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Porcupine Feasting at Jay Cooke State Park

This video was shot by Mark “Sparky” Stensaas on May 3 for his blog, the Photonaturalist. Local porcupines have moved out of places like the West Duluth Porcupine Hotel and are giving up their diet of tree bark in favor of the more scrumptious catkins of Pussy Willows. Sparky’s specific post on this is called “Porcupine Spring Snack.”

6 Comments

Ethan

about 9 years ago

What a funky little critter.  We're (my wife and I) headed to the boundary waters this weekend.  I hope we encounter a character like this guy!  He looks sort of like a koala bear.  I like to keep my distance from critters with weapons.  In Alaska, I saw a couple close up and they were nice enough - though I also remember my poor lab dog getting messed up because he was curious as to what a porcupine might taste like.

Nick

about 9 years ago

It's a rare spring ride or run on the Munger Trail when I don't see one of these guys.  They're fascinating to watch.  Thanks for posting this.

Mildred

about 9 years ago

So cute! I'm glad my dog learned his lesson about these guys years ago.

Abby

about 9 years ago

For a brief moment before the video loaded I thought it was going to be about people feasting on porcupines at Jay Cooke. I'm so happy this was not the case. Awesome video!

Roger

about 9 years ago

Maybe it's just me, but I swear that the porcupines at Jay Cooke are quite tolerant of humans. I don't often see them during hikes, but within 30 minutes in Jay Cooke I spotted one right away and it didn't seem bothered by my presence. It's a great opportunity to get a look at them, but watch out if you have a dog.

Oh, and according to Scientific American (paywalled link below,) their tendency to gnaw on axe handles and treated lumber is because they have a wicked salt craving:

"Whatever salty hands have touched, from ax handles to discarded wrappings, becomes the target of their needful gnawing. Nowadays the most common attractor for the porcupine is plywood in unattended outbuildings. The curing compound used in plywood is sodium nitrate, so porcupines chew doggedly at wooden walls for that scant, unseen prize."

And then there's this about the quills:

"Its celebrated quills form a final defense preceded by its threefold warning: first a visible pattern, then often loud teeth clacking, finally a goaty scent. Ignore all three, and you dare fierce and lasting contact with barbed quills able, once set, to ratchet their way inward. (Because the sharp quills often penetrate their tree-climbing owner itself after an accidental fall, adaptation has coated the quills with antibiotic, so that they rarely engender infection.)"

Really neat critters. And great video, though I'm not sure I dig the music.

Scientific American: The Needy Porcupine

Jessy

about 9 years ago

Porcupines are REALLY the sloth of North America. Amazing critters!  We watch the same porcupine from our little farm in Crow Wing County each winter through spring climb tree after tree at sundown to munch on bark and whatever she/he can come up with.  Such fun to watch out the big window during lunch or dinner!! Thanks for a great video!

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