Home Animals What Eats Porcupines? (20 Animals with Pictures)

What Eats Porcupines? (20 Animals with Pictures)

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what eats porcupines

Porcupines are slow-moving, awkward creatures that are often considered to be easy prey. They are a popular food source for a variety of animals, both predators, and scavengers. Lions, leopards, hyenas, and wolves all hunt porcupines, while vultures, jackals, and coyotes often scavenge them. 

The most common predator of porcupines is the bear. Bears will eat both live porcupines. While porcupines are not the fastest or most agile creatures, their sharp quills provide them with some protection from would-be predators. 

Many animals love to eat porcupines in spite of their sharp quills. The quills are the modified version of the hairs. These quills are very loosely attached to the porcupine’s skin and they will come out effortlessly. If any animal tries to attack a porcupine, then it is damn sure to get injected with quills. The length of quills will be 10 inches long and they act as a great defense against the porcupine.

Quills can act as a defense against some predators, but they can’t give complete protection from all predators like Hyenas, Lions, Leopards, and Wolves. etc. These predators are experts in hunting and eating porcupines without getting hit by quills. 

In this article, we will tell you about all the animals what eats porcupines.

01. Vulture

what eats Porcupines

Scientific Name: Gyps indicus

Type of Animal: Bird

Range:  Europe, Africa, and Asia;

Vultures typically hunt by sight, so they’re not likely to go after a porcupine unless they’re already dead or dying. This is because porcupines have sharp quills that cover their bodies and can be very difficult to remove once they’re lodged in an animal’s flesh. When a vulture does come across a dead or dying porcupine, it will usually use its powerful beak to tear open the carcass and eat the meat inside. 

02. Jackals

jackals

Scientific Name: Canis aureus

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: Southwest Europe, South Asia, and Southeast Asia

Jackals are often considered to be scavengers, but they are actually skilled hunters. They are proficient in both hunting alone and in packs, and their diet is varied. In addition to scavenging carrion, jackals will eat rodents, snakes, lizards, monkeys, fruit, and even porcupines. While the thick quills of a porcupine may seem daunting, jackals have a few tricks for getting past them.

Jackals will try to attack the porcupine from the back, where the quills are shorter and less dense. If that fails, they will grab the porcupine by the belly and roll it over onto its back, exposing the soft underbelly. If all else fails, they will wait for the porcupine to shed its quills – which it does periodically – and then move in for the kill. 

03. Wolves

Scientific Name: Canis lupus

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: Alaska, Canada, and Russia

The wolf is the largest canine species. In the wild, they travel in packs throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The grey wolf is found most often in North America. Depending on their size, grey wolves can weigh anywhere from 60 to 115 pounds. Their fur is typically a multicolored pattern of grey, black, brown, and white. Wolves typically travel in packs of 6-10 animals when hunting. They like to kill young or sick porcupines when they go hunting.

04. Wolverine

Scientific Name: Gulo gulo

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: Canada and Alaska

The wolverine is a predator that lives in North America and mostly eats porcupines. They are animals known for killing adult porcupines on a regular basis. Wolverines live in North America and Canada in places with lots of trees. They live alone, but during the winter they get together in small family groups. Wolverines are very strong and can kill animals that are much bigger than they are without much trouble.

Wolverines will follow their prey before the assault. When they attack, they will assert a strong bite on the porcupine’s face or neck, which can be fatal. If that doesn’t work, they’ll flip the porcupine over and eat it from the bottom. Wolverines also kill and eat other animals like squirrels, rabbits, and mice.

05. Wild Dogs

Scientific Name: Lycaon pictus

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: Southern Africa and the southern part of East Africa

The African wild dog is a large dog that lives in sub-Saharan Africa. It is sometimes titled the painted hunting dog. These animals are very social and live in groups of six to twenty called packs. Most pack members are females and their young, with one dominant male providing direction.

The African wild dog is an expert hunter, using its excellent ability to smell and locate its target. As soon as they see the prey, they will chase and kill it with a neck bite. Porcupines are not the commonly preferred food for African wild dogs, but yet, they will try to catch porcupines and eat them.

