Are Porcupines Good Swimmers? (Can They Swim At All?)

There are very few animals who make their home in the forests of North America that are as interesting and unique as the porcupine. A strange-looking animal covered in sharp quills, the porcupine might be assumed to be an animal that sticks to walking around on land.

However, this isn’t actually the case, and it has been observed that porcupines are great swimmers as well! This isn’t the case for every species of porcupine, but it is common for porcupines to be found in the water! (Porcupines even climb trees!)

What Helps Porcupines Swim?

Porcupines’ ability to swim actually comes from their quills, believe it or not. The quills are hollow, which causes them to be very light and not all dense. This helps the porcupines be able to float. Once floating, the porcupine can use its paws to paddle itself around the water.

Swimming with this method is very effective also because it’s harder for the porcupine to get tired when it does not have to work to keep itself above the water, as the hollow quills do this themselves. This makes them excellent swimmers! Porcupine quills are so buoyant, in fact, that sometimes fishermen use them for making floats!

Why Do Porcupines Swim?

A major reason that Porcupines like to swim is that they enjoy eating some vegetation that only grows in the water.

Some examples of this kind of food are water plants such as water lily and arrowheads. This food is more often than not safe from the predators that are hunting porcupines on land, which makes it an attractive option for hungry porcupines that are looking to have a safe meal. 

Does every Species of Porcupine Like the Water?

No! In fact, there are many porcupines all over the world, referred to sometimes as old-world porcupines,  that are not fond of water. However, most North American, or new-world species of porcupine, enjoy the water, using it as a place to find food. 


So there you have it! Porcupines can swim. In fact, not only can they swim, but they are particularly good at it as well! This helps them find food safely and effectively. You may have thought that porcupine quills were only for warding off predators, but these amazing little creatures can use their hollow structure to help them swim as well.

Talk about a resourceful animal! Just one more way the porcupine is such an interesting little creature that makes its home right in our backyards.

Leave a Comment