Porcupine

Porcupette Pokes About at Bronx Zoo

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A North American Porcupine was born April 24 at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo and is now on exhibit with his family in the newly renovated Children’s Zoo.

The male porcupette was born to mother, Alice, and father, Patrick, and this is the pair’s fourth offspring.

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_8294_North American Porcupine_CZ_BZ_05 20 16Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS’s Bronx Zoo

The North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), also known as the Canadian Porcupine or Common Porcupine, is a large rodent in the New World Porcupine family. The beaver is the only rodent in North America that is larger than the North American Porcupine.

The Porcupine’s most recognizable physical characteristic is its spiky quills. They can have as many as 30,000 quills covering their bodies and use them as a defense against predators. Despite popular belief, Porcupines cannot shoot their quills. The quills of the North American Porcupine have a tiny barb on the tip that, when hooked in flesh, pull the quill from the Porcupine’s skin and painfully imbed it in a predator’s face, paws or body.

Gestation lasts for 202 days. Porcupines give birth to a single young. At birth, they weigh about 450 g, which increases to nearly 1 kg after the first two weeks. They do not gain full adult weight until about two years old.

At birth, the quills are very soft. They begin to harden a few hours after birth and continue to harden and grow as the baby matures.

Female Porcupines provide all the maternal care. For the first two weeks, the young rely on their mother for sustenance. After this, they learn to climb trees and start to forage. They continue to nurse for up to four months, which coincides with the fall mating season. They stay close to their mothers.

The North American Porcupine is listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. It is common throughout its range, except in some U.S. states in the southeast part of its range. However, they are threatened by hunting and habitat loss. As of 1994, it was listed as an endangered species in Mexico.


Binghamton Zoo Has a Lucky 'Clover'

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The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park, in New York, is proud to announce the birth of a Prehensile-tailed Porcupine on March 17 to second-time parents Mattie and Zoey.

In honor of its day of birth, St. Patrick’s Day, the porcupette has been named Clover!

This birth is a major success for the Prehensile-tailed Porcupine’s Species Survival Plan. Mattie arrived at the Binghamton Zoo in November 2014, under recommendations from the SSP as a breeding candidate for Zoey. Mattie and Zoey successfully had Norwan on Father’s Day 2015 and now are caring for their newest addition.

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Photo Credits: Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park

Each SSP carefully manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining captive population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. The Binghamton Zoo is proud to be a contributor to the captive population and is eager to continue participating in the program.

Zoo officials have been monitoring the progress of the porcupine and its parents. Weighing in at 410 grams, the baby has progressively gained weight since birth. The porcupine will not be sexed for several more weeks.

Porcupines are not born with sharp or barbed quills. Instead, the quills are soft and bendable, gradually hardening in the first few days after birth. Their quills will reach maturity after ten weeks. They are dependent on mother for nutrition the first four weeks after birth, eventually foraging for other food sources and will then be completely weaned at 15 weeks.

Prehensile-tailed Porcupines are found in South America. They feed on the bark of trees, buds, fruits, roots, stems, leaves, blossoms, seeds, and crops like corn and bananas.

The new porcupine is currently on exhibit with parents, Zoey and Mattie, and sister Norwan-- in the New World Tropics building.


Meet the National Zoo's Newest (and Prickliest) Baby

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On October 5, Smithsonian’s National Zoo welcomed its newest (and prickliest) baby: Charlotte, the Prehensile-tailed Porcupine!

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23573662281_6acbefd0a8_kPhoto Credit:  Jen Zoon/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Whenever the zoo welcomes a baby animal, keepers work closely with veterinarians and nutrition staff to ensure newborns are healthy. For Charlotte, this meant regular weigh-ins to ensure that she was nursing and gaining weight. Vets gave her a clean bill of health during her first wellness exam, but then she began to lose weight. The animal care team determined that Charlotte was not able to nurse properly and was therefore not receiving enough milk.

The zoo’s nutrition staff created a formula using a mixture of puppy milk replacer, exotic milk replacer,  and egg whites, which resembled the composition of North American Porcupine milk. Once they were able to express milk from Charlotte’s mother, nutrition staff compared it to the formula to ensure Charlotte was getting the nutrition she needed.

To manage Charlotte’s dietary and medical needs, zoo vets surgically inserted an esophagostomy tube and fed her formula every three hours, around the clock, for five days. The feeding tube was removed on November 11 because Charlotte was consistently eating all of her diet by mouth. Today, at 2.8 pounds, Charlotte is healthy and developing normally.

