A prickly little rodent’s rehabilitation at the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre near Truro is gaining traction on YouTube.
The centre has posted a video of a hungry baby porcupine called “Porc,” that has more than 40,000 views.
Helene Van Doninck, a wildlife veterinarian who runs the centre, says Porc was newborn when he was discovered. He still had a wet umbilical cord and was about the size of a two to three week old kitten, fitting in the palm of her hand.
Initially, the centre told the people who found it to wait and see if the mother came back, but she didn't. Doninck said the baby looked like it needed care so they took it in.
Porc is now four to five weeks old. Doninck says he’s doing really well and is starting to eat regular porcupine food, like shrubs and other plants.
He's in an enclosure where he can climb trees and be a regular porcupine.
The concoction Porc blissfully guzzles in the video is a combination of dog milk replacer and Activia strawberry yogurt. Doninck says she’s not sure why Activia is the yogurt of choice but it seems to be the one the porcupines like.
The centre hopes to release Porc back into the wild in another month or so — once he's fully weaned and has a healthy fear of humans.
A porcupine's normal response to fear is to run away, climb a tree or curl up in a ball to puff out their quills — and Porc displays all of these behaviours.
Doninck advises people who see a baby porcupine in the wild, leave it and watch for the mother to come back because mothers often hide their young while they search for food.
Baby porcupines are born with quills but the barbs, which are made of keratin — the same thing human fingernails are composed of — harden after the critters are a few days old.
There’s a common misconception that porcupines can throw their quills. However, the quills only stick if something actually touches the animal.