Prickly P.R.

 

Porcupines have gotten such a bad rap lately — and yes, some of them do girdle and kill backyard trees in pricy subdivisions — that it’s time to make amends to these thorniest of large rodents, says Colorado Outdoors, the colorful publication of the state’s Division of Wildlife. Porcupines are handsome in an outlandish way, and perhaps because they tend to waddle, they rarely go looking for trouble, preferring to hang out by themselves. But when a winter turns really snowy, several “quill pigs,” as the French named them, will den together in hollow logs, trees or under houses and barns. Wherever they gather, they’re called a “prickle,” and the baby porcupines are delightfully dubbed “porcupettes.” Many Native Americans like to use porcupine quills to decorate clothing and make jewelry, but nowadays they can do it without harming porcupines or themselves. You still have to get close to the porcupine, but just tap the animal — gently — on the back with a Styrofoam paddle, and the quills will detach and stick fast.

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