The North American Porcupine

Front Cover
Cornell University Press, 2009 - Nature - 282 pages
1 Review

Praise for the first edition:

"Rarely does one encounter scientific writing that is at the same time authoritative, full of well-documented data, and yet as readable as this book. It is good literature as well as good science. Readers almost feel as though they are looking over the shoulder of the observer, feeling his discomfort at the cold and rain, his excitement when something new and unexpected happens, and sharing in the sadness over the demise or misfortune of an animal that had long ago become a friend."—Quarterly Review of Biology

"The variety, power, and pleasure of modern natural history shines brightly in this book. Long and sympathetic watching, radio tracking, chemical analysis . . . are all part of this naturalist's ingenious and peaceable arsenal of inquiry into the lives of porcupines."—Scientific American

The North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is universally recognizable, yet has a complex biology that continues to fascinate. This large-bodied, slow-moving herbivore is found in coniferous and mixed forested areas through much of the northern and western United States and in Canada. The porcupine would be ill equipped to avoid any sort of predator were it not for its most distinguishing feature—a unique natural defensive system of thousands of sharp, barbed, multipurpose quills, which are marvels of evolutionary adaptation.

Intrigued by the porcupines after he discovered them gnawing at the plywood of his Catskills cabin, the biologist Uldis Roze has spent twenty-five years tracking and studying this solitary animal. His firsthand observations are a revelation; throughout the second edition of his classic work on the subject, he shows how much can be learned by "following a porcupine in the woods." Quill design, defensive reactions, foraging, reproduction, and life cycle are among the topics illuminated by Roze in this fine example of forest ecology.

Roze's comprehensive knowledge of this important mammal will interest wildlife managers in addition to a wide audience of natural history readers. The penultimate chapter, in which the author rehabilitates an orphaned porcupine he names Musa, teaching her to climb trees and forage, show the scientific insights that come from such pursuits—such as the discovery of clay-eating in the porcupine diet—but also the pure joy and excitement of gaining a window into the world of the porcupine. Roze's writing beautifully unites scientific research with a naturalist's fascination with the outdoor world and the lives of his subjects: Each animal he encounters is "a teacher, a storyteller of the woods, a complexifier and adorner of the world."

  

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Review: The North American Porcupine

User Review  - Melody - Goodreads

Very well written and readable, cover to cover. Not a dry portrait of porcupines but an interesting and engaging book. This would be painful for most people, but if you're interested in wildlife you'd probably enjoy it. Read full review

Review: The North American Porcupine

User Review  - T. Carter Ross - Goodreads

The first edition of The North American Porcupine was a naturalist writing at his best -- ranging from habitat to biology to folklore and more -- all in a style that makes for great reading. I expect Roze to meet the same standards for this second edition of the book. Read full review

Contents

Porcupines and People
1
The Defense Reaction
15
Anatomy
40
Spring Foraging
53
Salt Drive
65
Summer and Fall Foraging
83
The Winter Den
100
Winter Foraging
119
Social Structure
157
Parasites
177
Porcupines of the World
194
Travels with Musa
212
The Oldest Porcupine
238
References
261
Index
275
Copyright

Reproduction and Maternal Care
135

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information