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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Baby porcupine is here to add “porcupette” to your vocabulary

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor


A baby porcupine is known as a porcupette. It’s the cutest vocabulary word you’re likely to use today, as we’re confident you’ll be sharing this little face with everyone you know:

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Born last Friday, May 15, this North American porcupine baby, whose sex is not yet known, weighed just over a pound at birth. It’s now pushing about 1.5 pounds (700 grams).

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

We thought of a few other things that weigh 1.5 pounds, but 175 packets of sugar, or four and a half bananas, or a small pineapple don’t stand up to this cuteness—though the pineapple may give it a run for prickliness.

The resemblance is uncanny.
(left) A porcupine baby at Woodland Park Zoo in 2013, photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo. (right) Growing pineapples, photo by Roman Lashkin via flickr Creative Commons.

About that prickliness. We get asked the question a lot and let us assure you—porcupettes are born with soft quills. They start to harden just a few hours after birth. 

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

For now, the baby is living with mom, Molly, in a behind-the-scenes den in Northern Trail. Molly leaves the den midday without the baby to stretch her legs and enjoy a feeding in the public exhibit. The father, Oliver, is temporarily in an adjacent exhibit to give mom and baby some space. 

The baby will soon begin venturing into the public exhibit with mom—it could be as early as this weekend!

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Born with eyes open, porcupettes become active right away. You can see this little one on the move, making its way to its favorite napping spot in this video clip.  

View video on Instagram: https://instagram.com/p/284lhtpQaR


It’ll rapidly become more coordinated as it grows. Natural tree dwellers, their climbing instinct takes hold within weeks of birth. If you can climb, you can forage, and the little ones develop this skill early as they start to wean themselves from mom and transition to a diet of leaves, twigs and bark.

Photo by Jenny Pramuk/Woodland Park Zoo.

You may remember our most recent porcupette, Skyáana (a Haida name that means “to be awake”) who stole hearts last spring when she debuted. She is currently working with keepers on training to become part of our presentation animal program for up-close animal encounters. Look for her in future programs coming soon!

Skyáana, now being trained as a presentation animal, nibbles on a biscuit behind the scenes.

3 comments:

  1. She/he is beautiful! Was there a bit of a photo shoot in the porcupine enclosure this morning, featuring the newborn?

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    1. There was indeed! We invited press out this morning to see the little one get weighed by its keepers.

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  2. What a little cutie! I dealt with a lot of porcupine adults as an Animal Services Officer in SW Washington but never got to see a baby. Thanks for letting us see him, (her?), and helping us learn more about these interesting creatures!

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