Porcupines do not hibernate. They will either build a nest or find a hollow log, an abandoned burrow, or a stump to protect them from severe weather. And, even though porcupines are mostly solitary, it is common to find several porcupines denning together to stay warm in winter.
Porcupines in Winter
Porcupines are predominantly nocturnal, but during winter when food is more scarce, they will forage both day and night, insulated by their quills and dense guard hairs. During winter, its foraging territory changes, and porcupines stay much closer to their dens than in spring and summer when they can more easily travel for longer distances. Their foraging territory can shrink up to as much as 80-90 percent in winter as they need to save energy, so they retain stored fat through these leaner months. In winter when leaves are scarcer, porcupines will eat the bark of trees, waiting eagerly for spring when they can replenish their fat with new spring growth.
Porcupines live for roughly 10 to 12 years, during which they will use the same den each winter. They place their droppings right at the entrance of their den to deter other animals from moving in
When Porcupines Become a Problem
Porcupines venture into residential areas for a surprising reason—they crave salt that they cannot get from their diet of leaves and bark, and there is plenty of it near humans. Some of their favorite sources of salt include car tires that have driven through salted streets, tool handles and boat oars found in sheds, horse saddles, and plywood that is glued with a sodium-based material.
Porcupines are an uncommon home intruder. If one is a regular in your yard, it is likely because of unusual circumstances such as a drought or food shortage. But, even outside your home, they can cause considerable alarm:
- They can destroy your trees by stripping them of too much bark.
- They will help themselves to your vegetable garden.
- They can damage porches, sheds, car tires, and the wooden handles of tools with traces of human sweat in their search for salt.
- They pose a health risk to pets, who can fall victim to the porcupine’s quills.
- Its presence can attract porcupine predators such as fishers.
Ridding Your Property of a Porcupine
Porcupines make strange noises. If you hear strange animal noises, notice that one or more trees are being stripped of their bark, or see small branches and feces around the base of a tree, you might have a porcupine living in your yard. Do not attempt to rid your home of a porcupine on your own.
Porcupine quills are barbed. They are not only painful, but they will also slowly work their way further into a person’s or pet’s skin unless they are removed in a timely way. Critter Control is a full-service wildlife specialist company protecting people, property, and wildlife. We know how to get rid of porcupines in a humane manner and can help you create a landscape that is no longer attractive to these creatures.