Return of the Porcupine

Remember my porcupine friend from last fall? I hadn’t seen him* in a while, but Monday afternoon my roommate happened to glance out the patio doors and spot him descending from a tree. Not having had a chance to get good photos of him herself, she quickly put on her boots and went outside, but he disappeared down a burrow rather than posing for her. (Clearly he likes me better!)

Yesterday I went outside to investigate his home a little further. Here’s the hole he disappeared into – there are tracks leading up to it, and you can see where the bark has been gnawed off the young sugar maple outside the entrance.

Actually, a lot of the small sugar maples outside our house had strips of bark missing, now that I knew to look. (At some point I’ll have to do a post on winter tree ID. Also, I love how for this photo my camera somehow focused on every tree except the one I was actually looking at.)

A criss-crossing network of tracks through the snow connects all of his favorite trees.

Finally I noticed a suspicious lump in the branches of a nearby fir tree. There he was, watching my every move from a safe vantage point.

North Woods natives consider porcupines to be pests, because of their penchant for chewing on houses. However, the architect of our building wisely put several feet of stonework at the base of all the exterior walls to deter them, and my roommate and I are absolutely enchanted to have a porcupine neighbor that we can watch from the comfort of our couch!

More information on the North American Porcupine can be found here, and this looks like a fun porcupine-related craft if you have kids.

*I have no idea if our porcupine is male, but referring to it as “it” all the time was going to bother me, so deal with it.

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10 thoughts on “Return of the Porcupine”

    1. They spend most of their time in trees, actually – we spotted two more today while snowshoeing that were napping in pines. They’re kind of like the tree sloths or koala bears of the North Woods, sleepy, slow-moving, tree-dwelling mammals!

      1. They are (mythical) giant koala-like creatures that drop out of trees onto the tents of camping tourists. I can imagine porcupines doing this.

        I myself have been guilty of warning unsuspecting tourists about drop bears, with a straight face. Naughty me!

        1. I admit that when I’m leading a hike and we find a porcupine in a tree, I always ask who wants to stand under the tree and hold out their arms while I shake the trunk. :)

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