06. Red Foxes

Scientific Name: Vulpes vulpes

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: Throughout the continental United States from Alaska to Florida

The red fox is North America’s common predator of the porcupines. They have their habitats in grasslands, forests, and deserts. They are adaptable to a variety of environments. Red Foxes utilize the nighttime to kill porcupines when they are most active. Red Fox has sharp teeth and claws to kill porcupine and eat their flesh.

07. Lynxes

Scientific Name: Lynx

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: Boreal forests of Canada and Alaska

The lynx is a predator that preys on porcupines and may be found in all three of these continents: Europe, North America, and Asia. The lynx will follow the porcupine for a certain duration, before jumping on it and killing it in a single neck bite.

08. Lions

Scientific Name: Panthera leo

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: Africa

Lions are the biggest animals in Africa that eat porcupines. Lions live in the Sahara Desert of South Africa. Lions catch and kill in groups called pride. The size of the Pride ranges from 3 to 40. All lions in the probe will hunt together, but a male lion dominated and eats the prey first. Other females and young lions will follow through with the left-out foods.

09. Leopards

Scientific Name: Panthera pardus

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: Africa, parts of the Middle East, and Asia, including China, India, and eastern Russia

Leopards are well known in the list of successful porcupine predators. The leopards are found mostly in Asia and Africa. It is easily recognizable by its distinctive spots. The leopard is a powerful predator, capable of killing animals much bigger than it. While hunting porcupines, the leopards will stalk themselves at a certain range. As soon as the porcupine enters this range, the leopard will jump and kill it with powerful claws.

10. Humans

Scientific Name: Homo sapiens

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: Worldwide

Eating porcupines is not common, though some cultures have inherited eating them. But people in some parts of the world, enjoy porcupine meat with great delight. The meat of porcupines is made of low fat and high protein which makes it ideal for human consumption. Humans use guns and traps to kill porcupines. Porcupines are quick movers and agile. This poses a difficulty in hunting them. However, with a proper shot, they can be killed in no time.

11. Great Horned Owls

Scientific Name: Bubo virginianus

Type of Animal: Bird

Range: throughout the continental United States, as well as in Alaska

The Great Horned Owls’ body is very suitable for hunting with specific features such as a massive head and large eyes. The ear tufts of great horned owls are actually feathers with a black color. Another special feature is that its body is decorated with brown and white feathers. This helps it to be like an invisible object while hunting. 

While hunting the porcupines, the great horned owl often waits for its prey on a perch tree until they come closer. Once the porcupine is within range, the owner will immediately swoop down and grabs the neck with its strong talons. Once the owl catches the porcupine, it will immediately, pierces the skull and kills it instantly. 

12. Gray Foxes

Scientific Name: Urocyon cinereoargenteus

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: southern Canada throughout the United States, except in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and most of Washington

The gray fox is a cunning and versatile predator throughout North and South America. One of the most notable features of the gray fox is its ability to climb trees. The diet of the gray fox is diverse, but they have been known to hunt porcupines. While porcupines are not their preferred prey, gray foxes are skilled at flipping them onto their backs and attacking their soft underbellies.

13. Fishers

Scientific Name: Pekania pennanti

Type of Animal: Mammal

Range: North America

Fishers are tiny North American cat that inhabits forests. They are skilled hunters, and porcupines are their main prey. Since porcupines are most active during the night, fishers often hunt them. Eagles secretly follow their prey until they are closer and attack it. In the case of porcupines, they will bite on the neck and kill it. 

14. Eagles

Scientific Name: Accipitridae

Type of Animal:  Bird

Range: Worldwide

Eagles are listed as top predators for porcupines. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including mountains, deserts, and forests. When hunting, eagles fly through the skies until they spot their prey. Eagles find their prey by flying in the air and once they locate the prey, immediately they come down and catch it with their talons. Eagles can kill animals that are much bigger than themselves and are exceptionally effective hunters.

15. Domestic Dogs

Scientific Name: Canis lupus familiaris

Type of Animal:  Mammal

Range: Worldwide

Dogs are not natural porcupine predators, but they enjoy searching and killing them. This is because porcupines are slow and cumbersome, making them easy prey for other predators. When a dog finds a dead porcupine, it will often eat the meat and leave the quills behind. While the quills can be sharp and painful, they are not poisonous.

