The porcupine is one of the largest rodents in North America - only the beaver is larger. Observations of porcupines in recent years have become relatively uncommon and DFW is soliciting sightings from the public. In California, porcupines are most common in montane conifer and wet meadow habitats, and can be found in the Coast Ranges, Klamath Mountains, southern Cascades, Modoc Plateau, Sierra Nevada, and Transverse Ranges.

Equipped with a coat of long quills, porcupines are very distinctive in appearance. Adult porcupines normally weigh between 9-13 pounds, although some have been reported to weigh nearly 37 pounds!

Porcupines are herbivores. During spring and summer, they consume a varied diet of grasses, forbs, shrubs, wetland plants, and some agricultural crops. In winter, their diet consists largely of twigs, bark, and the cambium of hardwood and conifers trees. Porcupines can girdle trees, and observations of shiny, white stems and limbs during the winter are a good indicator that porcupines are in the area.

If you see a porcupine during your travels throughout the Golden State, DFW would like to hear from you.


Photo of Porcupine by Gerald and Buff Corsi
© Gerald and Buff Corsi - CA Academy of Sciences, all rights reserved

Wildlife Branch - Wildlife Diversity Program
1010 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, CA 95605