|Ξ Poem||Porcupine Notes||Song ♫|
bark of pine: During winter, the porcupine subsists mainly on the sweet, nutrient-rich cambium of the inner bark of trees. In the northern hemisphere, where pines are native, pine bark is a particular favorite.
turpentine: While the porcupine might decline to imbibe pure refined turpentine, it is quite fond of the raw ingredient. Pine sap is rich in pinene, an aromatic terpene commonly used as the basis for genuine turpentine.
wine: Like turpentine, the wine preferred by humans contains (though only in tiny amounts) an aromatic terpene, carotene, essential to our diet as a precursor to vitamin A, and an important antioxidant.
swine and pork: …except vegetarians, Jews, and Muslims, of course —and those who dislike the taste; are allergic to the meat; worry about trichinosis, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, cysticercosis, and other pig-borne diseases; or object on other grounds.
porcupine pork: Although the name "porcupine" derives from the French ‘porc épine’, meaning ‘spiny pig’, the porcupine is not a member of the pig family, nor even a member of the same zoological order.
torpid: Though capable of quick bursts of speed, porcupines are habitually among the slowest ambulatory animals around, waddling along at a top speed of barely 3 kilometers per hour on the ground, and moving even more slowly when aloft in the branches of trees.
sports: The skin of a porcupine bears tens of thousands of quills, practically everywhere but the nose, belly, and footpads. In New-World porcupines (Erethizontidae), the quills are intermingled with and in some species hidden by ordinary fine hair, whereas Old-World porcupines (Hystricidae) are dressed only in stout quills, grouped in bunches.
portly: Porcupine quills are stout hollow guard hairs, up to several millimeters thick, stiffened on the inside with a keratinous foam like the quills of bird feathers. Though soft in the womb, they harden when exposed to air within an hour after birth.
spines: The spines in some porcupine species grow to half a meter in length. When threatened, the porcupine defensively raises its quills to form an impenetrable three-dimensional abatis, and swishes its tail.
pierce: A porcupine quill is quite sharp and easily punctures the toughest hide. Its tip is covered in overlapping barbs that grip a predator's skin more tenaciously than the skin of the quill's owner holds the other end. The barbs swell out in the warm moisture of their harassers' flesh, and force the quill further in with every muscle movement. It is not uncommon for the embedded tip of a porcupine quill to work its way through the body to emerge elsewhere months later. Fortunately, the oily sebum coating the quill contains potent antibacterial agents that reduce the chance of infection.
irk: Herbivorous, sluggish, and near-sighted, porcupines are ordinarily docile, and will not unleash their quills unless provoked.
cute: Nocturnal but not at all shy, the porcupine is fun to watch, with an endearing waddle.
For more information on porcupines, see the Wikipedia Porcupine article.
The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web has an extensive natural history of the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) by Christopher Weber, and a brief profile of the Brazilian porcupine (Coendou prehensilis) by Bridget Fahey, both including pictures, references, and specimens.
The Canadian Wildlife Federation and Canadian Wildlife Service's Hinterland Who's Who has an extensive natural history of the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), including a map of its range and a sound clip of porcupine teeth-chattering.
The Woodland Park Zoo's Animal Fact Sheets has a profile of the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), including a map of its range.
New Hampshire Public Television's NatureWorks has photos and a biological profile of the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum).
The Fresno Chaffee Zoo (California) has a brief profile and a photo of the African Crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata).
The British Broadcasting Corporation's Science & Nature site has a brief profile and photos of the African Crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata).
The Smithsonian National Zoo (Washington, D.C.) has a brief profile and a photo of the Brazilian porcupine (Coendou prehensilis).
The Texas Technical University's The Mammals of Texas has a brief description of the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) by William B. Davis and David J. Schmidly.
The U.S. National Park Services' Wind Cave site has a brief description and a couple of photos of the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) by Jim Pisarowicz.
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