My Porcupine Day

Live porcupine at dawn in tree

Ever had a porcupine day?

A day where porcupines appeared everywhere?

(Or perhaps you’ve had a squirrel day, or a deer day, or a coyote day.  Perhaps you’ve had a bear day, or a wolf day, or a raccoon day.)

Porcupine home

I have been walking in the woods a LOT the last few days.  An hour, two hours of trotting and stalking and sitting and peering into unexpected holes in trees. 

One never knows what one might find. 

Looking up at porcupine home

Does everyone know exactly what a porcupine is?  Do you know what family it belongs to?  Yes, it’s the rodent family. 

Here is a nice definition to satisfy your intellectual or scientific side:  Porcupine belongs to the rodent family. It is heavyset, nocturnal and herbivorous. Porcupine has a blunt-nosed face, small eyes, and small round ears. Its head is small and its body is 25 to 40 inches long. It weights 10 to 40 lbs. Its legs are powerful and its feet are curved claws making it slow-footed but strong. Its two large, front gnawing teeth continues to grow as long as porcupine lives.

Porcupine’s most distinguishing characteristic is its long, yellowish guard hair which covers the front of its body, while up to 30,000 quills grow from the head to the tail. The 2 to 6 inch quills are set with tiny, scale-like barbs. The North American porcupine is found in heavily wooded regions from Alaska to the northern extreme of Mexico. This animal lives in hollow logs and holes. Porcupine may look clumsy but it is an excellent tree climber. The animal’s diet consist of the bark of trees, young leaves, twigs and green plants. Porcupine loves salt and it will eat nearly anything with a salty flavor.

Porcupine’s enemies are the fisher, mountain lion, bobcat, and coyote. When threatened, its quills stand up. Porcupine places its snout between its forelegs and presents its rear to its enemies. If attacked it drives its tail against its enemy and dozens of quills detach from its body and are embedded in the body of its attacker.

A dead porcupine

First, I glimpsed the porcupine’s home.  Then I stumbled upon the dead porcupine.  Settled down next to it–OK, with a little uneasiness–trying to be respectful of the giant fellow.

My first question:  was he really dead?  Answer:  yes, he apparently was dead.  I thought, however, of the possibility that he was playing “possum”. You know, where an animal freezes and pretends not to exist. 

However, upon close examination of his unblinking almost hollowed-out eye, I determined he was dead.  He did not smell.  Which lead me to believe that a) he perhaps died during the winter and just recently thawed or b) he recently died and had not yet started to decompose.  A small pile of leaves rested on his body near the back. 

Up close to a dead porcupine (fine & silky hair mixed with sharp lethal quills)

Here is my imaginary story:  he died after living a good full life.  He looked big and old.  I believe he was a porcupine Grandfather.  (OK, he could have been a Porcupine Grandmother, but then I’d have to go back and change all the pronouns.  Plus didn’t want to disturb the porcupine and attempt to identify its sex.  No.  I probably couldn’t figure it out anyway.)

Ball of porcupine high in the tree silhouetted against morning sky

This morning I spotted a porcupine sitting high in a tree.  In less than twenty-four hours:  porcupine home, dead porcupine, live porcupine. 

‘Twas indeed the Day of the Porcupine.  The morning, noon and night of the Porcupine. 

P.S.  A Power Animal on-line site advises this as the spiritual message of the porcupine:  

Porcupines message can be sharp and get under the skin of the person that it attacks. If porcupine is your power animal learn to think before you speak. You are protected from your enemy but try not to wound others with words. You are an opportunist, sensitive, resourceful and creative. If you have been ” stung” in the past by an unkind person it is now time to let go, forgive and forget. Try not to be too defensive; you are a wonderful person when you give others the opportunity to know you.  

Hmmm….will have to think about that.  Just don’t any of you say anything mean to me right now!  You better watch it…these quills might fly!  🙂

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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12 Responses to My Porcupine Day

  1. Snoopykg1 says:

    What a great story. I am reading on my Blackberry so I am unable to see the pictures just imagined the with the story.I will review them later!
    It is interesting how those little quill jabs are thrown out at anytime or anywhere!

    Oh the images just came. Boy they sit up there and look peaceful but ready to pounce.

    Thanks for sharing

  2. I love porcupines, used to have one living under the woodshed, and had several endearing encounters with it. Years later the porcupine was replaced by a woodchuck for 2 years, and this past year, a skunk. I haven’t eyed the skunk but its fragrance waxes and wanes, and it did find my garbage recently. I like the skunk too. The smell is not too strong, and since I drew a skunk card on a medicine journey last fall, I welcome skunk in my barn. Haven’t seen a raccoon lately, but I did encounter a family in my kitchen one night. I’d left the back door unlatched and they were on a cat food raid. A mama and 4 babies. Awesome funny! I opened the door and stood aside, and they scampered out, and crouched on the hill just out of the pool of light, their eyes gleaming in a row. Perhaps I should write my own blog about the living and dead animals around the place.

  3. Barb says:

    What a fun post! And, you have first-hand pics to go with it. My latest porcupine story involves 5 year old Jack (one of my Grandsons). He was skiing a couple weeks ago when he fell. His Daddy was a few turns down the hill. When Jack looked toward Daddy for help, he noticed a big porcupine waddling up the trail toward him. Hysteria ensued – Jack told me this story while sucking his thumb in the safety of Grammy’s van. I assured him that the porcupine wasn’t a bit interested in him – in fact, probably didn’t even see him. Jack wasn’t so sure…

  4. Marianne says:

    This post is so very timely for me. Thank you for introducing the Power Animals Site. I’ll be able to use the info for a project I’m working on. Great food for thought, as usual!

