When I first saw this sign last year, I tried to imagine the continual series of day-to-day injuries that finally lead to someone putting a sign up on the porcupine habitat. I suppose it stems from the fact that they look really fluffy, and indeed are, but amidst all that adorableness are some really, really sharp quills. Perhaps zoo visitors are skeptical of just how effective those quills may be against predators? At any rate, the sign implies folks have had very educational experiences over the years, but connecting people to nature is what zoos are all about… so mission accomplished.
Speaking of educational, did you know that a baby porcupine is called a “porcupette”? That’s pretty awesome in and of itself, but it turns out they’re also super cute. I’m not sure the world needs more than one name for a baby porcupine, but I submit for your consideration “porcupup” (or “porcupuppy”), and “porcupito”. Evidently the porcupettes aren’t as soft as they look either: the zoo’s article (linked above at “super cute”) indicates that they’re born with soft quills that harden within hours of birth, so they’re ready for action right away. I suppose they need to be– they don’t have great vision, and can’t move too fast, so those quills help to discourage most predators. But they can climb trees pretty well, so they’ve got that going for them too!
Of course, during my brief research for this post, I also noticed the tidbit of information that they actually fall out of trees somewhat regularly, so maybe they’re not that good at tree-climbing. I guess they have a habit of, well, “going out on a limb” to try to get to the tender bits at the end of branches, and get too far out for the branch to support their weight. So, at some point over the last few million years, I surmise several deer and at least a couple people have gotten one heck of a surprise during an otherwise peaceful walk in the woods. And after writing that last sentence, I realized that I live in the era of the internet, and discovered that porcupines have indeed fallen on people. So… fear the skies!