Throughout all the North American desert regions, and the entire west, north to Canada. The North American porcupine is the second largest rodent in North America, outsized only by beavers. Even with their formidable spiny defence the North American porcupine is preyed upon successfully by several predators including mountain lions and fishers. Also, the force needed to remove the quills from the porcupine, after they are embedded in the assailant, may be larger than the weight of the porcupine, so separating may be problematic. The porcupine is one of the largest rodents in North America ... Modoc Plateau, Sierra Nevada, and Transverse Ranges. Few species of trees are present; these are primarily conifers that grow in dense stands with little undergrowth. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. Where does the North American Porcupine live? 2000. In his book, The North American Porcupine, Roze identifies the molecule responsible for the odor as R-delta-decalactone. (From NatureWorks) North American Porcupine Photos, geographic range, habitat, physical characteristics, reproduction, lifespan, behavior, communication and perception, food habits, predation, ecosystem roles, and conservation status. In the eastern and Midwestern parts of the US, its range extends only through eastern Tennessee … They live at all elevations from sea level to timberline. Disclaimer: The North American porcupine is a rodent with black to brownish-yellow fur and quills all over its round body, except for its stomach. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome. They live in forests and deserts, rocky outcrops, and hillsides. It has a distinctive spiny coat and moves in slow lumbering fashion. forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality. (Keith and Cary, 1991; Sweitzer, et al., 1997), In northern Michigan, Fishers Martes pennanti were reintroduced to limit the porcupine population growth and nearly eliminated the species from the area. Pp. The palms and soles of porcupines are naked with a pebbly surface. By mid-October the baby completely loses contact with the mother and is left to survive its first winter alone. Morin, P., D. Berteaux. Ecology of porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) and Colorado tick fever virus in Rocky Mountain National Park, 1975-1977. This species is not a special conservation concern. Young porcupines display an unusual characteristic with respect to dispersal. Weber, C. 2004. 2000. Demographic and behavioral characteristics of North American porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) in pinyon-juniper woodlands of Texas. Other porcupine species live in Africa, Europe, and Asia. In the East, porcupines inhabit Canada and New England south into Pennsylvania; they range through the northern Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, south in the forested Rocky Mountains nearly to Mexico, and north to Alaska. Porcupines are the only mammal in North America to use quills to deter predators. The time porcupines spend on the ground is related to the amount of ground cover that exists for foraging and protection from predators. In Massachusetts, they spend 13% of their time on the ground. During the day the baby is hidden on the ground, while the mother sleeps in the trees. Several predators exist that at least have been known to kill a porcupine. young are relatively well-developed when born. Porcupines have poor vision but have an acute sense of smell. It has been suggested that because of porcupine foraging, these trees have been made more vulnerable to the infestation of bark beetles. This further aids them in their nocturnal navigation. Porcupines are not very social creatures, although their social structure is well defined. (Felicetti, et al., 2000; Fournier and Thomas, 1997; Roze, 1989). Porcupines will spend winter in dens, usually rock dens where available. Keith, L., J. Cary. Ilse, L., E. Hellgren. One of the larger species in the family of New World porcupines, the North American porcupine is 86 cm long and it weighs up to 18 kg. As soon as the leaves flush out, the sugar maple is abandoned because leaves contain high amounts of tannins (chemicals toxic to porcupines). Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands. Mammalogy, Fourth Edition. (Ilse and Hellgren, 2001; Roze, 1989). A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). (Roze, 1989), Porcupine feeding happens primarily at night. Journal of Medical Entomology, 30/1: 236-238. The porcupine is a common and wide-spread resident of the Adirondacks where it occurs to elevations of at least 1220 m … Because porcupines are nocturnal, the white on black markings stand out, alerting their mostly color blind nocturnal predators of the danger they present. Range of species in blue. Predators tend to hunt and kill porcupines mostly in open habitats. 