Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Prickly Situation

Connor and I first noticed this porcupine sitting high up in this tree about 8 weeks ago.  The pictures are lousy because the camera is on full zoom, she really is up in the very top of the tree.

I wasn't terribly surprised to come across a porcupine, but I have been surprised that every time we go by this tree she is in the exact same spot.  I had taken to stopping by once a week or so just to say hi and it is very obvious that she has not moved out of this tree since I found her (I have no idea if 'she' is really a female, that is just my impression based on nothing other than that the belly looks rather bare).  We quit visiting all that often as I didn't want to bother her (although she doesn't seem to care much) and because, after weeks of living in this tree, the smell, even in sub-zero temps is astoundingly rank.  It's gotten so I can smell the tree over a thousand feet away.

What surprises me is that she has stayed up there for over two months through some truly awful weather.  I would think that a cozy den somewhere would be a much nicer spot to spend the winter, but every time we go by, there she is, perched on the same two spindly, little branches.  It's hard to see, but those branches she is straddling aren't even from the same tree.

I don't know all that much about porcupines other than that they are mostly nocturnal herbivores who eat a variety of plants, leaves, twigs and bark.  It is clear that this one moves around the tree a little bit, eating the twigs, but I can't see any sign that she has set foot on the ground since taking up residence. 

Unfortunately, the snow has gotten so deep that we can't get out there for a visit anymore.  Even with snowshoes, it's more than I want to do and it is far too deep for Connor.  I was kind of interested to see if she stayed up there all winter, but I guess we'll have to settle for stopping by come Spring to see if there is anything left of the tree. 


  1. Oh no. Connor, please don't...!

    1. I am trying to teach Connor to avoid these, or I was until we got umpteen feet of snow!

  2. Falls in the category of 'can't make this stuff up.' I hope she survives the winter.

  3. I hope she survives, also. Maybe she sleeps up there and prowls at night? Daisy (dog) yelped and came flying into the barn early one afternoon with her entire face covered with quills. Luckily, she stood perfectly still so Kevin could remove each one. It was also fortunate it had just happened, because she didn't have time to paw at them and imbed them further.
    We learned a lot that day. We had always heard that porcupines will launch their quills or slap their tails sending quills at a predator. They actually don't, and can't, do anything, the predator has to stick their nose right in there, causing the quills to poke into their face. If the porcupine or dog moves around, the dog is stuck with even more quills, into their neck, chest, wherever he's still making contact.

    Hopefully, Connor's curiosity is satisfied with long-distance viewing!

  4. I haven't seen a porcupine in so many years that I can't count! Wow! Those are some cool shots!
    I'll have to look up to see what I can on them....

  5. I didn't realize that porcupines climbed that high into trees! That's crazy