The next animal in our Tucson Festival of Books roundup is Rue, a North American Porcupine, and a resident of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Thank you to Robin Kropp, Education Specialist from the Museum, for taking the time to show us Rue!
Rue is around six years old and guess where she was found… Downtown Tucson, on a porch! Being a desert dweller for most of my life, that really surprised me. I never would have guessed porcupines lived in Tucson.
Rue weighs about 22 pounds. North American Porcupine’s can vary in size and color depending on where they live. You can see a map of the range of the North American Porcupine on National Museum of Natural History’s website.
In the southern United States, like in Tucson, these porcupines are smaller and of lighter color than those that live further north.
As soon as Rue stepped out of her kennel, I fell in love with her. I felt like the emoji with hearts in her eyes. You know, like this: ?.
Look at Rue’s precious face! Look at it!
Porcupines can live 15-18 years. In the wild, these tree-climbing rodents consume the sweet inner bark of trees, bugs, leaves and flowers. Porcupines can retreat up trees to escape predators or wedge themselves into a hole and use their quills as protection.
A brief digression, for all you porcupine lovers:
Rue’s quills are hollow and have small barbs on the end, which allow the quills to burrow deep into the predator’s flesh. A porcupine has about 30,000 quills all over her body except her face, belly and paws. They shed their quills like hair and regenerate more.
Porcupines usually give birth to one porcupette, but occasionally have two porcupettes. That’s really what they’re called!
The young are soft when they are born and then the quills harden a couple days after birth. Porcupines are very solitary animals and not very attentive to their young. These creatures do not have a good sense of sight however they have an excellent sense of smell.
I read a funny thing on Wikipedia about porcupines, but couldn’t find it’s original source. Usually that means I won’t quote it, but I think this is too funny to pass up.
“The porcupine is the only native North American mammal with antibiotics in its skin. Those antibiotics prevent infection when a porcupine falls out of a tree and is stuck with its own quills upon hitting the ground. Porcupines fall out of trees fairly often because they are highly tempted by the tender buds and twigs at the ends of the branches.”
Isn’t that adorable/cute/sad/adorable? Not sure if it’s true, but definitely adorable
What do you think of the beautiful Rue? Of porcupines in general?
One of my favorite memories of porcupines is from the movie, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. Did you ever see that movie?