Don’t let his prickly appearance deter you – Quillbur is a very friendly porcupine! Get to know our new prehensile-tailed porcupine in this Q&A with Small Mammal House keepers.
Why did Quillbur come to the Zoo?
Quillbur arrived at the Zoo in mid-October and has joined our two other prehensile-tailed porcupines at the Small Mammal House: mom, Bess, and her one-year-old daughter, Beatrix. We received a recommendation to breed Quillbur with both females and are hopeful that they will be successful parents.
What would visitors be surprised to learn about this species?
While prehensile-tailed porcupines do use their quills for protection, they don’t shoot them! Instead, their quills become piloerect, or stand on end, like a human getting goosebumps. This allows them to appear larger and intimidate their predators. If this scare-tactic doesn’t work, a porcupine will charge at a predator. Their quills have barbed ends that hook into a predator’s skin once pierced. It is a myth that they can shoot their quills.
What does he eat?
Prehensile-tailed porcupines are arboreal, meaning that they spend the majority of their lives in trees. In the wild, most of their diet consists of nuts, fruits and leaves. We replicate that diet as closely as we can at the Zoo by feeding him fruits, vegetables and assorted leafy vegetation.