Porcupines are becoming an increasing problem for dogs and cats throughout parts of the country. The thorny rodents are attracted to garbage, and like raccoons, coyotes, skunks and opossum have become more bold at raiding our trash.
Porcupines spend a lot of time in trees, away from even tree-climbing cats and certainly nowhere near dogs, but as they wander through backyards they increasingly meet up with pets. Porcupines are herbivores and no threat to dogs or cats, or for that matter people, unless they feel threatened. They're mostly nocturnal. Porcupines out during the day are generally desperate for food, ill or both.
If attacked or even if they merely feel threatened, the porcupine doesn't throw quills (as some believe) but instead backs up against the assailant, and dozens of quills detach from the rodent's skin and remain embedded in the attacker. Backing up several times a porcupine may release hundreds of it's 30,000 quills.
If hit in the face (as usually happens) a predator such as a wolf, bobcat or mountain lion could die of starvation - as their is no veterinarian in the wild to remove the quills. Sometimes animals are blinded. The quills typically don't easily pull out because of a barb that makes them stick into the animal.
For the most most part, veterinarians report rarely treating cats with quills stuck in them; dogs, however, seem to meet up with porcupines more often. And they rarely walk away unscathed.
While the problem is a thorny one throughout much of the country, especially where sprawling suburbia (where porcupines once called home) meets the woods. In Texas, in particular, the problem is worse than ever. The drought there could have something to do with it.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.