  5. Jessica says:

    Aww so sad about the dead porcupine. I don’t think I have ever seen one in the wild before. We have plenty of groundhogs though.

  6. holessence says:

    Well I’ll be! Kathy, you most certainly HAVE had an amazing Porcupine Day! One of our friend’s dogs got “shot” in the face with porcupine quills becaus it got a wee bit too eager to have an up-close-and-personal look. My friend and her husband had to pull them out of her dog’s muzzle with pliers where they were deeply embedded.

    So with all of this porcupine sighting, do you think that’s your totem (power animal)? Mine is a Kestrel.

    Porcupine Totem (Power Animal)
    This totem has the power of faith and trust. The power of faith contains within it the ability to move mountains. The power of trust in life involves trusting that the Great Spirit has a divine plan. Porcupine brings us relief from seriousness and severity; a gentle reminder not to get caught in the chaos of the world where fear, greed, and suffering are commonplace. Open your heart to those things that gave you joy as a child.

    If you were to observe Porcupine, you would immediately notice its quills. These quills are only used when trust has been broken between Porcupine and another creature. Much like Otter, Porcupine is a gentle, loving creature, and non-aggressive. When fear is not present, it is possible to feed a Porcupine by hand and never get stuck by its quills. Through understanding the basic nature of this animal, you may come to understand your own need for trust and faith, and for becoming like a child again. In today’s society, this is a needed reminder to honor the wonder of life and the appreciation of each new day as an adventure of discovery.

    The porcupine has the medicine (energy) of purest innocence because it has so few enemies. Its appearance makes us speculate the quality of our own innocence. The porcupine moves and goes about its life with unquestioning faith and assurance that all things are exactly the way they should be. This animal totem meaning is perhaps the most profound of all totems.

    Porcupine Animal Totems Facilitate:

    – Trust in the higher powers that be, never questioning if the sun will rise, simply trusting that it will.

    – Re-acquaintance with our innocence; letting our guard down occasionally.

    – Understanding that vulnerability is an art form.

    – Realizing that fear, doubt and worry are useless to us.

    The porcupine holds many secrets. When it appears in your life those secrets are about to be revealed to you.

    Listen with your heart,

    Laurie Buchanan

  7. Snoopykg1 says:

    I never realized there were so many porcubines around! Maybe some bosses…LOL

    I had to look up Kestrel???

  8. Snoopykg1 says:

    Thanks to all….

    I found my totem, very interesting.

    Butterfly: metamorphosis and transformation

    Scientific research has shown that the butterfly is the only living being capable of changing entirely its genetic structure during the process of transformation: the caterpillar’s DNA is totally different from the butterfly’s. Thus, it is the symbol of total transformation. Butterfly represents a need for change and greater freedom, and at the same time it represents courage: one requires courage to carry out the changes necessary in the process of growth. Its Medicine is related to the air and the mental powers. It teaches us to find clarity in the mental processes, to organize projects or to figure out the next step in our internal growth. If Butterfly is your Power Animal or if you feel in any way attracted to it, this means you are ready to undergo some kind of transformation. Examine which stage calls your attention the most: the egg is the beginning, the birth of some project or idea. The larva is de decision to manifest something in the physical world. The cocoon has to do with “going inside”, either through insight or the development of the project or idea. The breaking of the cocoon deals with sharing the splendor of your creation with the whole world. Once you understand the stage you are on, you can discover which is the next step.

  9. jeffstroud says:

    What a wonderful journey with you and porcupine in the woods! I am glad you shared your story and sought out Porcupine message as a “Power Animal”. There must be something there for you to see or hear, or take heed too? Yet, yet just being grateful for their presence, telling a little story give their lives power….

    My power animal is the Woodpecker, which I am surround by all the time in our little wood. I tried to find the meanings for I have forgotten at the time. The other bird that is around me a lot is the Redtail Hawk: Its message is thus: “If you have hawk medicine you are a visionary and can see beyond the surface of things and situations. You are capable of looking at the big picture before making important decisions. Remember to focus on problems before trying to solve them. You are a strong and courageous person. Freedom is important to you so give yourself space in relationships. Hawk is a messenger of the Great Spirit and when hawk is seen circling above you, it is a blessing from the Creator. “

  10. Cindy Lou says:

    Fun! Lucky you to see both animals….last time I saw one in the wild was with my dog pack. Two decided to investigate further despite my angry, pleading commands – got face-fulls of quills but not too deep so they were OK. The angry part of me thought they deserved it and would be unlikely to investigate again…haven’t seen one since so don’t know whether or not they learned their lesson!

  11. Trudie says:

    Lucky you with your natural back yard, and here’s me with the urban lifestyle. I’m going to have to get outta here soon, if I have some money …

  12. Kathy says:

    Dear friends, I am glad you enjoyed this porcupine post. (Saw another dead porcupine this morning on the way down the hill, headed to town. Sad…) I love all your stories about animal encounters and power animals and porcupines. I really don’t think Porcupine is my Power Animal–but think that its appearance perhaps held a message. It may have been the Power Animal of the day! As always, your stories & sharing helped make this day extra-special. thank you…

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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