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7 Ways to Coexist with Porcupines: Behavior Prevention and Protection

Porcupines: Understanding Their Behavior and How to Coexist with Them

If you are seeing quills strewn across your yard or evidence of gnawed bark on your trees, it might be a sign that porcupines have moved into your neighborhood. These prickly creatures are known for their ability to defend themselves with their sharp quills.

Porcupines are common throughout North America, and their behaviors and characteristics make them interesting creatures to observe. In this article, we will discuss what attracts porcupines to your yard and explore their unique characteristics and behaviors to help you coexist with these animals.

What Attracts Porcupines to Your Yard


Porcupines are known for their love for trees. They eat the bark and twigs during the winter months and switch to eating leaves and buds during the spring and summer.

Certain tree species are preferred by porcupines, such as willow, spruce, fir, and pine trees. Therefore, if you have any of these trees growing on your property, you may be more likely to attract porcupines.


Porcupines are also attracted to salt, which can be found extensively in wooden objects, including tool handles, winter tires, boats, sheds, docks, or anything that has been exposed to salt. These objects can attract porcupines and keep them coming back to your yard if you are not cautious enough.

Rock Ledges and Caves

Porcupines are known to prefer hiding out in the natural crevices and caves in rocks. If you have any rocky areas on your property, you may notice porcupines residing there.

Additionally, if there is any abandoned dense burrow on your property, the porcupine may choose to make it a new home.


Porcupines also enjoy eating the vegetables grown in gardens. Their sharp teeth and strong jaw make it possible for them to easily gnaw through various garden vegetables, such as lettuce, carrots, and turnips.


Porcupines typically live solitarily, but they do look for mates annually. During mating season, the female porcupines emit a high-pitched mating call as a sign of readiness.

When a male porcupine hears the call, they approach the female, and it is not uncommon for several males to fight for dominance before mating with a female.

Bird Feeders

Porcupines are notorious for taking advantage of bird feeders. They will scale the pole, climb up the trees, or even wait until nightfall to slowly creep up on bird feeders.

Once there, they may even gnaw on the feeder itself, destroying it in the process.

Animal Dens

Porcupines seek out sheltered, enclosed areas for resting and rearing their young. They often take up residence in abandoned animal dens, such as those left behind by woodchucks or groundhogs.

Porcupine Behavior and Characteristics

Herbivorous Diet

Porcupines primarily consume a vegetarian diet. They are herbivores, and their diet can range from leaves and buds in the spring and summer to twigs and bark during the winter months.

They particularly enjoy consuming the inner layer of bark, which is soft and nutritious.

Heavy Quill Armor

Porcupines are known for their quills, which are modified hairs that cover their entire bodies. These quills act as a defense mechanism which they use to protect themselves against any potential predators.

If threatened, porcupines will turn to face their attacker, raise their quills, and stomp their feet, a warning sign that they are ready to defend themselves.

Sheltered Living

Porcupines are mainly solitary creatures and prefer to reside inside large trees or shrubs, within rock crevices or caves, or even abandoned burrows. They are nocturnal, which means that they are active at night and sleep during the day.

If your yard has these natural features, you may notice porcupines there.

Long Gestation Period

Porcupines have a long gestation period that lasts for about six months. Female porcupines emit a high-pitched mating call during the breeding season to attract a mate.

They also mark their territory with secretions and urine to attract potential mates.


In summary, porcupines are fascinating creatures that coexist with humans in North America. They are attracted to various items, including trees, salt, bird feeders, and gardens.

Their defense mechanism of quills and their preferred sheltered living spaces make them unique animals that deserve respect. If you have porcupines visiting your yard, it is important to understand their behaviors and characteristics to coexist with them safely.

With patience, care, and respect for these animals, we can all live in harmony with porcupines and enjoy their presence in our outdoor spaces. Porcupine Damage: How to Protect Your Property

Porcupines are fascinating animals known for their unique defense mechanism.

However, their presence in residential areas can cause significant damage to property and vegetation. They are capable of chewing through various materials, including wooden structures, and they can cause substantial damage to fruit and ornamental trees, gardens, and other outdoor areas that are conducive to their feeding habits.

In this article, we will discuss the damage caused by porcupines and provide some tips to keep them out of your property.

