I found the remains a of a porcupine in the woods, with nothing left but quills and hair.

Porcupine quills and hair

As porcupines are pretty well protected by their quills, what types of animals would be capable of killing them?

  • 1
    They're also very slow and clumsy, they spend a lot of time up in trees to avoid predators.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 22:23
  • A statist of course. Or a leopard.
    – Chloe
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 17:37

3 Answers 3


What animals can kill a porcupine?

Porcupines are covered with quills that painfully stick into almost any predator that tries to attack them. For this reason, porcupines do not have to fear being eaten by very many animals.

Three animals, however, has figured out how to eat porcupines. Bobcats, cougars and fishers have learned that a porcupine has no quills on its stomach. So one of these predators will sometimes kill and eat a porcupine by flipping it onto its back and biting into its vulnerable belly.

Source: What eats a porcupine?

Wolves in a pack can do this to porcupines. Once it has been turned over, the game is up.

Source: What animals can kill porcupines and how do they do it? How can they get past the quills?

Some mountain lions, in fact, seem to be especially fond of porcupines—perhaps they like the taste, perhaps porcupines are just easy prey, but whatever the reason, some cougars clearly seek them out. In fact, mountain lion predation of porcupines can be so intense, that its been speculated that they’ve wiped out local porcupine populations throughout the west. For example, Sweitzer et al. (1997) reported that a small population of 80 porcupines in Nevada was reduced to less than 5 animals in just three years—and that the primary reason was predation by mountain lions.

Source: Mountain Lions Versus Porcupines



The answer to the question of what kills porcupines can be highly dependent on location.

Here in southeast Alaska porcupines regularly make their way into or near towns, villages, residential areas, recreational areas, and trails, so interactions with dogs can be common in areas where people frequent. Sometimes the porcupine is killed (I know one dog that has killed porcupines multiple times), but most encounters I've heard of end with the porcupine uninjured and the dog owner with a $400 vet bill if the dog has to be sedated to remove quills.

Source: The dozens of dogs and dog owners I know (including myself).

  • My dog got porc'd this winter. He only had a couple quills in his nose though and I was able to just pluck them out without any trouble.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 22:25
  • 1
    A $400 vet bill to remove quills? That seems excessive: my dog got one last fall, with a number of quills inside his mouth so he had to be sedated, and the bill was only about $100. Is Alaska just more expensive?
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 3:40
  • @jamesqf Yes, but I guess it depends on the number of quills. There are only two vets here in this town that can do it, so not much competition and lots of dogs with quills.
    – llogan
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 19:22
  • 2
    @LordNeckbeard: Perhaps the "lots of dogs with quills" has something to do with it. I've lived here for upwards of 30 years, and until this dog found one, I didn't even know that porcupines lived around here. Vet said it was the first she'd ever seen, too, so maybe I got a discount for novelty :-)
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 4:39


The most likely case is that the porcupine was first hit by a car or shot by a hunter and was then scavenged by a coyote. The coyote would drag it away from the initial killing to a more secluded spot. I live in a remote area and have witnessed a variety of roadside or trailside carrion including porcupines disappear over night without a trace, and a handful of times I have spotted bits of the remaining fur, fluff, or needles in the nearby woods.

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