16. Coyotes

Scientific Name: Canis latrans

Type of Animal:  Mammal

Range: Alaska southward into Central America, but especially on the Great Plains

Coyotes are widespread in North America and can be seen in various habitats such as wetlands, deserts, prairies, and forests. Since they are opportunistic hunters, they will eat a wide range of animals, including rabbits, deer, birds, rodents, and even fish. Coyotes normally hunt by following their target until they are near enough to attack.

17. Cougars

Scientific Name: Puma concolor

Type of Animal:  Mammal

Range: from Canada south to Patagonia

Cougars are at the top of the list for hunting porcupines in North America. They are usually habituated From Canada to South America, they reside in forested and alpine terrain. Cougars often track their target when chasing porcupines before pouncing and devouring them with a single strike to the neck or back. Cougars also kill and eat fresh porcupines in a different way by tearing into the animal’s stomach with their razor-sharp claws.

18. Bobcats

Scientific Name: Lynx rufus

Type of Animal:  Mammal

Range: from southern Canada, down through the USA to northern Mexico

Bobcats have their habitats in North America and they are present in wild as well as desserts. They are expert hunters and can leverage any opportunity to capture their prey. Bobcats often hunt during the night. They have excellent hearing, vision & rapid movement at night which adds to a great advantage. Although they have been reported to attack porcupines, they usually only do it in times of extreme hunger.

19. Bears

Scientific Name: Ursidae

Type of Animal:  Mammal

Range: North America, South America, Europe, and Asia

Bears are popular for eating porcupines quite often in the wild. Bears will eat the whole porcupine including quills. Bears are not bothered by the quills because their thick skin prevents them from being pierced. Bears can quickly locate a porcupine with their smelling power and eat them.

20. Badgers

Scientific Name: Meles meles

Type of Animal:  Mammal

Range: Great Plains region of North America

Predators like badgers will enjoy eating porcupines. Due to their thick coats, they can tolerate being pricked by the quills. Badgers frequently turn porcupines over so that they cannot defend themselves with their quills. When porcupines are turned with their quills towards the ground the badgers will then bite the head of them. 

FAQs

What is the natural predator of a porcupine?

Wild porcupines are well-defended by their quills. Depending on their habitat, predators may target them. Ocelots, pumas, mountain lions, bobcats, fishers, coyotes, wolves, wolverines, and lynxes hunt porcupines. Great horned owls hunt on porcupines in some locations.

What do porcupines eat in the summer?

Porcupines eat shrubs, crops, flowers, clover, leaves, acorns, tender Spring and summer twigs, roots, seeds, buds, and leaves. In winter, they eat hemlock, birch, beech, aspen, elm, oak, willow, spruce, fir, pine needles, and bark.

Where do porcupines live?

Porcupines are native to Canada, the northeastern and western U.S., and northern Mexico.

What eats porcupines in the rainforests?

Fishers, wolverines, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, and bobcats hunt New World porcupines. Eagles and owls hunt porcupines. Lions, leopards, caracals, hyenas, and dholes hunt old-world porcupines.

Do porcupine quills hurt?

Porcupine quills are unpleasant and can cause infection if not treated soon.

Final Words

There are a number of predators for porcupines that can easily protect themselves from the harmful effects of quills and eat them. Even though quills are spiny and porcupines are difficult to catch, they have remained a favorite food for many animals.

Cheetahs, leopards, and lions are all skilled to kill and eat porcupines. African wild dogs on the other hand will also wait for an opportunity to kill porcupines. Coyotes, Wolves, and Foxes will feast on an injured and dead porcupine. Bears, Owls, Raccoons, and eagles are another set of porcupine predators. Many animals rely on porcupines for food, despite the fact that they are spiky and tough to capture.


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Rahul M Suresh

Visiting the Zoo can be an exciting and educational experience for all involved. As a guide, I have the privilege of helping students and visitors alike to appreciate these animals in their natural habitat as well as introducing them to the various aspects of zoo life. I provide detailed information about the individual animals and their habitats, giving visitors an opportunity to understand each one more fully and appreciate them in a more intimate way.

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