Porcupine tracks and habits

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As some mentioned privately, yesterday’s mystery photo depicted the winter tracks of the North American Porcupine. In snow, their tracks can look oddly mechanical, owing to their measured shuffling gait and dragging tail.

North American Porcupine enjoying rare grass in February.

North American Porcupine enjoying rare grass in February. (This photo was taken a week after we found the tracks, after unusually warm temperatures. True to its nature, it was staying close to the large hemlock under which it sheltered in cold weather.)

A clue to the tracks’ maker was provided by the den and droppings under a stone bench which itself was under a large hemlock tree. The tracks went between the hemlock, the tree most favored by porcupines, to a small grove of apple trees with frozen and fermented apples in it, a valuable resource to many animals in the (usually) cold and snowy Vermont winters.

Den under stone bench.

Den under stone bench.

Porcupine droppings in den.

Porcupine droppings in den.

The day we found the tracks, the porcupine itself was in the hemlock tree, munching on twigs.

The day we found the tracks, the porcupine itself was in the hemlock tree, munching on twigs.

Happy tracking!  Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section.

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