Porcupine Eating Habits

porcupine eating habits

Do you want a better understanding of porcupine eating habits?  There is one thing you really need to know:  SALT = DELICIOUS!  Yes, that is really the key.  Porcupines crave salt.  Anything salty is something they will eat.  Now, they don’t eat just salt, but the search for salt amounts to almost an obsession and governs their actions much of the time.

Porcupines are vegetarians and eat almost any plant material, but, particularly during the winter months, trees are special favorites:  bark, branches, leaves, buds, twigs and such are commonly eaten.  Many trees are killed by the voracious habits of porcupines. 

Because porcupines are rodents, their two large, strong front teeth grow throughout their lives and must be kept worn down.  Combined with a lust for salt, this need sometimes produces “eating” behaviors that can mystify the less-informed.  Why would a porcupine want to eat the handles of tools like axes and shovels?  What about boat oars?  Saddle cinches?  Car wiring?  Salt!  All salt.  Sweat is salty and found on tools and oars.  Horses sweat, too, and the rigging of saddles and other tack will be permeated with salt.  Even the undersides of cars pick up salt from roads.  It isn’t that porcupines are interested in the electrical system of your car.  They are just salt hungry.

Once a porcupine has selected a meal site, they become are very single-minded.  Most people will not brave an encounter with a porcupine.  The animals are not aggressive, but will defend themselves.  They are hungry and want salt and will not be easily persuaded to leave.  If you have one on your property and damaging your plants, trees or tools, you will need to call a professional for safe porcupine removal.