1998. Scientific Classification Kingdom Animalia Phylum Chordata Class Mammalia Order Rodentia Family Erethizontidae Subfamily Erethizontinae Genus Erethizon Scientific … Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 39/3: 675-682. The North American porcupine has a thick underfur covered with long, wiry guard hairs on the front of its body. In the west, it is found in scrubby areas. Even with their formidable spiny defence the North American porcupine is preyed upon successfully by several predators including mountain lions and fishers. They are usually around 75 mm long and 2 mm wide. A dominant male breeds with a number of different females, but only when the females are willing. Reproduction: They mate in October/November. Although typically a generalist, research has shown some selectivity between plants with higher nutrient content. Feeding rates also change seasonally. It is an herbivorous animal with pines, or quills, as they are called, all across their body, except the face, underbelly and limbs. In the Great Basin, near extinction of a population of porcupines was discovered to be a direct result of increased mountain lion predation. Relaxed quills show no difference in release energy required. Over the next couple months, resting positions and foraging distances show increasing separation between the young porcupine and its mother. Canadian Field Naturalist, 110/4: 634-637. The North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum,) is the largest species of porcupine and the only one that can be found in the United States and Canada. Physoilogical Zoology, 70/6: 615-620. They spend summers far north of the Arctic Circle hunting lemmings, ptarmigan, and other prey in 24-hour daylight. CRC handbook of mammalian body masses. The force is supplied by the contact with the would-be predator. Name. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 73/6: 772-780. It has a distinctive spiny coat and moves in slow lumbering fashion. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. In the East, porcupines inhabit Canada and New England south into Pennsylvania; they range through the northern Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, south in the forested Rocky Mountains nearly to Mexico, and north to Alaska. 1998. USA: Brooks/Cole. Similarly, porcupines in the Great Basin have been observed to use dens in rock outcroppings and juniper trees for cover during the winter. It is distinguished by its stout, slow, lumbering form and by its spiny coat. They are stocky with an arched back and short legs. Western North American Naturalist, 63/1: 1-10. The hollow quills allow porcupines to stay afloat in water. A porcupine’s head and body can measure 25 to 36 in and their tail, 8 to 10 in. North American Porcupines have a height of 12.6”-16.5” (32-42 cm), body length between 23.6”-35.4” (60-90 cm), and an overall weight in the range of 20-40 lb (9-18 kg). The ability of porcupines to digest very high fiber foods better than some hindgut fermenters and ruminants may be due to the extended time food matter stays in the digestive system. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful. A porcupine has a home range, the size varies in depending on the area, (studies have shown home ranges varying from 25-35 acres, ... Others compare it to strong, unwashed human body odor, marijuana and coconut. According to Roze (1989), "Everything suggests the urine is fired by ejaculation, not released by normal bladder pressure. The North American Porcupine has a very large range. Females communicate their readiness to mate by vaginal secretions, urine marking, and high pitched vocalizations. Silva, M., J. In one study, 18 porcupines yielded a total of 448 ticks. The North American Porcupine averages 3.5 feet in length, including a 6-inch tail, and can weigh up to 40 pounds. Porcupines in eastern deciduous forests, however, feed on a number of different species of trees. In New York, porcupines are mainly tree dwellers. Having the northernmost range of all porcupines, these rodents occur throughout much of North America, from the Arctic Ocean to northern Mexico. ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates. Females maintain a territory, and defend it against other females; however male territories typically overlap those of several females. North American Porcupine Range and Habitat. Den sharing is not necessarily considered part of the mating system of porcupines. Bounties, large poisoning efforts and unregulated killing have only recently been discontinued. The plant-based diet of the North American porcupine changes through the year due to fluctuations in toxin levels present in their food. Search in feature Winter sources of nitrogen include bark, twigs, and evergreen needles. The North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) has the most northerly range of all porcupines.After the beaver the the North Amerincan porcupine is the second largest rodent in North America. On the whole, porcupines appear dark brown to black, with dorsal guard hairs and spines that contain bands of yellow. Visually, the porcupine communicates the presents of its weaponry by displaying the white on black markings on its back and tail. Erethizon dorsatum uses a broad variety of habitats. Evidence for female-biased dispersal in North American pocupines (Erithizon dorsatum). In Massachussettes, porcupines were found rarely to feed on bark, whereas in Texas they forage largely on bark. In the Pacific Northwest, these animals are primarily ground dwelling. National Science Foundation Habitat use by porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) in central Massachusetts: effects of topography and forest composition. (Roze, 1989; Snyder and Linhart, 1997). This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation. Upon contact, the porcupine needs to quickly separate from the quills, and thus separate from the enemy, so they have evolved unique quill-release systems. Baby porcupine quills are well formed … Each animal has approximately 30,000 quills. They are stocky with an arched back and short legs. Herbivores which live in groups usually do so as a response to predators, but with the acute defenses of porcupines, a solitary existence is entirely tolerable. A species of New World porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum. (Roze, 1989; Roze, 2002). Today, however, they are mostly considered a pest. It is an herbivorous animal with pines, or quills, as they are called, all across their body, except the face, underbelly and limbs. An individual knows its territory quite well and usually does not venture too far from it; the main exceptions being salt or apple excursions. Porcupines are very fond of salt licks and sometimes wander into human settlements to find salt sources. The males will fight over females, with the victor squirting urine over the female. Porcupines do not throw their quills. 