American Porcupine
Erethizon dorsata


Regional distribution map of Erethizon dorsata

Erethizon dorsata.

Erethizon dorsata. Photographer: Gerald and Buff Corsi. Kalispell, MT. Copyright © 1999 California Academy of Sciences.



Porcupines are nocturnal animals that also exhibit some crepuscular activity. They spend most of the daylight hours in trees or large bushes. If a porcupine becomes alarmed, it will retreat to the nearest shelter, exposing only its back and tail with quills erect. In addition to this defensive behavior, they will also raise their tail for flailing the attacker (Dodge, 1982). Numerous vocalizations by Erethizon are typical during the fall breeding season. The males produce grunts, whines, and shrill screeches. Females will respond to her young with grunts, whines, and tooth clicking (Dodge, 1982).

Literature Cited

Dodge, W.E. 1982. Wild Mammals of North America: Biology, Management, and Economics. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 360-362 pp.

Heather Jasso, March 2000.


Last Update: 21 Jul 2009