What Do They Do in Winter?

Do they hibernate?

Unlike some mammals, porcupines in the winter do not hibernate to escape the cold. Insulated by their coarse guard hairs and network of quills, the pests are often found resting on tree branches during the winter. Only the most severe weather causes these solitary animals to den together.

Winter Diet

While a porcupine does not hibernate, it will eat evergreen needles and the inner bark of trees in order to make it through the colder months. These foraging habits cause severe damage and can even kill trees. Many coniferous trees are highly toxic and require a lot of energy to digest.

As a result, the animals often spend as little time moving as possible to retain stored fat and survive through winter.

Damage

Bark and needles are low in sodium, so porcupines often use homeowners' property to supplement their winter diet.

The pests chew on wooden structures and car tires that come in contact with road salt. They may also bother tools or items handled by people, since even traces of salty sweat attract them.

Habitats

These animals can be found in yards year-round. While they commonly live in forests, porcupines can survive in grasslands, deserts, and even tundra. Backyards may also attract porcupines looking for sodium, a mineral missing from their winter diet. In addition to harming trees, these pests can damage tires while gnawing on road salt. During the summer, a porcupine is more likely to feed on garden fruits and vegetables or nuts.

Porcupine Hazards

Conflict can occur when people or pets get too close to porcupines. While these pests are usually uninterested in wasting energy during the winter, a slow, plodding porcupine will use its barbed quills in self-defense. When lodged in the skin, these can be painful and even dangerous.

If not removed completely and correctly, quills may continue to work their way deeper into the flesh, where they can puncture organs. Avoid the risks posed by porcupines in the winter by calling in the professionals at Critter Control for removal.