Facing Winter Head On 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 Porcupines in the winter live by feeding on pine needles and the inner bark of 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. 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.