A prickly affair!
By our researcher – Sander Vissia
Did you know?? That the porcupine is actually a rodent?
Did you know?? That porcupines are monogamous (meaning they mate for life)?
Did you know?? That it is rare to see porcupines mating in the wild and that it is quite a challenge to make this happen?
Porcupines are known for their sharp quills which are important for defending themselves from predators. They can raise them and rattle them but, despite some stories, they can’t shoot them when threatened.
So how are porcupines able to mate with each other without hurting themselves (especially the male)?
Before the mating starts the female will raise her quills and flatten her tail against her back after which she will present her backside to her partner. The male porcupine will lift his front paws of the ground and will walk towards the female on his hind legs. Since the female porcupine’s tail is between the male and her quills the male is protected from hurting himself. The male uses his front legs to grip her tail for balance and since porcupines have a relatively long penis that facilitates mating he doesn’t need to get really close to the female which will also help with protecting itself.
Felicioli et al (1997) found that male porcupines often mated daily with their female partner even if the female was not in heat. A possible reason being that mating strengthens pair bonds.
So, when we capture this special moment of two porcupines mating we obviously wanted to share this with you all!