose if touched and stick in an enemy's skin. They can cause injuries and painful wounds and may even kill if they make their way into vital organs or cause infection.
There are about as many as 25 species of porcupine, divided into Old World and New World porcupines.
an adult porcupine in the zoo cage

Old World porcupines include the crested porcupines of Africa, Asia and Europe. Long-tailed porcupines live in Asia. Brush-tailed porcupines are mainly common in Asia and Africa.
 Porcupines like to live in a variety of home made in tree branches and roots, hollow logs, burrows, and caves. Old World species like to stay on the ground mainly.
Baby porcupines have very soft quills when they're born, kind of like cooked spaghetti but they stiffen quickly after the baby is born.
mother porcupine carressing her baby

Porcupines are most active at night. They eat almost any part of the tree they can reach including the hard bark or stem. Some of the porcupines are extremely choosy for food i.e the North American porcupines prefer a tender layer beneath the bark. In trying to get at it, they may chew away the bark in a ring, which kills the tree. Porcupines sometimes gnaw antlers and wooden tools and handles of different things from the hand of a saucepan to the paddles of a boat. It likes to gnaw at it for the sake of salt and oil they contain.

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