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Home > Other Critters > Porcupine


Porcupines are mammals. They are vegetarians. Many people consider porcupines to be a nuisance because of the damage they cause to trees and wooden structures. In addition to plant material, porcupines crave salt and are attracted to objects that have salty human sweat on them, such as ax handles, boat oars, etc.

porcupine in tree porcupine closeup porcupine damage to tree
Porcupines average 13 to 20 pounds. Adults have up to 39,000 quills. They make a wide variety of sounds from whimpers to screams. Porcupines are nocturnal. They spend a lot of time in the tops of trees.
bark damage on tree    
During the winter porcupines damage trees by chewing through the bark to eat the inner bark. They prefer softwood trees. They rarely kill trees.    

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Identification and Control Information (each will open in a new window)


[Photos, left to right: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service,; Paul Bolstad, University of Minnesota,;
Steve Webb, ,; Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service,

It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.