Can porcupines float on water?

Can these quill-loaded creatures really float, or is it just a well-propagated myth?

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"Mmmmmmmm! Tasty berries..."
“Mmmmmmmm! Tasty berries…”

Porcupines are buoyant, thanks in part to the hollow structure of their quills. These sharp spines are solid at the base and tip but mostly hollow in the middle, with a light spongy material (the quill medulla) sealed off inside. This helps porcupines float, but although North American, crested and brush-tailed porcupines are keen swimmers, not all porcupine species are fond of water. Porcupine quills are even sometimes used by fishermen as floats. The main function of quills, though, is for defence. North American porcupines have up to 30,000 quills each measuring around ten centimetres (four inches) long; if a predator gets too close the barbed tips snag into their skin.

Answered by Alex Cheung.

To learn more about all the incredible animals on our planet, why not visit our AnimalAnswers website – from the makers of How It Works.

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