Zoo Boise Welcomes a Healthy, Prickly Porcupette

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Zeus and Athena, a pair of North American Porcupines at Zoo Boise, had a porcupette on April 8th. The male baby hasn't been named yet. He is doing very well under the care of his mother Athena, and is on exhibit at the zoo. He weighed 517 grams at birth, and had gained 300 grams by his checkup just two weeks later. 

The little male is the second porcupette to be born at Zoo Boise: in July 2012, Olympus ("Oly") was born to the same pair. Mostly arboreal, Athena spends most of her day sleeping in the trees while her baby stays on the ground. She comes down to care for him and to sleep near him at night. Within a few weeks, the porcupette will begin to eat vegetation and will learn to climb trees with her. 

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Photo credits: Zoo Boise

Porcupettes are born with open eyes and soft quills which harden within thirty minutes after birth.  Contrary to popular belief, porcupines do no shoot or throw their quills as a defense.  When attacked, a porcupine will tuck its head between its front paws and turn so their quills face the attacker. The hollow air-filled quills fall out of the porcupine’s skin easily.  One North American porcupine can have as many as 30,000 quills.

Prickly Porcupette a Surprise for Woodland Park Zoo


Sometimes zoo babies are a surprise, and that’s exactly what happened when Molly, a North American Porcupine, surprised keepers at the Woodland Park Zoo by delivering a male porcupette (the actual name for a baby Porcupine) on April 18.

Molly and her mate Oliver joined Woodland Park Zoo in June 2011 shortly after their second birthdays. At such a young age, zookeepers expected that Oliver was a year shy of sexual maturity, but Oliver wasn’t paying attention to the zoo keepers’ timetable. As keepers look back, they now realize that Molly became pregnant in September, giving her a seven-month gestation period before birthing the pair’s first baby.




Photo Credit:  Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

A porcupette is born with a full coat and open eyes, in contrast to many other rodents. Within hours of birth its soft coat of quills begins to harden, immediately preparing it for protection from predators. The baby becomes active quickly and—as a natural tree dweller—its climbing instincts take hold within weeks of delivery. That climbing ability will come in handy as the youngster weans itself from mom and transitions to an herbivorous diet of leaves, twigs, and bark.

Molly and the newborn are currently in an off-exhibit den, though Molly sometimes leaves to stretch her legs in their exhibit. In the wild, a mother Porcupine would leave the newborn to nest in a safe area on the ground and she would retreat to the trees for food and shelter.

In the warmth of their den box, the pair nuzzles close to one another until the porcupette breaks free from her embrace and explores their shared space. Time and time again, Molly will swoop her paws beneath his belly and pull him back to her chest for what looks like a Porcupine hug. 

Shy North American Porcupette Weighs In at Zoo Magdeburg

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There's a spikey new addition to Zoo Magdeburg's family of North American Porcupines: a porcupette, whose sex is still undetermined, was born on April 1st. Recently, the shy porcupette sat quietly on a scale to be weighed, but scurried back to mom as soon as the adventure was over. The baby weighed a healthy 870 grams. Fully grown, North American Porcupines will weigh from five to ten kilograms. 

In addition to the newborn, Zoo Magdeburg has two adult females and one adult male, which live in an exhibit with Black-tailed Prairie Dogs. The zoo's first successful breeding occured in 2003, with the offspring now living at Duisburg Zoo. 

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Photo Credits: Zoo Magdeburg

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Prickly New Baby Arrives at Stone Zoo


The Stone Zoo, part of Zoo New England, recently welcomed a few new members to their collection. Among them, was a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine that was born just over a month ago on February 16th. The little one was born to mother Comica (14) and father Elvis (6), after a gestation of roughly six and half months. The breeding was a result of a recommendation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine Species Survival Plan, which aims to conserve the species. 

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are born with the eyes already wide open, and are able to use their unique prehensile tails, which are used to grip various objects, right away. Babies have dense coats of reddish hair and sharp quills that are around 15 millimeters long. Not surprisingly, there isn't a whole lot of contact between the prickly mother and offspring, and the two only typically come together when it is time for the baby to nurse.  


Photo credits: Stone Zoo

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are native to Central and South America. They live primarily arboreal lives, and use their prehensile tail to help them navigate through the forest canopy. In the trees, they forge for their vegetarian diet of flowers, leaves, shoots, and a special cambium layer that can be found beneath the bark of certain trees. When threatened, porcupines will curl up into a ball and shake their spines vigorously to fend off potential attackers. 

