Porcupines are well-known for the defensive quills they have scattered across their body. However, something not a lot of people realize is that everything you see will be a quill. Instead, porcupines do have a lot of normal hair.
North American porcupines have, on average, around 30,000 quills covering their body. Unless the porcupine feels threatened, then these hairs will mostly be laying flat on their body. In fact, while they do not feel the same as standard fur, it will almost look like fur from a distance.
The bulk of the porcupine’s body will be covered in these quills. However, between their quills will be soft fur. This soft fur is going to be pretty much the same as any other rodent’s fur. So, if you have ever seen a rat or a mouse and touched them, then the fur of the porcupine will feel pretty similar to that.
The fur will be all over their body. However, the quills will only be located on their back, the sides of their torso, and their tail. This is because these are the areas that the porcupine will need to defend the most.
Do porcupines shed their fur?
Just like almost all animals with fur, porcupines do shed their fur. They will also shed their quills.
Most of the porcupine’s shedding will take place during the summer months. They will also be shedding their quills at the same time. They shed the same way as you or me. This means that the dead hair will just fall off of their body and new hairs will start to grow in the hair follicles. Their quills often have to be shaken loose due to how thick the quills are.
Are porcupine quills hair?
Yes, they are.
Porcupine quills are made from keratin, the same protein that hair is made from. They grow in exactly the same way as the hair on a porcupine too. This means that they come out of hair follicles, albeit hair follicles that have evolved to produce these quills. If the porcupine has to shed its quills, then they tend to grow back pretty quickly, just like any other type of hair.
So, while porcupine quills only share a few similarities in appearance to hair, they are still hair. They are just hairs that have evolved to be defensive as opposed to providing warmth for the animal.