Alex: Not Your Average Porcupette
June 09, 2013
Alex, a female Prehensile-tailed Porcupine born at the
Buffalo Zoo in April, is not your average porcupette. For example, she is awake most of the day
(Porcupines are typically nocturnal) and she spends a lot of time with keepers
(Porcupines are not always so friendly).
Photo Credit: Kelly Brown
Alex is being hand-reared by her keepers due to concerns about the health of her mother, Taco Belle, also known as Belle. Belle has reliably had babies every six to eight months for the last several years. But before Alex was born, keepers noticed that Belle was losing weight. It was determined that she had a problem with her teeth and had trouble eating. Even though Belle’s problem has been resolved, keepers felt that nursing a porcupette would cause Belle to lose more weight, so the baby was removed for hand-rearing.
Zoo keepers plan to utilize Alex as an animal ambassador in keeper talks and demonstrations. They’ll soon have to start using gloves to handle Alex: the soft red fur of her babyhood is being supplemented with sharp quills as she grows.
Prehensile-tailed Porcupines are native to Central and South America. They are skilled climbers and feed on fruits, leaves, shoots, and other plant material.