If you see an animal stung with porcupine quills: STAY AWAY
I just learned this today from my mom (who learned it from NPR) but I looked it up and it is legit. If you see an animal, other than a dog, which is covered in porcupine quills, stay away. It is almost certainly rabid.
Dogs are naturally curious and have a knack for getting into trouble. But otherwise, nature’s wild animals know to stay away from porcupines. The only animals willing to attack a porcupine are either martens (which have a specific technique) or rabid animals that are already in the throws of rabies madness. According to the vet on this month’s ‘Pets and Vets’ on NPR, every animal she saw (other than dogs) brought in with porcupine quills also had rabies.
So when you see that cute raccoon, clearly in distress, covered in porcupine quills, stay away and call animal control. It is not in distress because it is covered in quills, it is in distress because it is rabid and that is why it approached a porcupine in the first place.
Rabies is incurable. Please don’t let your good heartedness lead to you getting a fatal illness.
The word porcupine
comes from the Latin porcus for pig and spina for spine—therefore,
“spiny pig.” An individual can have over 30,000 quills, but contrary to
popular belief, they cannot shoot their quills at adversaries.
Porcupines have muscles at the base of each quill that allow them to
stand up when the animal is excited or alarmed. (source)
Did you know a baby porcupine is called a porcupette? These cute critters have soft hair mixed with barbed quills that stick up when they feel threatened to deter predators. Porcupines sleep in trees and feed on the inner bark, twigs and leaves. They live to be 5-6 years old and have one or two young, which are born with soft quills that harden within an hour. Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo has welcomed a tiny new arrival: a female North American porcupine, born on April 4. So far, the porcupette has chosen to stay behind the scenes in a quiet den, but her zookeepers think she will soon venture out to climb and explore. Keep an eye out!