Ham Lake Porcupine

Posted: 2011-02-12

Finally the temperature went above freezing for the first time in weeks. The sun even came out this afternoon and a little bit of the blacktop showing through the snow on the road actually had a spots of liquid water on it. It was so nice that I took a walk down the road just to get out of the house for a while.

This time of year there are a lot of tracks in the snow from a variety of animals. Normally we expect to see a lot of squirrel tracks, a few rabbit tracks, some deer tracks, and of course some dog and cat tracks from the pets in the neighborhood. Today I saw some tracks in the snow that were totally unfamiliar to me. I first saw them on the road and then followed them into a neighbors driveway where the critter that created them must have been heading for the swamp behind the neighbors house. I decided to backtrack to see where the critter had come from, and it appeared that he had come up another neighbor's driveway from the woods. It looked like the critter must have had very short legs because there were marks in the snow connecting the footprints as it wandered down the edge of the road in the half inch of undisturbed snow.

Since I had no way to figure out what the critter was, based on my own knowledge and experience, I looked it up on my computer and in just a few minutes discovered that it was a porcupine that had left the strange tracks in the road. I thought it looked like a pretty small animal made the tracks so I wondered if there would be young porcupines this time of the year. It turns out that the young are born in early winter so it is entirely possible that the tracks were made by a 3 or 4 month old porcupine. I have seen porcupines in the wild occasionally, but never in our neighborhood. So I learned something new today.