July 2, 2013
On May 10th, the Perkins Wildlife Center welcomed its newest member: a 10-day-old porcupine who has since been dubbed Lancelot! He came to us from Pennsylvania and at the time weighed only 400 grams and was still drinking formula. Our wildlife specialists took turns taking him home every night so that we could continue his around-the-clock feedings since just like a human baby he needed to eat every 3 to 4 hours. He is now a healthy, growing 2-month-old who weighs about 1100 grams and eats a steady diet of fruits, vegetables, and rodent blocks. Once full grown, at about a year of age, he will weigh anywhere between 30 and 40 pounds! He has settled into life here in the Perkins Wildlife Center quite nicely and we are very happy to have him!
Why a porcupine at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History you may ask? As most know, we care for a collection of over 80 native Ohio animals, but many don’t know that porcupines were also once found in Ohio. They had a vast range over much of the northeastern United States, but were extirpated from Ohio due to deforestation in the 1800's. They have remained common in the expansive forests of nearby Pennsylvania. It is theorized that there might be porcupines in Ashtabula and Trumbull counties.
We are very excited to welcome Lancelot to our collection as an animal ambassador who will be able to go to educational programs and meet and greet the public to help educate them about porcupines. For example, many people are under the misconception that porcupines can shoot out their quills as a means of defense against predators. This is not exactly how a porcupine defends itself. They do have quills that become barbs when stuck in a predator, but they cannot shoot them out. What a porcupine will do, however, is smack a predator with his tail where the majority of his quills are and thus the predator will end up with the quills embedded in his body. And a porcupine doesn't only have quills on his tail. They actually have them all over their body except on their stomachs.