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The porcupine is a rodent known for its coat of sharp spines, or quills that defend it from predators. The porcupine is the second largest rodent, after the beaver. Most porcupines are about 63 to 91 cm (25 to 36 inches) long, with an 20- to 25- cm (8- to 10-inch) long tail. Weighing between 5.4 and 16 kg (12 and 35 pounds), they are rounded, large, and slow. Porcupines come in various shades of brown and the unusual white. The name "porcupine" comes from combining the Latin for pig and French for spine, hence the nickname "quill pig" for the animal.

The porcupine's chief defense is its quills, sharp spines distributed across the rodent's back, sides, legs, tail, and head. They may be as dense as 150 per square inch, giving one animal as many as 30,000 quills. Porcupines do not throw their quills; unfortunate attackers approach closely enough to be swatted by the tail or brush against the animal. Like the related ordinary hairs, porcupine quills grow back when they come out.

Porcupines occupy a wide range of habitats in tropical and temperate parts of Asia, Italy, Africa and the Americas. Porcupines live in forests, deserts, and grassland. Some live in trees, others stay on the ground.

Porcupines in search of sodium sometimes encroach on areas inhabited by people and eat tool handles, clothes, and other items that have been coated in salty sweat.

A porcupine is any of 23 species of rodent belonging to the families Erethizontidae and Hystricidae. All defend themselves with sharp spines (which are actually modified hairs) rather like those of the hedgehogs, which are part of the order Insectivora and more closely related to shrews and moles than they are to the rodents, and the echidnas, which as monotremes are very distantly related indeed.
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Erethizontidae Hystricidae
Source: Wikipedia Read more about Porcupines
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Southwest Wildlife Rehabilitation & Educational Foundation
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National Geographic
Porcupine sound clip
Canadian Porcupine
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Harry Foundalis Home Page
Canadian Porcupine
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