How did the Porcupine get its Name, what does it Mean in French, and where do they Live?

If you live in North or South America, start looking up, and you might find a Porcupine.

Porcupines are rodents with sharp spines, or quills, for a coat, that helps defend them from predators. They are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver.

Most porcupines grow no larger than 36 inches, and up to 35 pounds. Porcupines can be brown or grey, and sometimes white, and they are round, large and slow. The Porcupines’ spiny protection is also similar to that of the hedgehog.

American porcupines, often referred to as New World porcupines, quill pigs, or hedgehogs, make their homes in trees, and can be found throughout North and South America.

The Old World porcupines, found in parts of Southeast Asia, India, Africa, and parts of Europe, live in tunnels underground. Contrary to the nickname hedgehog, the American porcupine is not the same animal as the hedgehog, although they share some similarities.

Porcupines have become a pest in Kenya and are sometimes eaten as a delicious dish. They often search for salt licks and some get killed when they wind up on roads and get squashed by cars.

Hedgehogs are insect eaters, and porcupines are herbivores. Hedgehogs are smaller, and the coarse hairs or quills on their backs are not barbed or dangerous; touching the back of a hedgehog is often compared to handling a coarse hairbrush.

Hedgehogs are native to England and Europe, parts of Asia, and Africa. Only the domesticated hedgehog, the African pygmy hedgehog, can be found in America and is usually kept as a pet.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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