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The porcupine is the prickliest of rodents. Its Latin name means “quill pig”, which is the regional American name of the porcupine. There are more than two dozen porcupine species, and all boast a coat of needle-like quills to give predators a sharp reminder that this animal is no easy meal. Some quills, like those of Africa’s crested porcupine, are nearly a foot long.
See the fact file below for more information on the porcupine or alternatively, you can download our 26-page Porcupine worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Porcupine species have some traits in common, the obvious one being the long, sharp quills that cover their bodies.
- Some porcupines grow up to 36 inches (90 centimeters) long.
- The smallest recorded one is the Bahia Hairy Dwarf Porcupine. It grows up to 15 inches (38 cm) long.
- According to San Diego Zoo, porcupines normally weigh between 2.5 and 77 pounds (1.2 and 35 kilograms), depending on species.
- Their tails can grow up to between 8 and 12 inches (20 and 30 centimeters) long.
- COMMON NAME: Porcupine
- SCIENTIFIC NAME: Hystricidae, Erethizontidae
- TYPE: Mammal
- DIET: Herbivore
- GROUP NAME: Family
- AVERAGE LIFESPAN IN THE WILD: 5 to 7 years
- SIZE: Head and body: 25 to 36 inches; tail: 8 to 10 inches
- WEIGHT: 12 to 35 pounds
Behavior and Habitat
- Porcupines occupy a short range of habitats in tropical and temperate parts of Asia, Southern Europe, Africa, and North and South America.
- They live in forests, deserts, rocky outcrops, and hillsides. Porcupines can be found on rocky areas up to 3,700 meters (12,100 feet) high.
- They are generally nocturnal, but are occasionally active during the day.
- North American porcupines use their large front teeth to satisfy a healthy appetite for wood.
- They eat natural bark and stems, and have been known to invade campgrounds and chew on canoe paddles.
- North American porcupines also eat fruit, leaves, and springtime buds.
Old vs New World Species
- Scientists group porcupines into two groups: Old World porcupines, which are found in Africa, Europe, and Asia; and New World porcupines, which are found in North, Central, and South America.
- The 11 Old World porcupines tend to be fairly large, and have spikes grouped in clusters.
- The two subfamilies of New World porcupines are mostly smaller (although the North American porcupine reaches about 85 cm or 33 inches in length and 18 kg or 40 lbs), and have their quills attached singly rather than grouped in clusters. They are excellent climbers, spending much of their time in trees.
- The New World porcupines evolved their spines independently (through convergent evolution) and are more closely related to several other families of rodents than they are to the Old World porcupines.
- Porcupines have soft hair, but on their back, sides, and tail it is usually mixed with sharp quills. These quills typically lie flat until a porcupine is threatened, then spring to attention as a persuasive deterrent.
- Porcupines aren’t able to shoot them at predators as once thought, but the quills do detach easily when touched.
- Many animals come away from a porcupine encounter without quills protruding from their own snouts or bodies.
- Quills have sharp tips and overlapping scales or barbs that make them difficult to remove once they are stuck in another animal’s skin.
- Porcupines grow new quills to replace the ones they lose.
- Female porcupines have between one and four young porcupettes, depending on the species.
- Porcupettes have soft quills at birth, which harden within a few days.
- Most porcupettes are ready to live on their own at about two months of age.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about porcupine across 26 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Porcupine worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the porcupine which is the prickliest of rodents.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Porcupine Facts
- All About Porcupines
- Old World vs New World
- Quill Puzzle
- Porcupines of the World
- Thumbs Up or Down?
- The Hungry Porcupine
- Fill It In
- Forest of Wisdom
- Stop, Think and Write
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Link will appear as Porcupine Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, December 13, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.