Can porcupines shoot their spines?

Have you ever faced a situation where you got a goosebumps or all your body hairs stood on their ends? It can be any situation of excitement, nervousness or fear. Well, just the way our body hairs stand on end in certain situations, Porcupines can also have their spines or quills standing when faced with danger.



  • Porcupines are mammals belonging to the order of rodents.
  • There are majorly two identified groups of porcupines known as the old world porcupine that used to belong to the family of Hystricidae and the next identified group known as the new world porcupines that belong to the family of Erethizontidae.
  • Porcupines are, on average, 60 to 90 cm long with 20 to 25 cm long tails.
  • Porcupines are known to weigh about 5-16 kg approx.
  • Porcupines are herbivores.
  • They are nocturnal animals; this means they are active at night compared to daytime.
  • Porcupines stand out among all other animals due to their unique defense using quills or spines.
  • The defense mechanism of porcupines is based on mainly three properties – scent, sight and sound.
  • When a porcupine is irritated or agitated it shows four type of reactions – quill erection, teeth chattering, emitting of odour and the final step, attack.

Can porcupines shoot their spine?

  • No, porcupines can have erectile spines or quills as a reaction to a dangerous or vulnerable situation, when they feel scared or agitated. But they do not have the ability to shoot out their spines.

Fun Facts:

  1. Porcupines are known for their quills. They are covered in quills almost in every place on their body except the belly, face and feet area.
  2. It is estimated that on average, a porcupine has about 30000 quills.
  3. Humans use these quills for creating handicrafts and decorative items.

Related Questions:

  1. What are rodents?
  2. What are goosebumps?
  3. How does a porcupine attack?

True or False:

  1. Porcupines are reptiles.
  2. Porcupines belong to the order of rodents.
  3. Porcupines are nocturnal.
  4. Porcupines are carnivorous.
  5. Porcupines can shoot their spine.

Objective Quiz:

  1. Porcupines are known to be _____.
    1. Carnivorous.
    2. Herbivorous.
    3. Both 1) and 2).
    4. None of the above.
  2. Porcupine’s defense mechanism is based on ______.
    1. Sight.
    2. Scent.
    3. Sound.
    4. All of the above.
  3. ______ means more active at night as compared to the morning.
    1. Nocturnal.
    2. Herbivore.
    3. Carnivore.
    4. All of the above.
  4. Porcupines have erect spines when ________.
    1. Agitated.
    2. Sleepy.
    3. Calm.
    4. Eating.
  5. Porcupine belong to the group of _______.
    1. Rodents.
    2. Camel.
    3. Horse.
    4. None of the above.

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