Let’s just dive right in. How much must it suck to birth a porcupine?! Yeah, bet you never thought of that before.
Luckily, nature has addressed this issue. But for suspense, I’ll save the solution to this prickly problem for the end. First, let’s cover a little background knowledge about our splintery mammalian cousins.
Porcupines are big rodents, kind of like beavers. In fact, a porcupine’s front teeth are just like that of the beaver. They are found in North America, concentrated in Canada and Alaska. Their rumps are covered in quills that lay down towards the rear. When the porcupine becomes agitated and feels the need to defend itself, it bows its back up like a cat. Its quills raise up in a primed a ready position.
Quills are modified hairs that are reinforced with lots of stiff keratin. They can grow in clusters or can be evenly spaced out, depending on the species. Quills are embedded in the muscles directly beneath the skin. Since the quills are akin to hair, they can fall out as part of a natural replacement cycle, or they can be pulled out by force. These lethal weapons conjure images of blood and strike fear in the hearts of people, making the porcupine one of the most misunderstood animals around.
Being attacked by a porcupine and ending up with painful quills sticking out of your flesh is a highly improbable event. Porcupines are slow and lumbering creatures. Moreover, they cannot shoot out their quills. If an animal sees a porcupine as prey and throws its own body upon it in an attack, quills will become lodged in it. But a porcupine has no ability to shoot out its quills like Spiderman does spider webs. When you combine this revelation with the fact that porcupines cannot chase you down, the only thing you have to worry about is accidently stumbling upon a porcupine. And if that happens, well, it’s just in the cards.