What Do Porcupines Eat

Porcupines, or quill pigs, are rodents and they inhabit the Western United States, Europe and Africa. They are one of the most interesting-looking animals, having sharp quills or spines so they can defend themselves from larger predators. Porcupines live in burrows, dens and they tend to choose a safe place as they don’t hibernate. They are mostly nocturnal animals and their eyesight is poor, but their sense of smell is highly developed. They use their quills to protect themselves or in last case scenario, they just climb a tree.

Porcupine’s diet

Their diet changes with the season thus their summer diet differs from their winter diet. They mostly eat herbs, plants, roots, fruits and bark but sometimes they even resort to nibbling on carcasses as well. In the winter, their diet is much more limited. They eat acorns and gather dried fruits from the trees, but mostly they resort to the inner part of tree bark, which they easily penetrate with their sharp teeth. Porcupines are constantly active and therefore they need to seek food at all times. They don’t need a large amount of food and they eat less than a pound of food per day.

They do have a few nasty habits though

When they run out of food sources, it often happens that they start chewing different plants in people’s gardens. Especially in winter when food is scarce and they can quite happily feed on the roots of rose bushes.

Indian crested porcupine
Indian crested porcupine

They like salt!

Porcupines have a special fondness for salt, for which reason they often like unusual things. One of those things is a tool handle for example. Why a tool handle? Well, the main reason of this is that the tool handles have remnants of salt on their surfaces, left behind from the sweaty palms of the person who worked with them. They resort to other methods for getting the much needed salt. They sometimes eat boat paddles, or get in the water and eat certain plants which are rich in salt.

North American porcupine.
North American porcupine.

Their destructive behavior

Their green diet doesn’t make porcupines friends with trees and bushes. They chew on the bark around the trunk and branches of the trees, which can’t lead to a good result where the plants are concerned. They can end up destroying numerous trees, contributing this way to the destruction of the forests. Porcupines need to chew on tree barks to stop their teeth from becoming too large and they need to keep it at the proper size. The tree chewing problem can quite easily be remedied if one puts a wire band around the bark of the tree.

Humans are their biggest enemy

The relationship between humans and porcupines is not a very friendly one, since they often run them over with their cars. While they are not hunted as game animals, they are often poisoned and trapped.

More: Facts about porcupines.

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