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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Adventures of a baby porcupine

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications
Photos by: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo


Hello! If you are wondering, yes, “porcupette” is categorically the most adorable word in the English language.

We have some prickly news to share.

A baby porcupine, known as a porcupette, was born on May 7, 2016. The little critter is not yet on exhibit but has taken its first practice steps outdoors. As it grows more comfortable with crawling, climbing and exploring, it will make its official debut in its Northern Trail home soon. 

As baby explores, mom Molly is doing exactly what porcupine mothers do. She is eating a lot and leaving her baby alone in its cozy den for most of the day. During the evening and throughout the night, Molly nurses the porcupette. In the wild, this behavior of nursing once a day allows the baby to rest, but it also keeps predators from spotting the baby. Porcupines are nocturnal, so the daylight hours are used for relaxing in a burrow of grass and leaves. This is the fourth baby born to parents Oliver and Molly at Woodland Park Zoo.

As of today, the porcupette weighs just 750 grams (about the same as a chubby pineapple). Keepers tell us that they won’t be able to determine the sex of the new porcupine for a few more weeks. What we do know is that this little one is quite independent! While mom ate a lunch of lettuce and biscuits, this little cutie took the opportunity to explore the exhibit. 

We shadowed the baby as zookeeper Amy watched to be sure it didn’t get too tired. For a baby porcupine, sniffing buttercups, climbing logs and tasting leaves is hard work. After about 15 minutes of practicing some difficult log climbs and even adventuring into one of the outside dens, the porcupette made its way back to mom and the den for a well-deserved nap.

We weren’t sure if you wanted to see photos of this baby adventure, but just in case, here they are.

The porcupette explored the yard while keeping an eye on our photographer.

This porcupette shares its birthday with one of its keepers, which is just about the best birthday present you can get!

There were some curious objects in the exhibit.

The baby will nurse for about four months. Adult and young North American porcupines eat plants, shrubs, clover and grass as well as tree bark and stems. When you are this small, the grass is quite dramatic!

The porcupette makes quiet whines and grunts, but the noises are hard to hear unless you are very close to it. This is one way the porcupette communicates with mom.

A young porcupine is born with very soft quills, but after only a few hours these quills will begin to harden into sharper versions.

Porcupines are excellent climbers, but when they are on the ground they tend to waddle and shuffle along.

6 comments:

  1. "We weren’t sure if you wanted to see photos of this baby adventure, but just in case..."

    I wasn't sure if you'd want me to comment that I noticed this, but just in case... ;-)

    Also, OMG TEH CUTE IT BURNS!

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  2. Porcupette. The cutest word and the cutest baby ever. So sweet. Congratulations WPZ.

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  3. I just learned so much
    Thank you for this post

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  4. I just learned so much
    Thank you for this post

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  5. Congrats Molly and Oliver! Another adorable baby!

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