Erithizon dorsatum



Porcupines have a brown coat of hair that is covered with up to 30,000 sharp quills. These quills can grow up to 12.5 centimetres long. The tips of the quills are covered in barbs that let the quills dig in deeper and firmer when they contact an enemy. Porcupines can grow to 100 centimetres long, and can weigh five and a half kilograms for males and four and a half for females.

Range & Habitat

Porcupines are found across Canada and in the western US. They always live in or near stands of trees where there are piles of brush to build their nests.

Diet & Behaviour

Porcupines eat mostly the inner bark of trees, but sometimes tender leaves and stems. They love to chew on leather and glued wood. They are noisy eaters, shortsighted, and slow moving.

Lifecycle & Threats

Porcupines mate in the late fall and early winter. They are generally pregnant for seven months and the young, called “porcupettes,” are born with soft quills that harden within an hour of being born. Forest fires, disease and parasites threaten porcupines. Porcupines are eaten by lynx, cougar, and bobcat.

First Nations Uses

The quills were dyed and used in decorative work and porcupine meat was often eaten.


COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

More Information


Photo: Robbie’s Photo Art