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The Milwaukee County Zoo Announces
Birth of Prehensile-tailed Porcupine

Prehensile-tailed porcupine

Posted April 2022

The Milwaukee County Zoo is excited to announce a prehensile-tailed porcupine was born March 27 in the Small Mammals building. The baby, whose gender is not yet known, is the second offspring of mom Quinn and dad Seamus (Shay-muss). Their first offspring, Bristle, was born at the Zoo last May, and recently moved to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa by recommendation of the Species Survival Plan (SSP®) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

After experiencing some difficulties nursing her first offspring, Quinn has taken to motherhood much more easily this time around. Since she is a more experienced mother now, Quinn has been able to care for her new baby without any help from her zookeepers. She groomed the baby as soon as it was born and began nursing it very quickly.

Prehensile-tailed porcupineThe baby is developing normally and is quickly becoming more active and adventurous. It weighed 466 grams at birth and has grown to 708 grams when last weighed at 11 days old. Zookeepers report that the baby seems curious about its surroundings and has been following Quinn around the habitat more each day. The baby is gaining coordination between its tail and feet, and while it still has improvements to make, it has gotten better every day, enough so the baby can now navigate its entire habitat and climb the branches!

Prehensile-tailed porcupine
Pre-hensile tailed porcupines are nocturnal animals and live on the “night-side” of the Small Mammals building.

Prehensile-tailed porcupines are born with quills that are covered by red fur. As the baby grows, it will gradually lose its red fur, revealing its quills. It will retain some fur on its stomach into adulthood. Prehensile-tailed porcupines are very independent animals from birth. Besides when she is nursing, Quinn doesn’t have to give much attention to the baby, instead allowing it to develop on its own.

Quinn, Seamus, and the baby also share a habitat with Mona and Mira, a pair of armadillos. All five animals are getting along well and can be viewed by the public in the Small Mammals building. (For the next few weeks, the night-side of the Small Mammals building may be closed occasionally so the new baby and parents don’t become stressed.)

Prehensile-tailed porcupines are arboreal animals, spending most of their time in trees. These porcupines are also nocturnal and are known to move to a new tree each day. They are known to live between 12-17 years in human care. The species is named after their prehensile tails, which they use for grasping and hanging in trees.