North American Porcupine

Our North American Porcupine, found at Southwick's Zoo in Mendon MA

Where to find the North American Porcupine (besides Southwick's Zoo in Mendon, MA!)
North American Porcupine Facts
North American Porcupine
Erethizon dorsatum

Life Span
Wild: 5-10 years
Captivity: 15 years
25-40 inches
Average Weight
12-15 lbs
Group Name
Prickle or herd
Group Size
Often solitary
Name of Young

Our North American Porcupine, found at Southwick's Zoo in Mendon MAFacts

  • Porcupines are the second largest rodents in North America, the largest being the beaver. Their most notable feature is their quills, which serve as a defense mechanism.
  • Quills are actually very sharp, hollow hairs with sharp fish-hook like barbs. They cannot throw their quills, but can raise them and try to strike predators with their tail. The quills’ barbed ends hook into the skin of the attacker and become lodged in its skin resulting in a fatal infection.
  • A porcupine’s body is covered in quills except for their snouts, throat, stomach, and the bottoms of their feet. Their main predator is the fisher.
  • They are nocturnal, active at night, and will usually spend the daytime resting in trees. They are rather near sighted and have been known to fall out of trees on occasion while reaching for buds on the end of branches.

Did You Know?

North American porcupines have antibiotics in their skin. They are the only mammal native to North America that has this adaptation. This helps prevent infections if they injure themselves with their own quills.