Ornamental and Fruit Trees

One of the most common problems that homeowners face when porcupines infest their yards is the damage they inflict on ornamental and fruit trees. Porcupines feed on the bark of trees, which can severely damage the tree’s vascular system, impairing its ability to absorb water and nutrients.

Trees that are commonly targeted by porcupines include apple trees, oak, birch, and pine trees. Porcupines will also feed on soft, new growth, including buds, twigs, and leaves.

To prevent porcupines from damaging your ornamental and fruit trees, you can use physical barriers such as tree wraps, 2-feet high wire mesh cylinders, or metal collars. These devices discourage porcupines from climbing the trees.

You can also use repellents or scare tactics such as shiny reflective tape or noisemakers to discourage porcupines from coming near your trees.

Wooden Structures

Porcupines can cause significant damage to wooden structures, including sheds, boats, docks, and furniture. They gnaw on wooden structures to maintain their teeth’s length and sharpness, and to obtain salt and other minerals.

Unfortunately, porcupines can chew through almost anything, including shingles, clapboards, and structural timbers. They will also chew on the sides of structures made of softer materials, such as plywood and thin boards.

To prevent porcupines from causing damage to wooden structures, you can use repellents such as predator urine, spicy products, or motion-activated sprinklers. Some homeowners may choose to erect physical barriers, such as fences made of metal or plexiglass, or to reduce the amount of wood exposed to porcupines in their yards.


Porcupines are also attracted to gardens, where they can cause extensive damage to various types of plants, both edible and ornamental. Porcupines feed on a range of plants, including bulbs, flowers, buds, roots, stalks, fruits, vegetables, berries, grasses, and leaves.

Their sharp teeth and strong jaws allow them to quickly nibble off sections of plants, and their tendency to eat the soft, juicy parts of plants makes the damage more extensive. To keep porcupines away from your garden, you can use repellents such as predator urine, blood meal, or hot pepper spray.

Some homeowners may choose to install physical barriers to protect their gardens. These barriers may be in the form of fences that are high enough to prevent porcupines from climbing over them or electric fences that create a shock when porcupines touch them.

Vehicle Damage

Porcupines can also cause damage to vehicles parked in your yard. They are known to chew on the tires of winter vehicles, including snowplows, snowmobiles, cars, and trucks, which can be costly to repair or replace.

Porcupines will also chew on wooden siding, oars for boats, outhouses, saddles, and wooden handles of tools. To prevent porcupines from causing damage to your vehicles or other structures near or in your yard, the use of repellents, scare tactics, or physical barriers may be effective.

How to Keep Porcupines Out of Your Yard

While it may be difficult to keep porcupines out of your yard completely, there are several ways that you can reduce their chances of causing damage to your property. Here are some tips:

– Remove any fallen fruit from your trees and avoid planting too many fruit trees in your yard, as they are particularly attractive to porcupines.

– Eliminate any standing water in your yard and remove any debris or hiding places where these animals can hide. – Enclose your property with a fence at least 4 feet high, ideally made of metal, plexiglass, or electric to keep porcupines out.

– Use repellents such as predator urine, spicy products, or noisemakers to discourage porcupines from entering your yard. – Maintain your vegetation by removing dead or overgrown plant matter, to limit the resources that porcupines can feed on.

In conclusion, porcupines can be a nuisance in residential areas, can cause damage to property, and pose a potential threat to people and pets, but there are several measures you can take to keep them away from your yard. Using repellents, motion-activated sprinklers, scare tactics, and physical barriers can reduce your chances of having porcupines feast on your property.

By taking some time to make your yard less attractive to these animals, you can coexist safely and harmoniously with them. In conclusion, understanding the behavior and characteristics of porcupines, knowing what attracts them to your yard, and taking steps to prevent damage to property and vegetation can help you coexist peacefully with these animals.

Porcupines may be fascinating creatures, but their presence in residential areas can cause significant damage and pose potential risks to people and pets. However, by employing preventative measures such as physical barriers, repellents, and scare tactics, we can enjoy the presence of porcupines in our outdoor spaces while protecting our property.

Ultimately, by taking the time to understand and respect these animals, we can coexist with them safely and sustainably.

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