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Global Ideas

What do you call a group of… porcupines

It could hardly be more apt, but a congregation of these spiky creatures is called a prickle.

The needle-sharp spikes on the "quill pig", as the porcupine is known in Latin, can be up to 30 centimeters long. Contrary to once common belief, they cannot actually shoot their quills in self-defense, but they do detach easily as a means of countering predators away.

Fortunately for the mother, the quills are soft when the animals are first born, but harden within just a few days. Their design, which includes overlapping barbs, makes them difficult and painful to remove.

Porcupines grow new quills if they have to lose some in order to avoid becoming dinner, but they don't go short in the meantime, as a single animal can have as many as 30,000 prickles.

Their own tastes are modest, and depending on the species, include a predilection for bark and stems, fruit, leaves and spring buds.

North and South American porcupines are particularly good climbers and spend a lot of their time up trees. They are not terribly sociable animals, and spend a lot of time foraging alone.

The porcupine, or quill pig in Latin
Forages with spikes quietly flattened
But once challenged, they rise
To skewer mouth, nose or eyes
Off predators seeking to fatten