Sometimes the most interesting trail camera captures are incidental. Such was the case with this video of a North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) grooming and napping. I had set the camera near an otter latrine just off a well used game trail in Massachusetts, with the intention of getting videos of playful, semi-aquatic mustelids. I did get a clip of a pair of otters passing through, but more remarkable was this porcupine who happened to stop for a snooze and a bath, right before the camera.
It’s unfortunate that the camera I used here takes such poor quality videos, and that the animal is overexposed. I’m going to station a better camera in this spot, just in case the animal decides to reuse its resting spot. But I thought I’d post this now, because the chances of catching something like this again are slim, and you don’t often get to see a wild porcupine grooming. I was also surprised to see it napping right on the forest floor, rather than in a tree or sheltered location.
As you can gather from the video time stamp, the animal was in that spot for about 35 minutes. I clipped out most of the napping time, but retained all of the grooming activity.
Porcupine Grooming and Napping
How does an animal covered with long quills manage to groom? Watch the video and notice how it grooms by moving its claws in a front to back combing motion. The claws are long enough to reach through the quill layer, all the way to the skin. See this picture of a porcupine’s front and hind feet here.
Here’s a closeup of porcupine quills, found at the mouth of a well used den in Massachusetts:
Roze, Uldis. 1989. The North American Porcupine. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington, D.C.