This porcupine dazzled the Young Naturalist families while we camped nearby in the MacGregor Point Park group campsites. However, upon leaving the campsites, one family that had parked close to this tree, made the unfortunate discovery that their gas line had been chewed (possibly by this same porcupine) and their car would not start. Fortunately, another family was able to drive them into town to organize repairs and transportation back to Guelph. What a cheeky little porcupine.
Here is an example of a “tree trail”. This well-used porcupine trail was found on a cedar tree near the Bruce Trail – a place that our tracking leader, Alexis had used as a sit-spot. It was a beautiful tree!
We found these quills at the base of the tree. Some were embedded in the tree and we wondered how this had happened. Did the porcupine fall out of the tree? We also found a porcupine hair. It was very quill-like. Sure enough, after following the tree trail with our eyes, we spotted a porcupine nestled into a crook of a branch, high up in the cedar tree.
At the Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve in Grey County, we found this porcupine den in a large tree. It looked like it had been used for many porcupine generations. The build-up of droppings was spilling down the front entrance like an avalanche of granular jellybeans:
According to Mark Elbroch in Mammal Tracks and Sign (page 505):
“Porcupines may accumulate so much scat in hollows where they rest that they have to burrow through their own excrement to exit and enter. Some researchers suggest that this behaviour may aid in providing shelters with insulation since winter scat is composed completely of tiny wooden chips.”*
*Elbroch, M. 2003, Mammal Tracks and Sign, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.
Porcupines make 45 degree chew marks on twigs.
This favourite porcupine tree in a mature maple beech forest showed signs of at least 5 years of dedicated chewing. The tree was still alive. Amazing.
These chew marks show how porcupines have a varied wood-based diet which includes signs made with plywood. I don’t imagine that this food choice is very good for them.
Porcupine claw marks, 4 toes on the front paws and 5 toes on the back. (Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, May 2014)
Interesting Porcupine Tracks
These porcupine tail tracks show where a porcupine made a turn-around, similar perhaps to the 3 point turn made by Austin Powers in the same-named film starring Mike Myers.