Porcupine Facts

Porcupines have coats of sharp spines that protect them from predation. 

They live in woodlands and forests where they eat bark and wood. They eat fruits, seeds, insects, grasses, roots, bulbs, flowers, and other vegetation. They are found all over the world except for Antarctica.

Most porcupines are between 60 and 90 cm long and weigh 5 – 16 kg (12 – 35 lb). They have spiny protection that resembles hedgehogs and echidnas.

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Porcupine Facts for Kids

  • Porcupines are rodents
  • They have poor vision
  • Porcupines are herbivores
  • Baby porcupines are called “porcupettes.”
  • Sharp quills protect them from predators
  • They are the second-largest rodent in North America

Sharp Quills

They have sharp quills that protect them from predators. They can make the quills rattle by shaking them, but if that doesn’t work, the porcupine may charge backward at the predator.

Porcupines have spines that are modified hairs coated in keratin and embedded in the animal’s skin.

Porcupine quills are released by contact or may drop out when they shake their body. There are antibiotic properties within the quills.

Baby Porcupine

Baby porcupines are called “porcupettes”

Female porcupines give birth to one to three babies at a time. The babies mature in 9 months to 2.5 years and can live up to 15 years.

Are there Different Types of Porcupines

Old World porcupines (found in Europe, Africa, and India) are large, with spines grouped in clusters. New World porcupines (found in North America and South America) are smaller, with spines attached singly, and are excellent climbers, spending much of their time in trees.


The North American porcupine eats leaves, herbs, twigs, and green plants. The African porcupine is mostly nocturnal and eats fruits and berries.


A porcupine can display a number of defensive behaviors, including clattering teeth, quill erection, emitting odor, and attack.

If sight and sound fail, the porcupine can attack by running sideways or backward into predators.

Do Humans Eat Porcupine

Porcupines are rarely eaten in Western culture but are very popular in Southeast Asia.

Their quills and guard hairs are used to make traditional Native American clothing.

The barbs make the quills more painful to remove and allow easy and painless insertion. The barbs have inspired research for such applications as the design of hypodermic needles and surgical staples.