Meet Spiky, North America’s Second Largest Rodent, Who Lives in Our Yard

Brendan and I were standing in the kitchen when I said “What’s that round thingy in that tree? Do you see that?”

From a distance, it looked like a large brown balloon had landed high up on a hemlock branch in the middle of the forest that surrounds our home. We grabbed the binoculars, but still couldn’t tell what it was, except that it was not just brown, but very fuzzy, too:


Raccoon? Possum? I grabbed the zoom lens and we headed outside to get closer. Looking down at us, from very high up, was this face (the face is on the top) with two big nostrils a tiny pink mouth, hands with big claws, and a lot of fuzz. The fuzz, it dawned on us, are quills of the North American porcupine. I shall call him Spiky, I thought.


Yet, what you don’t see here are eyes. Porcupines have incredibly small eyes and poor vision. So maybe s/he wasn’t so much looking down at us, but smelling us. Or listening to us. Or getting annoyed by us.)

Obviously, porcupines spend much of their time in trees, chewing bark, their winter food. In the summer, they’ll eat all sorts of plants. Some people hate having them around, as they can destroy trees and raid the garden.

For us, it’s OK — our trees are all part of the forest, and I am happy to have Spiky around.

7 thoughts on “Meet Spiky, North America’s Second Largest Rodent, Who Lives in Our Yard

  1. yoyomar says:

    If you have any new plywood lying around, Spiky would enjoy eating that. I read somewhere that they like the glue used in plywood.

    • Joy Victory says:

      We had a second one show up last night, too. The new one was far out on a branch, basically hanging over the cliff. Eeep!

      I’ve heard that about the plywood. Also, apparently porcupines are the only species with antibiotic in their skin — to protect them from their own quill injuries when they fall from trees.

      When we had both porcupines out, hanging out in the trees, I was almost overcome with the cuteness. They’re so big and fluffy.

  2. dossenoritasymas says:

    spiky is lovely! i didn’t realize porcupines spent a lot of times in trees. i’ll spend much more time looking up while in the woods from now on! did you name the second one that showed up?!

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