Porcupines chewing on wood trim or trees? Porcupines, sometimes called "porkies" or "quill pigs," are heavy-bodied, short-legged, slow, and awkward rodents, with a waddling gait. They rely on their sharp, barbed quills (up to 30,000 per individual) for defense. Call your local Critter Control office today at 800 CRITTER for effective porcupine removal and exclusion services.


Though their name loosely translates to 'quill pig,' porcupines are not related to pigs in any way. In fact, porcupines are the second-largest North American rodent after beavers. Their quills are primarily used as a defense mechanism, though, contrary to popular belief, porcupines cannot shoot them at predators. Instead, they lash their tail and embed their quills in the skin of their enemies. Each porcupine has approximately 30,000 quills on its body.


Adult porcupines grow between 25 and 30 inches (64 and 76 cm) in length and can weigh up to 30 pounds (13.5 kg).Their slow, awkward waddle is attributable to their heavy bodies and short legs. Porcupine bodies typically appear dark brown to black, and their quills may look yellowish and be fringed with white. This particular coloration ensures that even color-blind predators recognize porcupines as dangerous.


Native to the Nearctic region, the North American porcupine is found throughout Canada and lives as far north as Alaska. They are also found as far south as Mexico. Various species of porcupines are found in Africa, Europe, and Asia, as well.

Porcupines occupy many different climates and elevations, and their habitats differ accordingly. Some porcupines spend the majority of their lives in trees, while others live primarily on the ground. Most often, these rodents seek cover in open tundra, deciduous forests, or desert brush land and show preference for trees like hemlocks, oaks, ponderosa pines, and other hardwood species. During the winter, porcupines set up dens in rock crevices and caves.


Are porcupines known to enter homes or yards?
As herbivores, porcupines do not wander onto residential properties for the same reasons as most animal pests. The rodents eat a variety of herbaceous plants, tree barks, twigs, and leaves, and the most important nutritional element they derive from this diet, which is essential to porcupine health and survival, is nitrogen. To get enough nitrogen, porcupines are known to chew on things like the wooden handles of tools, manmade wooden structures, and accumulated roadside salt runoffs.

If they are getting enough sustenance in nature, porcupines remain innocuous. However, if food sources are limited, as they are during the spring and summer, porcupines will absolutely invade yards, though they rarely wander inside homes.


Do porcupines harm people or property?
Though they play an important role in the ecosystem, porcupines makes pests of themselves more often than their presence is beneficial. Their consumption of tree bark directly affects the lumber industry as many trees are rendered unusable by porcupines. As their stripping of tree bark leaves sapwood exposed, porcupines actually open trees up to beetle infestations and disease.

Additionally, porcupines are occasionally responsible for significant losses in the agricultural industry when they feed on fruits, sweet corn, alfalfa, or small grains. They may destroy automobiles and the siding on cabins and other structures while gnawing in search of sources of nitrogen. Porcupines and their quills are also a danger to pets, especially dogs who haven't yet learned to avoid the prickly rodents.

Control and Safety

For the most part, porcupines wander onto lawns for the trees. To help reduce the chances of an infestation, property owners may enclose the tree trunks with wire baskets or bands of aluminum. For orchards, gardens, and other large groups of trees, fences are a much more suitable option. Porcupines are excellent climbers by nature, so effective fences should include overhangs around the top that sit at a 65° angle. Additionally, certain wood preservatives may be applied to exterior plywood to discourage porcupine gnawing.

Trapping and Removal

Porcupines are dangerous wild animals and should not be handled by untrained individuals. If the pests infest your yard, the best method of porcupine removal is to call the wildlife specialists at Critter Control. We have the knowledge, resources, and tools to safely and properly handle porcupine infestations.

We can help you get rid of porcupine problems.  Call today: 1.800.274.8837.