Porcupine 1 – The thorny digger

Meet the “Porkies”!! Wilf continues the tales of our wild neighbours and this week it’s my favourite of our nocturnal adventurers….

Our Urban Wild

Legend says the porcupine got its scientific name because the first ancient Greek explorer who saw it fell about laughing hysterically. His fellow explorers gave it the family name Hystricidae.

Nonsense, of course, the legend is newly invented. The animal was baptised under the system devised by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus for classifying plants and animals. But that ancient Greek could be forgiven – you are unlikely to bump into any weirder animal in the African bush.

Most striking is its coat of long, flexible spines and short thick quills so sharp and dense it has no way it can scratch the fleas and ticks that must luxuriate in the fur beneath.

If such a quirk of nature causes hilarity the porcupine’s next trick cuts it short. When disturbed it can in an instant erect the quills and spines covering two thirds of its upper body to make it…

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