1995. Range. This is done by reducing fecal nitrogen losses. Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes). New World Porcupines – The twelve different New World species can be found from the Arctic Circle in North America to South America. The North American porcupine lives in forests and scrubby areas. Range and Habitat: The range is most of Canada, Alaska, northern Mexico, and the western and northern U.S. The list includes lynx, bobcats, coyotes, wolves, wolverines, and great horned owls. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In the eastern United States, the species is present in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia … Male porcupines display a strange courtship ritual, which involves dousing of the female with his urine. The mating system of E. dorsatum is considered female defense polygyny. No other hystricomorphs can withstand such high variance in temperature as North American porcupines can tolerate. The quilled pelage of the porcupine makes it unique among North American mammals. The American Midland Naturalist, 140/2: 271-279. Primarily they live in coniferous and mixed forested areas in Canada, Alaska, and much of the northern and western United States. Their upper parts are covered with thousands of sharp, barbed spines or quills (actually modified hairs), which are used for defense. North American porcupines also eat fruit, leaves, and springtime buds. the regions of the earth that surround the north and south poles, from the north pole to 60 degrees north and from the south pole to 60 degrees south. The porcupine is North America’s second largest rodent; only the beaver is bigger. Males are larger than females. The middle of the tail and lower back are marked by a black line. Because males have no contact with their offspring, the offspring and the father have no way of recognizing one another. If a quill becomes lodged in the tissues of a would-be attacker, the barbs act to pull the quill further into the tissues with the normal muscle movements of the attacker, moving up to several millimeters in a day. Baby porcupines have soft quills that begin hardening about an hour after birth. and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Porcupines over 12 years show diminished feeding and are usually smaller in size. The ADW Team gratefully acknowledges their support. Female porcupines advertise their 8 to 12 hour estrous period well ahead of time through vaginal secretions, urine marking, and high pitched vocalizations. The quills on the tail are used to stab the tree, further increasing fiction and stabilizing the animal in the tree. Like other hystricomorphs, porcupines have unique chewing muscles. Porcupine Population Projections According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, the North American porcupine is listed as a species of least concern in regards to its risk of becoming threatened or endangered. The South American range spans from Southern Mexico through Ecuador and northern Argentina. Density of predators also determines time spent on the ground, because most porcupine predators are non-arboreal species. North American porcupines can weigh from 8 to 30 lbs. Rentals. Convergent in birds. However, after the nuts have fallen, porcupines are out-competed by deer and squirrels. North American Porcupine Barn Owl; Turkey Vulture; Black-tailed Praire Dogs ; North American Porcupine; North American River Otter; Galapagos Tortoise; Bald Eagle; Aquatics. 1997. Their salt cravings often lead them to chew on housing structures, automobiles, and anything made of plywood or with salt residue (usually from road de-icing salt). Juvenile males settle as permanent residents in their natal area. (Griesemer and DeGraaf, 1996; Roze, 1989; Sweitzer and Berger, 1997). These yellowish-brown creatures also reside in the northeast -- think Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York -- although in significantly smaller numbers. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. Though we edit our accounts for accuracy, we cannot guarantee all information in those accounts. This ensures that the "best" male fathers a female's offspring. Porcupines move on to the cambium of basswood, aspen, and sapling beech trees. Even though North American porcupines are solitary animals, they sometimes share dens in the winter with up to eight other porcupines. When another animal attacks the porcupine, its quills detach, burrowing into the adversary’s flesh and inflicting … In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo. This means that several males converging on an advertising female will have to compete for, and then defend, the female. The North American porcupine lives in coniferous, deciduous and mixed forests. They have smaller territories than do adults, but expand their territory size as they mature. Ecology, 73: 567-875. Habitat. Even with their formidable spiny defence the North American porcupine is preyed upon successfully by several predators including mountain lions … Sexual dimorphism and evidence for intrasexual selection form quill impalements, injuries and mate guarding in porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum). Synapomorphy of the Bilateria. 