Monday, March 27, 2006

Porcupine 101

Yesterday was a rather eventful day in our household. First of all, it was our oldest son's 15th birthday. It was a bit tough to muster up a lot of festive feelings, as most of our family is still down with flu symptoms. Thankfully Jonathan has escaped, and we are asking the Lord to continue to keep him healthy.

During Jonathan's call from Grandpa and Grammy Bartlett we discovered our 8 month old German Shepherd had come running to the house with his mouth area covered with porcupine quills! Amazing, our other dog (hyper Selah) didn't have a single quill on her -- she tends to be the one who gets Samson all excited and he does the deeds. Samson must have tried to grab the thing, as the quills were on his lips and just inside the roof of the mouth, with only one on his tongue and nose. Poor thing! I had thought of taking a photo for posterity's sake, but decided he was in too much pain to even consider such a thing. Jim, Jonathan and Peter got busy right away and started the pulling process, cutting the top of the quill first, then pulling them out. (We had heard that was the way to do it, but while this was going on I checked a veterinarian website and they didn't mention doing it that way.)

Poor Samson; we knew it hurt terribly, but never once did he growl or try to bite anyone, although it took quite a bit to wrestle him down and get him to hold still. He sure was glad to be free of the quills, and very thankful for lots of cool water to drink. He certainly was back to his normal self last night, as he kept many of us up with barking and howling at the coyotes. They were very close last night.

The Turtle Mountains have lots of wildlife, and that means lots of porcupines and skunks. (I am NOT excited at Samson's first encounter with a skunk. Selah found one last fall that must have been near the house; when it sprayed I could almost taste it in the house!) A little over a year ago the boys encountered a porcupine while exploring the territory, and came running back with Selah on a rope to tie her up and keep her from getting quilled. They went back to shoot and bury the thing, taking a handful of quills as booty (farmers around here want you to kill porcupines, as they cause problems with their animals). I reminded the boys that my niece Sarah was into quilling, and she would probably appreciate the quills from them as a wedding present. They decided not to dig up the now deceased one but look for another. So, the hunt was on.

The next porcupine they found was up in an aspen tree. I think Peter shot that one, but the carcass fell into the fork of the tree and wouldn't come down! They tried all kinds of things to get it down, but no success. We even checked after a major windstorm -- it still didn't come down! Needless to say, what is left of the porcupine after a year is still in the tree, and not even the turkey buzzards are interested in it! We have yet to find some nice quills for Sarah.


Anonymous said...

Good story Lynn.

Wonder what that tree with the porcupine will smell like this summer.

Sounds like the flu is passing based on peters blog.

Have a good Tues.

Gp B

Emily said...

Hi you have fisher cats in ND? They are plentiful in NH and I've heard they are one of the few predators that successfully hunt and eat porcupines. That was a fascinating story. Poor doggie though. It reminded me of the old Disney movie The Incredible Journey.

Lynn said...

Hi Emily,
I've never heard of a fisher cat, so my guess is there are none out here. Must not be anything like a Maine coon cat??!!

Emily said...

A fisher cat actually bears no relation or resemblance to a cat. The true name is simply fisher and they are a member of the same family that includes wolverines, weasels, minks, otters, and ferrets. Some say skunks are part of that family but there is a bit of disagreement on that. Anyway they are very interesting critters and their scream can make the hair stand up on the back of your neck! They like to climb up and sit high in trees and have even been viewed in backyards around here.

Lynn said...

Emily, I'm sorry, I was trying to be funny! After you commented I looked up what a fisher actually is. I really haven't heard of them out here. The encyclopedia said they live mainly in pine/spruce forests, and we don't have many of those up here. We do have cougars, and I have heard that their cry (either like a woman screaming or a baby crying) is unnerving as well. In the winter of 2004/05 we found cougar tracks on the trail we usually take between our house and the mailbox, so they have been in our area. Thanks for the information!