Lookin' Sharp: Meet Our Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine

Lookin’ sharp, kid! Prehensile-tailed porcupines Beatrix and Quillbur recently welcomed their second offspring. Small Mammal House keepers reported for duty Jan. 4 and discovered Beatrix had given birth overnight. They are encouraged that the 2-week-old porcupette bonded with mom and is nursing well and gaining weight. Our team is looking forward to learning if the newborn will take after Beatrix, who is relaxed and easy-going, or be more active and curious like Quillbur!

Boy or girl? Newborn porcupettes, whether they are male or female, look anatomically similar until they reach 6 months of age. Keepers sent quill samples to scientists at the Zoo’s Center for Conservation Genomics for DNA analysis. In a few weeks, we’ll know our porcupette’s sex!

Prehensile-tailed porcupines, like our 2-week-old porcupette, are born with the ability to climb! At birth, their quills are soft, but they harden within minutes. The name prehensile means “capable of grasping”; the underside of its tail lacks quills, allowing the porcupine to grip branches with this appendage and navigate the forest canopy with ease.