Native to the forests of South America, Prehensile-tailed Porcupines feed on leaves, flowers, and tree bark.  Their prehensile (grasping) tails are not covered in spines and help these animals climb about in trees.  When threatened, these rodents curl into a ball, erecting their spines to appear larger and more intimidating.  They cannot shoot their spines (nor can any Porcupine), but the spines are loosely attached and can become painfully embedded in an attacker.


Bronx Zoo Announces Birth of Porcupette

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A North American Porcupine was born at Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo

The young male was born on July 28 to mother, Alice, and father, Patrick.  This is the pair’s third offspring, and the family is currently on exhibit in the zoo’s newly renovated Children’s Zoo.

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_1981_North American Porcupines and Porcupette_CZ_BZ_08 10 15Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS's Bronx Zoo

The North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is a large rodent whose most recognizable physical characteristic are its spiky quills. They can have as many as 30,000 quills covering their bodies. The quills are modified hairs that are sharp, barbed hollow spines. They are used primarily for defense but also serve to insulate the body during winter. Despite popular belief, porcupines cannot shoot their quills, but when threatened, the porcupine contracts the muscles near the skin which causes the quills to stand up and out. The quills have a tiny barb on the tip that, when hooked in flesh, pull the quill from the porcupine’s skin and painfully imbed in the predators skin.

Porcupines are herbivores and eat leaves, twigs, and green plants. In winter, they may also eat tree bark.

Female porcupines are solitary, except during the fall breeding season. They have a long gestation period that lasts for 202 days and typically give birth to just one offspring. Baby porcupines (porcupette) weigh about 450 grams at birth. At birth, the quills are very soft but begin to harden a few hours after birth. The quills continue to harden and grow as the baby matures.

Continue reading "Bronx Zoo Announces Birth of Porcupette" »


Binghamton Zoo Celebrates Arrival of New Porcupine

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The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park, in New York, is proud to announce the arrival of a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine. The porcupette was born on Father’s Day, June 21.

Weighing in at 400 grams, the baby has progressively gained weight since birth. Once the sex is determined, a name will be announced. For now, the young porcupine is being monitored by zoo staff and is bonding with mom, Zoey, and dad, Mattie. 

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The birth of this porcupine is a major success for the Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine’s Species Survival Plan. The father, Mattie, came to the Binghamton Zoo in November 2014, under recommendations from the SSP as a breeding candidate for Zoey. Each SSP carefully manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining captive population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

Baby porcupines (also known as porcupettes) are not born with sharp or barbed quills. Instead, the porcupette’s quills are soft and bendable, gradually hardening in the first few days after birth. Their quills will reach maturity after 10 weeks. They are dependent on the mother for nutrition the first 4 weeks after birth, eventually foraging for other food sources. They are completely weaned at 15 weeks.

These porcupines have a prehensile tail that allows them to grasp branches for balance. They also have long, curved claws that enable excellent climbing abilities. They spend most of their time in trees and will den in tree nests, rock crevices, brush, logs, and tangled tree roots.

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are native to South America. They feed on the bark of trees, buds, fruits, roots, stems, leaves, blossoms, seeds, and crops like corn and bananas. At the zoo, the porcupines’ diet consists of yams, carrots, greens, and leaf eater biscuits.

The porcupette is currently on exhibit with its parents, Zoey and Mattie, in the New World Tropics building.


Turtle Back Zoo Welcomes Baby Porcupine Just in Time for Mother’s Day

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The Turtle Back Zoo, in West Orange, NJ has some exciting news to announce! Mommy Porcupine Becky has given birth to a baby Porcupine- otherwise known as a porcupette! Born on April 16, 2015 both mother and baby are now officially on exhibit, just in time for Mother's Day.
 
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Photo credits: 1 & 3 Jeff Stiefbold, 2 The Essex County Turtle Back Zoo
 
While their Latin name technically means “quill pig,” Porcupines are actually rodents. These sharp dressed mammals are covered with soft hair as well as quills, which are really modified hairs that stand up when a Porcupine feels threatened. Not only does this make the Porcupine look larger, but it also delivers a prickly poke to a predator who gets too close. Sharp, strong teeth allow these herbivores to crack open nuts and eat barks, roots, fruits and leaves. There are about 12 different porcupine species, and they can be found in North, Central and South America; Southern Europe; Asia; and regions of Africa.

New Guy at Staten Island Zoo ‘Gets to the Point’

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Staten Island Zoo is home to a new African Crested Porcupette!

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Photo Credits: Staten Island Zoo

The male was born in early January and was donated to Staten Island Zoo by the Bright’s Zoo, in Tennessee, on recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program.  The new guy has been given the African name, ‘Bintu’, which means “precious/beautiful one”.

