I’ve always liked porcupines and their cute way they waddle through the forest. They seem to be always on their way to someplace. I decided they really are my favorite Alaskan animal after reading about them in Richard Nelson’s Make Prayers to the Raven, a book about Koyukon Athabascans and their views of the land and its inhabitants. Here’s an excerpts from Nelson’s entry on porcupines.
|North American Porcupine up in a tree.
‘ The porcupine is called dikahona, “stick eater,” or ligidza, “that which is crooked,” referring to its humped back…. Porcupines are great wanderers despite their labored gait, as anyone knows who has followed their tracks winding almost endlessly through the forest. They are given a special power to know the landscape….For the Koyukon, no animal is just that and nothing more. Even the least imposing of creatures, those that seem insignificant from the lofty perspective of humanity, have dimensions of being that extend far beyond the realm and power of the senses. It is not a world where humans may become too proud, for nothing that lives is truly humble, regardless of how it may appear.’
|Porcupine coverage from National Geograhic
True to their nature – they are everywhere. Nowadays when I see one I think of Johnny Cash’s song, I’ve Been Everywhere!
Being an Athabascan I grew up being curious about animals and stories of their antics, characters, and how they interact with each other. In this book, Nelson also mentions that locals have a long belief that porcupines and bears are cousins of some sort since porcupines will take up residence in a bears den.
I just love the giant quills on these guys! One of these days, I want to buy some of these quills to make some awesome beaded quill pieces. They’re just beautiful!
Here are a few other random facts about porcupines I gathered across the internet:
· They are the third largest rodent behind the cute capybara and busy beaver.
· They are actually unrelated to hedgehogs and echidnas, which have similar appearances.
· The word porcupine comes from old French porc espin (‘spined pig’).
· The German word for porcupine is stachelschwein which translates to barbed or prickly pig.
· The Old Italian word for porcupine is porcospino which translates to spined pig.
· American Indians use the guard hairs to make roaches, traditional quillwork and modern beadwork.
· Porcupines in North America are good climbers, while the African ones don’t climb.
· African porcupines have jumbo quills compared to North American porcupines.
· A single North American porcupine can have as many as 30,000 quills.
· Porcupines are herbivores and frequently dine on tree bark while they sit in trees.
· Porcupine babies, often called porcupettes, are born with soft quills that harden after birth.
· Porcupettes grow up and move out on their own in as little as 2 months!
· The average lifespan of a porcupine is 5-7 years.
|Porcupine hair roach
|Some interesting porcupine crafting links to explore
The Crazy Crow’s Porcupine Roach Craft Focus Page
Enchanted Learning Porcupine Printout for Kids
Porcupine Roach Facebook Page
How to Make a Porcupine Roach
Native Tech’s Porcupine Quill and Hair Guide
Porcupine Quillwork Video
Flickr – ‘Quillwork’ Photos
Flickr – ‘African Quills’ Photos
Some entertaining porcupine videos
Porcupine vs Leopard
…..and the vvinner is porcupine of course! The look on the leopard’s face after he first tries batting at porcupine is hilarious (“stuff just got real!”)
Porcupine who thinks he’s a puppy
Aww, a cute video of local Alaskan animal celebrity Snickers.
Porcupine vs. Lion
Porcupine vs. Honey Badger
Sorry porcupine, honey badger doesn’t care!
Another celebrity porcupine
Meet Teddy Bear the Talking Porcupine
A baby porcupine eating a banana with the hiccups
He hisses, chatters and waddles away.
Wikipedia porcupine article
Native Tech’s Porcupine page
Porcupine Online Dictionary Entry
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Porcupine page
Alaska Dept.of Fish & Game’s Porcupine page
Porcupine map: National Geographic
Flickr Creative Commons License: Quinn.anya
Flickr Creative Commons License: Eric Kilby
Porcupine in Tree
Flickr Creative Commons License: lesliepear
Flickr Creative Commons License: Chrys Omori
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