Porcupines

A large rodent with distinct, barbed quills on back, sides, and tail—for an animal that is not usually aggressive, the porcupine has obtained quite a reputation as a fierce animal.

Image of a porcupine

Behaviour

Porcupines are primarily nocturnal, feeding and traveling during darkness. They do not hibernate and are active all winter, though they seldom travel far from their dens when the ground is covered with snow. Breeding takes place in late summer and early fall, with one baby born in late April or May.

These mammals can mostly subsist on berries, leaves, twigs, and tree bark. Porcupines are especially fond of salt and are easily attracted to it, a fact which is useful in their control.

Porcupines will stand their ground when threatened. A porcupine’s quill is very sharp and barbed on the end, making entry easy, and removal painful. It is a common myth that porcupines can 'throw' their quills. To get "quilled" you would have to have actual physical contact with a porcupine. If left alone, a porcupine will do you no harm.

Management

  • Repellants - Skoot or thiram-based compounds are the only products that may be used for porcupines in Canada. These products can be brushed or sprayed on most vegetation. They give a bitter and offensive taste to the plant. Do not apply repellents to plants normally grown for human or animal consumption; the repellents will make the plants inedible.
  • Trapping - Live trapping may be successful using a wire cage trap or wooden box trap. Set the trap at the base of a large tree or a leaning one near the damage site. Bait a small cubby (enclosed space) with a salt-soaked piece of leather or wood, salt mixed with cooking oil or vegetable pieces such as carrot, turnip, etc. Porcupines like salt. Relocate the animal a good distance away (up to 45 km), and release in an non-agricultural area.

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Last updated: Friday, December 08, 2017
Page ID: 38895