Outdoor News

Can Porcupines Really Shoot Quills?
By Jan Kent 11-19-12

It’s a great time of the year to get out walking and enjoy the brisk fall air.  There are still many birds around and encountering other wildlife is not uncommon. Walking with a group across a beautiful open field, we saw a rather odd movement in the grass.  

A couple people recognized it as a porcupine. There was an immediate response from one member of the group, "watch out, it will shoot its quills".  We debunked the fallacy and enjoyed watching the slow, awkward creature work its way through the field.

Where did the myth start that the porcupine can shoot quills?  The myth is documented as far back as A.D. 77 and is still alive today.    The myth may have been generated due to the porcupine’s formidable tail which can lash from side to side if you get too close.  A quick flick of the tail against your skin and a horde of quills can be driven in deeply.   The tips of the quills have tiny overlapping scales that work deeper into the skin. 

A porcupine averages about 140 quills per square inch, an amazing 30,000 quills!   It’s best to not get too close, and observing from a distance can provide a wonderful wildlife viewing opportunity, not generally available with faster moving animals.

The Raymond area has many wonderful places for walking with an abundance of wildlife, cultural and historical opportunities.  Be safe, walk with a buddy and enjoy what the area has to offer. Click Raymond Area Outdoors for more information about the local Raymond Area Outdoors group and to sign up to receive Meetup notices of upcoming activities.


























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