How to Tell You’re in the Presence of a Porky

If you’re getting sick of hearing me go on about porcupines, feel free to skip this post. But if, like me, you think porcupines are AWESOME, then read on.

Recently I was walking along a trail when I almost stepped on these small, oblong droppings.

When I looked at the snow around me more closely, I realized that it was littered with pine needles and even a few whole pine twigs.

So I craned my neck to peer up into the pine tree above me, and discovered that most of the branches I could see had patches of bark missing.

I looked and looked and but did not actually spot the porcupine. I’m sure it was somewhere nearby, hidden in the branches, watching me. I can’t help but wonder how many porcupines I’ve walked underneath without knowing it since I moved here.

Update – I originally took these photos last Monday (February 6). On Thursday I was leading a group of home school students along this same trail and pointed out the signs of porcupine activity. A couple of the girls walked ahead, found another tree with fallen needles and fresh scat around its base, looked up, and spotted the culprit. I was so pleased that not only did the whole group get great looks at a particularly fat, impressive porcupine, but they also found it by applying what I had just taught them!

11 thoughts on “How to Tell You’re in the Presence of a Porky”

  1. Hmmm…Porcupine, Now that’s an animal I have never seen but would like to. I’m not even sure that they live here on Cape Cod. Up in the norther woods I believe, but down hear, I don’t know.

    1. I don’t know if they’re in Cape Cod, but I know people here in Wisconsin who’ve never seen a live porcupine (only dead road-killed ones) – since they spend most of their time sitting quietly in trees I guess it’s easy to miss them if you don’t know what you’re looking for. They can blend in among the pine branches surprisingly well.

      1. The one that lives outside my apartment in Land O’ Lakes has been stripping the bark off young sugar maples, as well. And he hangs out in the balsam firs around the building. They don’t seem to be too picky.

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