Porcupines Have a Sharp Appetite!

                            Porcupines Love this Pine Stand!

Giant Snow Covered Spruceporcupine dead

Above:  A large, snow-covered hemlock, left, and a porcupine in civilization, right.  Our porcupines love such pine cover.


Porcupines have been seemingly having no troubles eating in the forests around the cottage.  If some jobs are recession proof in our economy, then the porcupine seems hunger proof!  Its favorite thing to eat this winter has been the bark of cherry trees that are growing in or near pine stands. They will often strip the tree bark off quite efficiently–and they do not limit themselves to the striated and often peeling bark of cherry!  Some of these cherries were badly damaged by Super Storm Sandy and have been pushed over.


Above: Porcupine peelings on a cedar tree.  Some confuse this with antler damage from bucks during the rut. Don’t you be one of them!



Above:  Porcupines have no compunction against climbing these behemoths.


I followed one porcupine’s prints through an evergreen stand and its tracks disappeared at a 70 foot white pine.  While I looked diligently for him, the prickly little fellow was just too high up for me to see.  I have found porcupines to be most comfortable high above during the day–where they can keep a good eye on humans. I am reminded of the ‘possum in Cynthia Rylant’s book, The Van Gogh Café–it had a very gentle way, just like porcupines.  Porcupines have interesting tracks, too!



                   Above:  Porcupine tracks through a white pine  
           forest. (my running shoe is there for size comparison)


Like many animals, porcupines enjoy berries. It does seem that they are feasting on an assortment this winter, including the orange-colored bittersweet.


Their quills are of different lengths.  Most I have seen are deep vanilla- while some are black.  A few of the quills they use for camouflage have a smoky hue to them.  This helps them to blend into the forest and against the bark of trees in which they hide.


Above–the quills of a porcupine…just enough to spell, “Don’t Mess!”

Getting the quills stuck in you (or your dog’s nose), can be a painful experience.  And while porcupines are naturally retreating, do not attempt to touch them or you will pay the price!  Use common sense here.  I have seen some farmers hold their dogs still and use pliers to remove the quills–but clearly, a vet is the recommended professional should Rex or Fido get too curious!


The quills of the porcupine have a barbed structure on them and they will often get very deep before the victim (dog or human in this case), can get to vet or doctor.  Medical personal will remove the quills and clean up the wounds so that infection will not set in.


Porcupines give birth in the spring–and a cute sight it is to see them ambling through the forest as a family.  In my experience, the families are small–whether that is related to the amount they have to eat over the course of the year is something I have not studied.


I will end with this beautiful shot of a hemlock grove in New Jersey porcupine territory! This could be considered the “Porcupine Café.”  Peace…KM

hemlocks snow

 (all pictures are copyrighted property of Kerri Nicole McCaffrey)

Hi–I am the author of the poetry book:  In the Valley of Glow Trees.  If you like the outdoors and think nature is awesome, then you should try my book of poems! Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble…all the usual suspects.   Kerri NM


In the Valley of Glow Trees


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