Dogs, Cats and other animals attacked by Porcupine. Death Sentence without help?

Dog meets Porcupine. :eek:

Is a porcupine attack a death sentence for animals in the wild? Coyotes, wolves, wild doges, maybe even a deer or Bighorn Ram? What would happen without human help? Would the quills ever come out by themselves?

I don’t know the answer to your question, however porcupines do not attack other animals. Their quills are a defense mechanism. Our neighbor’s dog had an interaction last year and the owners saw the dog attack the porcupine. Repeatedly. Sorta “Ouch, you bastard! I’ll show you ouch! Ouch”!

Not if they are deeply embedded enough. If enough quills are embedded to interfere with eating or walking, the animal is probably doomed.

Jim Corbett,a hunter in India who was famous for killing man-eating tigers and leopards, found that one tiger he killed had probably taken up man-eating due to an encounter with a porcupine:

While they don’t spontaneously attack other animals, they do counterattack when threatened by lashing their tails.

OK, but it is still a defensive behavior, right?

Any truth to the old wives tale that porcupines are legally protected from hunters because they are the only animal a person lost in the wild can kill with a club (to eat the meat)?

Yes, it’s defensive, but so is the bite of a venomous snake.

I’ve never heard that.

I’ve seen porcupines attacked in some of the nature shows. The predator tries to get them on their back. I’m pretty sure the belly is quill free. Can’t recall now who won the survival battle.

Took a while to remember this title, The Incredible Journey. A story of two dogs and cat trekking cross country to find their owners. One of the dogs is badly injured by porcupine quills.

Since animals are likely to get it in the snout, it could be a death sentence in a lot of cases.

Looks like apride of lions is no match for a porky-pine.

And apparently they can be killed by wolverines, who then may end up dying from eating the quills.

They are commonly predated by Fishers (a large member of the weasel family). The Fisher’s technique is, apparently, to bite at their faces repeatedly until the porkupine passes out from blood loss. Allegedly, they don’t really attempt to flip them on their backs while they are still active.

I’ve seen Fishers in the wild (twice), but I’ve never actually seen one attacking a porcupine.

To answer the OP - as noted by others above, the porcupine slaps predators or others who annoy it with its quill-covered tail, driving then solidly through flesh. This is probably the origin of the myth that they can shoot their quills like darts.

If an animal gets wacked like that, it is very likely dead without a vet’s help.

As I understand it, quills are barbed, and therefore difficult to remove, and will only work themselves deeper, making for infection, etc.

I watchep quills’ pictures on google, and they don’t look barbed, including in microscope pictures.

This is not an answer to the question, but I want to point out that as the son of a veterinarian, I find it surprising that this item got on the news. In the summer we used to remove porcupine quills everyday and dogs like the one in the picture almost every week. The worst that I have seen personally were even worse than the dog in the picture.

I see barbs in this picture.

Looks painful.

Another way the Fisher takes a Quill Pig is to knock it off a tree branch and while it is stunned from the fall get at its unprotected under side.


We used to hear that and also the same about the Spruce Grouse.
There were many urban legend type against the law story’s in the pre-internet epoch.
Another one of them was that it was illegal to hunt deer over a salt lick. The DNR knew this was widely believed by hunters and never attested to the inaccuracy of such until there was informational meetings to build support against baiting deer while hunting and thereby affirming the legality of hunting over a salt lick and not bait.
And as for Quills, I have had them stuck in the sidewalls of my tires from hitting a carcass on the road and was told that its not unheard of for the quills to cause deflation after time. No proof though.
And in the days before, a pet with a mouth full of quills would be put down out of mercy.

The article in my OP said the dog got 500 quills removed.

I wonder how long it takes a Porcupine to regrow those lost quills? Is his defenses significantly reduced until they regrow?

It probably takes a while to regrow, but their defence is mostly deterrence anyway. It is very rare that they actually have to use their quills. The mere sight of a porcupine raising its quills is usually enough to see off most predators. You can’t tell how many quills the thing actually has because they are covered with both quills and stiff hair.

It’s the same with skunks - they may have shot their load of stink, but who would take the chance?

I’m glad someone else has heard this legend.

Also, do not do what a friend did when her dog had a porcupine encounter. She called her vet to find out the cost to have quills removed. The fee for anesthesia and time was calculated, and she declined, hoping to remove them at home without anesthesia.

She and hubby worked with needle nose pliers in the garage and removed 90% of them. Then the dog decided he’d had enough. It was now late at night. They had to go to an emergency vet who charged 5X what the original vet would have charged to remove the last few under anesthesia.

Googling “porcupine quill barbs” yields plenty of images, such as this one. The tips are covered with tiny backward pointing scales that make them more difficult to pull out.

The last time somebody was discussing a dog that got a huge load of quills, I looked this up. Porcupines average about 30,000 quills. I would guess the critter is still pretty adequately defended.

When I was a kid we had a dog that got about half a dozen quills, which we yanked ourselves. Took a long time, getting the dog calmed down again after pulling each one (understandably - it must have hurt like hell).

The dog was a slow learner. A couple days later, he found the porcupine again, and got a whole face full. THIS time he went to the vet. What was really amazing is how fast the vet dequilled the dog after knocking him out. Practice, I suppose. He spent a lot longer examining the dog to make sure he got them all than pulling the fifty-some quills.