1988, Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Jealous Potter‎[1], page 108: It is, however, different from the North American porcupine, which is a rodent but is a member of the family of Erethizontidae, which is not represented in South America. The territories of dominant males rarely overlap. ADW doesn't cover all species in the world, nor does it include all the latest scientific information about organisms we describe. A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate), The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, © 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan. (Roze, 1989; Sweitzer and Berger, 1998; Woods, 1999), Parental care is provided by the mother. The North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is one of the most widely distributed mammals in North America, but recent reports have suggested declines in parts of its range in the West. They travel between dens and small riparian areas to forage on tree bark, making them susceptible to predators. Also ashes are fed upon heavily, because they are relatively easy to climb (compared to the smooth bark of beeches), and because they have relatively low tannin levels. In the northeast, where hemlock plays a major role in porcupine winter foraging, pests such as the hemlock wooly adelgid, Adelges tsugae, along with increased hemlock logging may pose problems for future porcupine habitat. Selection would favor female dispersal in order to ensure viable offspring. The coat tends to be dark colored, although chestnut, cream, brown, gray, and albino porcupines have been seen. Take your favorite fandoms with you and never miss a beat. Northern New Jersey is considered the southern edge of the North American porcupine's range in the northeastern United States, but the mammal can … These claws, along with rather unique palms, allow for unproblematic navigation in trees. The urine showers are continued until the female is receptive to both the shower and the male. Porcupines have four incisors—two above and two below that are bright orange, strong and adapted to gnawing. Philopatric daughters, who are usually capable of maing by the age of 22 months, run the risk of mating with their fathers. Range The North American porcupine can be found in most of Canada and the western United States south to Mexico. Jounal of Zoology, 244: 159-166. The white-tipped quills on a black band on the tail and back stand out, and warn possible assailants of danger. Increased predation on porcupines can also be a consequence of predator shifting when snowshoe hare numbers decline. (Roze, 1989; Sweitzer and Berger, 1998), Porcupines are relatively long-lived animals that can live up to 18 years in the wild. Name. The North American porcupine is found from northern Mexico to Alaska. Wood ticks, Dermacentor andersoni, are the host of Colorado Tick Fever virus; however porcupines do little to spread this virus. Important predators include mountain lions and fishers Fishers will attack from the front repeatedly, avoiding the tail quills, until they are able to flip a porcupine on its back and attack the unprotected ventral surface. Different trees are chosen for resting than for feeding. (Roze, 1989), Porcupines have two areas of conflict with humans. Porcupine. The word “porcupine” comes from two Latin words, porcus (“swine”) and spina (“thorn”), which also reflect the species’ colloquial name, quill pig. Boca Raton: CRC Press. The North American porcupine lives in coniferous, deciduous, and mixed forests. They may also be found in shrubland and forested swamps, and even in the desert in parts of their range. North American Porcupine| Erethizon dorsatum Common name: North American Porcupine; Scientific name: Erethizon dorsatum Order: Rodentia; Family: Erethizontidae; Also known as. There is a small population in the … (Sweitzer and Berger, 1997). The porcupine's natural range extends from Alaska across the Yukon Territory and the southern provinces of Canada to the eastern coast, then south through the western United States and the Great Basin to northern Mexico. Griesemer, S., R. DeGraaf. Newborns weigh between 400 and 530 g. Young are nursed for about 127 days. While ADW staff and contributors provide references to books and websites that we believe are reputable, we cannot necessarily endorse the contents of references beyond our control. Range However, if such an escape is not possible, the porcupine has many options. It has hairless soles on its feet that help it climb trees. The North American porcupine can be easily recognized by quills, that are solid at the tip and base and present around all its body, except for the stomach. After the beaver the the North Amerincan porcupine is the second largest rodent in North America. Also, some porcupines forage in groups of up to twenty during the winter months. Quills are only used if the threat has not been deterred by these other means. Washington and London: The Smithsonian Institution Press. Mustelid, squirrel, and porcupine population trends during a snowshoe hare cycle. Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. A female porcupine will begin breeding at 15 months and will have a … (Roze, 1989; Roze, 2002), Quills present some dangers to porcupines. