The word porcupine means thorny or quill pigs, but don’t let this confuse you. They are not pigs, but rodents.Porcupines are the third largest rodent in the world, and they are related to the beaver, mice, and rats.There are several species of porcupines. Some species are excellent swimmers, while others are great climbers. Regardless of species though, all porcupines shuffle on the ground.Porcupines have poor eyesight, but they make up for it with their great sense of smell.Porcupines communicate with one another by screeching, whining, and grunting.Porcupines are famous for the quills that grow on their body. There are at least 30,000 of them. Some people believe that porcupines shoot their quills as self-defense. That is false. The truth is that they slap their tails and push the quills into their enemy’s skin.Small hooks and scales cover the tip of each quill. That’s why when you get poked by one it’s very difficult to remove. So be careful.The tips of a porcupine’s quills have an antibiotic that prevents infection if you get poked.A porcupine’s natural enemy is the fisher, along with wolves, owls, coyotes, and cougars.Porcupines easily lose their quills during fights, but they get replaced by new ones. Porcupines are nocturnal creatures. That means they are active during nighttime.Porcupines are herbivores. That means they only eat plants. Their meals usually consist of tree barks, twigs, berries, and grass.Porcupines can be solitary creatures or live with a group.A porcupine’s home is called a den which is usually hollow logs, crannies, and caves. A porcupine’s mating ritual consists of two males fighting over a female. The winner then pees on the girl to show that she’s his. Porcupines also pee the ground to mark their territory. Porcupines give birth to one or two babies, which are then raised by both parents. After a few months, the young porcupine will leave its parent to live on its own.A baby porcupine is called a porcupette. They are born with soft quills, which harden after a few days.Porcupines can live up to 15 to 18 years.In the past, porcupine quills were used by Native Americans as decorations in their clothes and furniture.