The African Crested Porcupine is the largest rodent in Africa. It lives in hilly, rocky habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Italy. “Porcupine” comes from the Latin ‘porcus’ for pig and ‘spina’ for spine. The name was given based on their appearance, as porcupines are not related to pigs.

Porcupines primarily eat roots, tubers, bark and fallen fruit. They are also known to eat cultivated root crops, and they are considered agricultural pests in some areas.

Wild predators include owls, leopards, and pythons. The porcupine warns predators to retreat by stamping their feet, clicking teeth, growling or hissing, and raising their quills and vibrating them to produce a rattling sound. If the predator doesn't retreat, the porcupine will run backwards and ram their attacker with the quills. Scales on the quill tips lodge in the skin of the predators, much like a fishhook, and become difficult to remove.

Crested Porcupines are terrestrial. They seldom climb trees, but they are able to swim. They are also nocturnal and monogamous. Porcupines prefer to reside, solitarily, among roots and rocks, and will often inhabit holes made by other animals. They reserve the use of burrows for larger family units.

Female Crested Porcupines will, generally, have only one litter per year. After a gestation period of about 66 days, one or two well developed young will be born in a chamber within a family burrow. The young weigh about 1,000 grams (2.2 lbs), at birth. They will leave the den, under adult supervision, about one week, after birth. Crested Porcupines reach adult weight (13-27 kg or 29-60 lbs.) at one to two years of age, and they are often sexually mature just before then.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

More adorable pics, below the fold!

Continue reading "New Guy at Staten Island Zoo ‘Gets to the Point’" »


Prickly Situation for Porcupine Newborn

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On December 6, 2014, a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine was born, on exhibit, at the Virginia Zoo. 

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After several days of close observations, animal care and veterinary staff were not comfortable with the level of care that first-time mom,‘Cayenne’, was giving the youngster, so after much internal discussion as well as consultation from experts at the National Zoo, it was decided to remove the baby from the parents and hand-rear it.  The baby is yet to be named and its sex is not physically able to be determined at this point.

The birth of this unique animal illustrates the Virginia Zoo’s breeding and conservation success. This birth is significant because it provides opportunities for Zoo staff and visitors to learn more about these unique animals and their role in our world. It also helps to maintain and support a healthy and self-sustaining population that is genetically diverse and demographically stable.

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are native to Central and South America. They are closely related to other Neotropical tree porcupines. Aside from their unspined prehensile tails, their other notable features are: front and hind feet modified for grasping, enabling them to be adept climbers.

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It’s All About that Pumpkin

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Pumpkins are everywhere, this time of year! They make great pies, Jack-O-Lanterns, and pretty awesome enrichment toys for zoo animals. Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

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Photo Credits: Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Image 1: African Lion Cub); Amiee Stubbs Photography (Image 2: "Charlie" the Porcupine at Nashville Zoo); Lincoln Children's Zoo (Image 3: "Lincoln" the Red Panda); ZooAmerica (Image 4: "Rainier" the Mountain Lion); Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn (Image 5: Elephants); Sue Ogrocki (Images 6-Gorilla,7-Red River Hogs,10-Galapagos Tortoise at Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens); Minnesota Zoo (Image 8: Lynx); The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens (Image 9: Meerkats)

More great pumpkin pics below the fold!

Continue reading "It’s All About that Pumpkin" »


Shy Porcupette Gets a Treat at Woodland Park Zoo

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The smallest new arrival at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle is a female North American Porcupine, born April 4 in the zoo's Northern Trail exhibit. The baby porcupine, called a porcupette, was born to Molly and Oliver, both three-year-old residents of Northern Trail. This is their second offspring. 

Porcupettes are born with a soft coat of quills that begins to harden within hours of birth. This immediately protects them from predators. Keepers handle the baby carefully, using thick gloves to avoid a handful of quills. She has doubled her weight the past couple of weeks, currently weighing just over 2 pounds. 

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Deanna Ramirez, a collection manager at the zoo, explained that the porcupette has access all day and night to the porcupine exhibit in the Northern Trail but prefers spending most of her time exploring in a den behind the scenes.

“She grooms herself a lot and is experimenting with different solid foods, such as leafeater biscuits and different types of browse (plant materials). I think our visitors will begin seeing her more frequently on exhibit as she becomes more active and curious.” 

Porcupettes become active quickly and, as natural tree dwellers, their climbing instincts take hold within weeks of delivery. Climbing makes foraging easier for the young, and they exercise these skills early in their development as they wean themselves from mom and transition to an herbivorous diet of leaves, twigs and bark.