Published on October 8, 2022
Last Updated on October 12, 2023
So you have fallen in love with the cuddly but spiky North American porcupine, and you are wondering how to “get your hands on” one.
We hope you have done at least some basic research about this exotic animal so you know what you are getting into. After all, getting a pet, whether your typical cat, dog or hamster, or wild animal, is a commitment and means a lot of responsibility.
Floofmania has many articles talking about the biology and behaviors of the porcupine to help you be better prepared to meet the needs of the animal should you really be decided on taking one in as a pet.
Once you are sufficiently well-informed, we can talk about where you can buy a porcupine in the US. (Go ahead and read the articles. You can come back to this later).
If you are all set, let’s look at where you as a private individual can buy a North American porcupine as a pet:
Can You Buy A Porcupine?
Table of Contents
- 1 Can You Buy A Porcupine?
- 2 Different Ways Of Getting A Pet Porcupine
- 3 How Much Does A Porcupine Cost?
- 4 Porcupine Breeders In The US
- 5 Some Final Thoughts On Finding A Pet Porcupine
- 6 Author
Yes, you can, but you have to check a few things.
You need to confirm if:
- State and local laws where you reside do not prohibit importing, capturing from the wild, and keeping a porcupine as a pet.
- If your local regulator does not prohibit it, you still need to comply with laws requiring licenses and permits (which may need to be renewed periodically).
Keep in mind that at the county, city, or municipality level, there may be legal prohibitions and requirements that you need to comply with. Some zoning laws are specific as to what types of pets you can keep in your residence.
Generally, establishments which have scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes for keeping porcupines are subject to different regulations than you as a private individual.
They are required to register with the federal level US State Department of Agriculture for one, we talk about this a little bit more later.
For a private pet owner though, you need to check the local regulatory requirements applicable to you.
Here is a partial list of state requirements for individuals who plan to keep porcupines as pets.
|Allowed Without Permit
|Allowed With License/Permit
Please bear in mind that regulations are constantly changing. So keep updated if you are serious about having an exotic animal like the porcupine as a pet. You can check out this database on exotic pet state laws for reference.
The regulations are intended to protect not just the animal to be taken as a pet, but the local wildlife population and environment as well. In case many domestic porcupines escape into the wild, could there be potential harm to the ecosystems they might propagate in? Are there protected tree species, for example, that would be at risk?
Of course, the government also has to consider the welfare of the human communities who could potentially suffer injuries or nuisance due to exotic pets.
Porcupines in particular have the ability to cause damage to property and injury too. So it is reasonable for regulators to exercise some control over private persons trying to keep these spiky rodents as pets.
Different Ways Of Getting A Pet Porcupine
Given the porcupine’s designation as an exotic wild animal in the US, it is not surprising that it is not that easy to find legitimate and reputable sources if you want one as a pet.
Ultimately it is safest to obtain one from a breeder with valid USDA and other state and regulator licenses to breed and sell porcupines to private pet owners.
Do Pet Shops Sell Porcupines?
It is possible for a pet shop to sell North American porcupines, assuming they comply with regulations. But it is probably unlikely.
Porcupines breed just once a year and produce just one young (called a porcupette), so they are not easy to propagate in large numbers to sell quickly in a pet shop setting.
Also, they are not easy to care for in a confined space. Porcupines forage for food and need ample space to climb and explore.
Porcupines are sensitive animals with poor eyesight and if they are startled or stressed, their quills can hurt, and even be quite dangerous, even if they are still young. A busy pet shop environment would be challenging not just for a porcupette but also for the shop clerk!
Can You Adopt A Porcupine?
Quite possibly you may adopt, depending again on local regulations.
Zoos or conservation centers typically adopt orphaned porcupettes which they can hand raise, or those found injured, some of which they return to the wild.
Here is an example of an adopted orphaned porcupine (rescued by the executive director of a non-profit that promotes bear protection) that manages to get along with a pet dog.
The porcupine’s adoptive mother decided not to release it back into the wild since it had gotten so used to people and dogs, and would probably not do well on its own.
Please bear in mind though, that this is probably more the exception than the rule. The bulldog in the video seems to be an extremely gentle and laid-back pup!
Do Petting Zoos or Conservation Parks Sell Porcupines?
Some can, depending on their licenses, and if they are willing to sell to private individuals.
We have found an example of a “moving away” sale that includes North American porcupines.
The best practice is still to check compliance with any regulators to see if such a transaction would be above-board.
Are There Porcupine Breeders Out There?
There are legitimate porcupine breeders in the US and this is probably the safest way to find a pet porcupine.
What Do You Need To Look For In A Porcupine Breeder?
Porcupine breeders need to have:
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Licensing
Under the Animal Welfare Act, those who breed certain animals for commercial sale (as well as those who exhibit them to the public, like zoos) need to be registered with the USDA.
They are required to comply with minimum standards of care for exotic animals – relating to veterinary care, adequate nutrition, appropriate housing or habitat, and shelter from extreme temperatures or weather.
- State Level and Other Local Regulator Licenses or Permits
- The reputation of care for, and responsibility towards their animals
Think about your porcupine sellers like how we choose a dog breeder: based on their track record, the quality of the porcupines they produce, and their overall knowledge and concern about the animals they sell.
You would want to purchase from someone who will screen you for readiness to take a porcupine as a personal pet, and who will be willing to share knowledge and provide support, should you encounter some challenges down the road.
- Transparency in communication
A reputable breeder would be open about their licenses and permits, and their policies with respect to breeding and homing their baby porcupines. Ask as many questions as you want to assess the reliability and trustworthiness of someone you would potentially purchase from.
How Much Does A Porcupine Cost?
Porcupines listings have been in the $1,250 to $2,000 range.
The breeders we have found online “pre-sell” their baby porcupines at $1,500 to $2,000 each.
Porcupine Breeders In The US
We found two North American porcupine breeders who have websites and post about their upcoming litters for sale. Both raise various exotic pets and ambassador animals.
- Minnesota – Back 40 Game Farm & Acres of Fun Petting Zoo (www.acresoffunfainters.com)
They state on their website that 99% of the porcupines they sell go to (USDA-registered) petting zoos. They started raising porcupines back in 2012.
- Tennessee – Frazier Farm Exotics
Frazier Farm Exotics is registered with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the USDA.
Some Final Thoughts On Finding A Pet Porcupine
You can tell from the limited number of breeders that pet porcupines have not exactly become trendy or mainstream.
They are not easy to care for and can cause trouble from accidental quilling to gnawing into your walls and gardens. It will take a lot of space, resources, learning, and dedication for a private individual to properly raise a North American porcupine as a ‘domesticated pet’.
Strangely enough, you would find a lot of advertisements for African crested porcupines, which are entirely different species.
These are much larger, they don’t live in trees and they have much longer ridged spines (not barbed like the North American ones). It is probably because they reproduce faster (with more than one offspring in one litter) and so they are bred for commercial sale much more quickly.
Watch out for advertisements that call hedgehogs porcupines too. Some people use the names interchangeably but they are totally different animals – hedgehogs aren’t even rodents!
So be thorough in your preparation! Or maybe you just need to visit a porcupine exhibit or petting zoo to spend quality time with this fascinating creature.
Author: Eleanor Tan
Eleanor grew up with rottweilers and pit bulls and loved the James Herriot books about animals as a kid. She thinks animals are endlessly fascinating, and that we can learn a lot from them, all creatures, great and small.