A bright orange spot in the drab, post-autumn woods caught my eye. It seemed to be fresh tree damage.
Moving closer, I discovered that it was a large, healthy maple. But the bark was peeled from the root level to about two-and-a-half feet high. Only the bark was peeled, no gouges – the work of an expert.
A thick layer of small bark chips surrounded the tree.
Leaning in for a better look, grey and white quills stood out against the rich browns and oranges of the chipped bark ground cover.
I scanned the trees in an unsuccessful attempt to spot one.
Back at home, I looked at the Wisconsin DNR website to find out more about porcupines:
- Winter diet – bark of pines, hemlock, maples and birch; needles and buds of pines.
- Where to find porcupines in the winter – near small piles of freshly-snipped branches; in caves and hollow logs; in an area with fecal piles and/or smelling of concentrated urine.
- They travel the same paths daily.
- The fisher is the porcupine’s only significant predator.
- The mostly silent porcupine sounds like a cross between a piglet and a crying baby.
- And from a Northern State University site (South Dakota):
- They don’t hibernate, they eat at night, and smell strongly of old sawdust due to their diet.
Visit the above links to find out many more interesting facts.