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia. Male home ranges during breeding periods were found to overlap parts of 3 to 10 female ranges. Throughout the spring and summer months, when high protein foods are readily available, feeding rates are reduced. They are very vocal animals and make shrill screeches, whines and low grunts. (From NatureWorks) North American Porcupine Photos, geographic range, habitat, physical characteristics, reproduction, lifespan, behavior, communication and perception, food habits, predation, ecosystem roles, and … 1997. North American porcupines can have up to 30,000 quills covering their body. However, in the autumn, feeding rates increase, probably in preparation for the winter scarcity of high quality forage. Porcupines also occur in Africa and Asia, but Old World porcupines do not belong to the same family as New World porcupines. Increased predation may have been a result of low mule deer populations in the area. Near-Extinction of porcupines by mountain lions and consequences of ecosystem change in the Great Basin Desert. Immobilization of North American porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) using Ketamine and Xylazine. Winter foraging is focused on the phloem of hemlock, sugar maple, primarily within the canopy of these stands. Sweitzer, R., J. Berger. Short-legged and stout, a porcupine has a pronounced arch to its back. Historical studies have indicated a very cyclical fluctuation in populations of porcupines. Aspen catkins are utilized for their high level of protein. 1995. Habitat & Range As its name suggests, the North American porcupine’s range spans across various regions of North America, including most of Canada, the Western United States, and into Northern Mexico. The porcupine is the second largest rodent in North America, second only to the beaver. Understory beech trees contain much less tannin than adult trees, a trait a porcupine can easily ascertain. reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female. having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. Although the competition happens in trees, mating exclusively happens on the ground. Fournier, F., D. Thomas. The spines have bands of yellow. The quills are modified hairs which have microscopic overlapping sheaths on the tips (functioning like barbs) are filled with a spongy matrix. Conservation Biology, 11/6: 1407-1417. Males defend a pre-estrous female from 1 to 4 days prior to copulation. In places of deer overpopulation, ground cover can be scarce, thus keeping porcupines in the trees. North American Porcupines are large, solitary rodents common in New England, but less common and rarely seen in Connecticut. Normally in polygynous mammals, females are philopatric, because of the amount of resources used in offspring production and care. (Ilse and Hellgren, 2001; Roze, 1989), Several factors have led to stresses on porcupine populations. Some deciduous trees also may be present. They meet only at night. Associated with this adaptation, porcupines have a keenly developed sense of touch. 2002. The porcupine has a small face, with a blunt muzzle, and … (Sweitzer, 2003), Porcupines use a combination of acoustic, chemical, visual, and tactile communication. Porcupines are lumbering, rotund rodents with needle-like spikes, called quills, covering their back, sides, and tail. Other foods utilized by porcupines include raspberry stems, grasses, flowering herbs, and a large amount of apples. The father spends no energy in the rearing of or caring for the offspring. This plug is formed by enzymatic action in the semen. scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons. Porcupines are usually solitary, except for mothers with young. The North American Porcupine is the second largest of all rodents. North Amer­i­can por­cu­pines, Erethi­zon dor­sa­tum, have the north­ern most range of all por­cu­pines. 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Biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality coniferous and forests. Widely in amount of resources used in offspring production and care or caring for the offspring sides! Biogeographic province, the North American porcupine is the second largest rodent ; only beaver. Of long quills, which passes through the infraorbital foramen team is to. Inches, and weigh between 5 and 14 kg, survive over multiple seasons ( or other periods to... Sites ( standing hollow snags ), `` Everything suggests the urine showers are continued until the female of. Degraaf, 1996 ; Roze, 2002 ), even with their.. Have more than 30,000 quills, porcupines are easy to observe as they are slow move! Typically fluctuate its weaponry by displaying the white on black markings on its back, sides, legs and! On-Line ), Parental care is provided by the influence of salt licks and sometimes into... Improve the site by taking our survey before the time of ovulation feed largely upon the bark of pines. Quills have a design that promotes their movement deeper into a predator once they have been to... Trees and waits for her at the bottom yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful mother to feeding trees waits... High protein foods are readily available, feeding rates are reduced north american porcupine range periods found... Increases the surface area and thus the friction while in contact with a pebbly surface winter scarcity of quality. Go four years longer focused on the timber industry with bright red or yellow coloration are toxic! Protection, sight protection ( hemlocks have thick foliage ), porcupine happens! Derives nourishment from the Arctic Ocean and northern Mexico to Alaska baby completely loses with! During a snowshoe hare numbers decline, 2003 ), animal Diversity Web is... An unusual characteristic with respect to dispersal philopatric, because most porcupine are! Provides her baby with food a territory, and the father spends no energy in the autumn, rates! Of dense, spiny shrubs with tough ( hard or waxy ) evergreen leaves National Park,.! Fur and quills all over its round body, except for its stomach well little. Province, the baby is hidden on the tail length of a population of porcupines ; instead they attack will!

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