Name the Christmas Porcupette Born at Linton Zoo

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Just when the staff at Linton Zoo thought that they were done with baby animal births for the year, they were delighted to discover this tiny bundle on the 10th of December, sporting more prickles than a Christmas tree! The baby African Crested Porcupine was born to first-time mom Halla and dad Henry, who are proving to be the perfect parents, regularly feeding and grooming the little porcupette and keeping it nice and warm under the heat lamp. The gestation period is approximately 112 days and a baby is born looking just like a miniature adult.

And now the public has been invited to suggest names on Linton Zoo's Facebook page. Since the baby's gender is not yet known, they ask for names that are suitable for either a male or female. The person who suggests the chosen name will receive an annual sponsorship of the porcupette. A sponsorship pack can be mailed anywhere in the world. 

African Crested Porcupines come from Sub-saharan Africa and live in rocky outcrops and hills. They are nocturnal and spend most of the day sleeping, waking occasionally to eat. Their quills, which are simply modified hairs, detach easily, giving rise to the myth that they ‘fire’ the quills... but that is untrue. If a predator approaches, the Porcupine will rattle the hollow quills in its tail, followed by a series of growls, grunts and foot-stomping. Only if this fails to deter the attacker will it charge backwards to impale the threat with their spikes. 

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Photo Credit: Linton Zoo

Naturally the new arrival is proving to be bit of a distraction. Due to infrared lamps, it’s easy for staff to see into the nest box without the porcupines knowing they are there. They find it fascinating to watch the interaction between the parents and their new baby. Both Mom and Dad are very attentative, especially Henry, who’s often left to babysit while Halla goes forraging for food.

Watch this video to see for yourself; it shows how really tiny the porcupette is!

Chester Zoo Porcupettes Have Their First Check-up

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Two baby Porcupines have had their first ever health check-ups at Chester Zoo. The African Crested Porcupines, named Stempu and Noko, were born on September 1 and 4 respectively, to mom Roxie and dad Nungu. 

Keepers gave the duo a physical examination, inserted microchips and took their weights during the routine checks. 
Keeper Chris Grindle, seen here, said, “We're very pleased to say that both of our spiky new arrivals are in great shape. Noko tipped the scales at 865g (1.9 pounds) while Stempu was a little heavier at 1075g (2.4 pounds). Both look to be very healthy indeed and so we are extremely pleased with them – as are our visitors judging by their reactions when they see them.” 

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

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Prehensile-tailed Porcupette Born at St. Augustine Alligator Farm

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The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park announced their first ever birth of a Prehensile-tailed Porcupine (Coendou prehensilis). She's been named Pollie. Olivier, the Porcupette’s father, has been at the zoo since 1998 and is a star education animal. His mate, Miss Piggy, arrived in 2010 as a breeding companion and to ease Ollie’s show schedule.

In late 2011, Miss Piggy’s weight began to steadily increase. The zoo’s veterinary staff attempted to perform a couple of voluntary ultrasounds during her pregnancy, but due to normal gas pockets within a porcupine’s abdomen, they were unsuccessful in viewing the growing baby. After a gestation of roughly 203 days, the uncomfortable mother finally gave birth on August 2to a baby weighing just about 12 ounces (396 grams). She was covered with long, soft, reddish quills at birth, but the thicker, sharper adult quills quickly began to appear.

Prehensile-tailed Porcupines are listed as a species of Least Concern due to their wide distribution across northern South America and a presumed large population. Just over 100 individuals live within AZA zoos.  Ollie and Miss Piggy were one of twenty-two pairs recommended to breed by the Species Coordinator.



Photo Credit: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

Introducing Pip the Porcupine Pup

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust recently welcomed a baby African Crested Porcupine named Pippa or Pip for short. Baby porcupines are called "porcupettes" and their quills are soft for the first few days. However in adulthood this porcupine's quills provide a potent defensive weapon. When threatened, this species turns away from its aggressor, stamps its little feet, then charges rear-end first with its sturdiest quills sticking straight out. Doesn't look like Pip or mom have too much to be upset about though in salad paradise.

Newborn porcupine Pippa Credit Colm Farrington

Newborn porcupine Pippa Credit Colm Farrington20Photo credits: Colm Farrington