A porcupine went for a stroll across our back lawn in the middle of a lovely afternoon. They’re usually nocturnal so it was quite a surprise to see him. He didn’t hang around for long though. I snapped some quick pictures but didn’t get a chance to get closer to him.
Porcupines eat shrubs and bark. They will peel a tree if they find it appetizing enough, which can kill it. I didn’t take the guards off the fruit trees this year so that might have discouraged him from chewing on them, they are still just saplings and would have made a nice appetizer for him.
If porcupines can avoid confrontation they will, preferring to run away instead of fighting. But make no mistake, if you corner one it will protect itself with its sharp quills.
While the quills are not poisonous, they certainly are painful. The quills have barbs and once embedded these barbs keep the quill firmly stuck. Yanking them out can cause a fair bit of damage to tissue, and there is always the risk of infection.
Porcupines don’t actually ‘throw’ their quills. The quills rest on his back, rump and tail until he feels threatened, then they become upright and rigid. When anything touches them they release, which obviously results in them getting stuck into whatever has touched them.
While a porcupine prefers to run away if it’s confronted it will charge its attacker with all its quills bristling. They can move surprisingly fast and will likely catch you off guard. If it manages to touch you, it will be an encounter you will regret. All in all, it’s best to just let them be on their way without bothering them.
This guy seemed to be just passing through, he walked across the bottom of the yard then disappeared into the brush.