Prickly New Baby Arrives at Stone Zoo
March 26, 2013
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.
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.