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.

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Binghamton Zoo Celebrates Arrival of New Porcupine


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. 



4_2015_animal_porcupine_baby2Photo Credits: Binghamton Zoo

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

Turtle Back Zoo Porcupine Baby

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.
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’


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



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!

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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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VirginiaZoo_prehensile-tailed porcupine_3Photo Credits: Virginia Zoo / (Image 2: Meg Puckett)

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

African Lion Cub_San Diego Zoo

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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Red Panda_Lincoln Children's Zoo


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!

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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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5 porcupettePhoto credits: Ryan Hawk / Woodland Park Zoo

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. 

Prehensile-tailed Porcupette Gets Special Care at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

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On August 28, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo welcomed a Prehensile-tailed Porcupine, born mom Emma and dad Wilbur. There are times, both in zoos and in the wild, when parents has trouble accepting or caring for their offspring. Keepers noticed that Emma was not feeding her baby, and so the male porcupette has been getting supplemental bottle feedings from animal care staff. The parents have stayed nearby and are begining to show signs of bonding with their baby. In the photos, the porcupette is shown bonding with his father for the very first time on October 30.

In the meantime, his keepers are taking good care of him. 

"He's a trooper," says Steve Kinczel, a veteran  keeper for The RainForest exhibit who has been bottle-feeding the baby. "He's had a good appetite from the beginning." Kinczel, who named the baby Eddie, said he is eating solid food now but his diet continues to be supplemented with bottle feeding four times a day. His diet includes carrots, sweet potatoes and greens along with some rodent chow.

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5 porcupinePhoto credits: Gus Chan/The Plain Dealer, Cleveland 1, 2; Cleveland Zoo 3-6

Click here to see a slideshow of many more wonderful photos of Eddie the porcupette, taken by photographer Gus Chan.

Prehensile-tailed Porcupines are born with their eyes open and claws fully formed. Their quills, which are soft at birth, harden in about a week. These porcupines, a group of species native to South America, are named for their special ability to grasp and hang from branches by their tails. 

Zoo Vienna Welcomes A Playful Porcupette

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Only a few weeks old and already thousands of quills! On August 4, Zoo Vienna welcomed a baby North American Porcupine. The porcupette is a female and weighed in at just about 1.3 pounds (600 g) at her first medical checkup. The gestation period for porcupines is relatively long, around seven months, so the juveniles are already well-developed at birth. They come into the world with eyes open and can run immediately. At just a few days old, the porcupette had started to practice climbing. Now at one month old, she still drinks milk but also nibbles on carrots, apples, beetroots, and branches. She will be weaned at one and a half months old. 

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Photo credits: Zoo Vienna

Although North American and European Porcupines might look very similar, they are actually not very closely related. North American Porcupines are the second largest New World rodent, after the North American Beaver. Commonly found from Alaska to Mexico, they are excellent albeit slow climbers and spend most of their lives in trees. These herbivores are crepuscular, meaning that they are mainly active at dawn and dusk.  A single North America Porcupine may have up to 30,000 barbed quills for self-defense. At birth, the quills of a porcupette are short and soft, but they harden after a few days.

Prickly Porcupette Delights at Zoo Berlin


Zoo Berlin in Germany has its hands full with a baby Porcupine, or porcupette, born on July 24. The gender is still unknown, and therefore the porcupette remains nameless. Though only a week old, the porcupette has large spines. Unlike the spines of their parents, however, a porcupette's spines are soft and harmless to their mothers during birth.


Mothers are protective of their babies. When danger is sensed, they puff up their spines, stamp their hind legs on the ground and rattle their hind legs. Because of their spines, nursing can be a challenge for Porcupines. Luckily, the mother's teets are located under her armpits.


 Photo Credit Zoo Berlin