Can You Own A Pet Porcupine?

Can you own a pet porcupine? It depends on your location. Some people might find the prickly rodent to be the perfect companion, but it takes a special person to love and care for these critters. What does it take to keep a porcupine as a pet? Read on to find out everything you need to know.

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Pet porcupine

Is It Legal to Own a Pet Porcupine?

Surprisingly, some states allow residents to keep pet porcupines. However, they typically fall under the exotic or wild animals statutes, meaning you might need a special license to get one. Even if you obtain a permit, you still have to abide by the strict rules for having an exotic pet.

Why Porcupines Aren’t Good Pets

Pet porcupines aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. While it might seem like fun to have one of these cute quilled rodents as a sidekick, there are several reasons to let them run wild.  

#1 Porcupines Aren’t Domesticated

Wild porcupine on a tree

Porcupines aren’t domestic animals, and you can’t keep them in your home for a few key reasons. They are strictly outside animals because they need to burrow into the ground and have space to move around. 

You won’t be able to house train them or provide the proper stimulation inside. It’s not like you can get them a companion to keep them company because they don’t like other pets, especially cats. If you already have pets at home, a porcupine is probably not a good idea.

#2 You Need a Proper Habitat

Imagine the damage a porcupine could do to your home if you let them run free and burrow anywhere they want? An indoor cage isn’t an option because it doesn’t provide enough space. If you want a prickly indoor pet that won’t destroy your home, then you might want to consider a hedgehog instead.  

To support a pet porcupine, you would need to create an outdoor habitat that suits their needs. That entails providing ways to scavenge for food, like growing plants underground. Keep in mind that they are excellent climbers and often scale trees to find preferred food sources. 

Porcupines also need plenty of tree bark and twigs to gnaw with their ever-growing teeth. Plus, porcupines require fresh water in a metal bowl they can’t chew through. 

#3 Porcupines Can Be Hard to Handle

Porcupines can weigh up to 15 pounds and measure up to 31 inches long, not including their tail. That means you’re dealing with the equivalent of a small dog if the pup had quills instead of fur. 

Quills are spikes or spines mixed in with the hair on their bodies. It’s a form of protection that stays flat when they are calm. If someone or something crosses its path, their quills rise to warn the on-comer. 

Unlike the cartoon variations, porcupines can’t spray their quills on command, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get pricked if you get too close. Getting quilled is not only painful, but it also requires medical attention. While the quills aren’t poisonous, a doctor needs to remove them to reduce the risk of infection.

If you did keep a pet porcupine, you would have to learn how to handle it properly. Your best bet is picking them up by their quill-free bellies.

#4 Porcupines Are Picky Eaters 

Two porcupines eating herbs

Porcupines are herbivores, making dinner time seem easy, much simpler than if you had a pet mink. In the wild, they eat whatever they can scavenge, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t particular. These prickly pets are notoriously picky eaters. 

You can’t just drop a hefty plate of fruit and vegetables in your backyard and expect them to be grateful. It takes some experimentation to find what works, and each porcupine has unique tastes. 

  • Leafy greens
  • Veggies, especially corn on the cob
  • Seeds
  • Grasses and hays
  • Leaves
  • Roots
  • Tree bark
  • Pine needles
  • Herbivore pellets

Porcupines typically love to eat berries and other fruits, but it’s a good idea to limit them to occasional snacks. Too much fruit can cause health issues, especially for younger ones.

#5 They Are Skittish and Sometimes Hypersensitive

Even though porcupines seem like chill animals, you can forget about snuggling up to watch a movie with your prickly companion. It takes a long time to build a level of trust with these creatures, and even then, you can still startle them. 

Porcupines are notoriously skittish, and they have more than quills for protection. You know there’s trouble if their teeth start chattering. If the critter gets angry enough, its whole body will shake and make those quills look even more menacing. 

Push a porcupine’s patience even more to trigger another line of defense, the spray. Porcupines can let out a foul odor, kind of like a skunk or anteater, to repel unwanted visitors. If all else fails, the porcupine will have no choice but to attack. You could get a head-on attack or face the wrath of a porcupine’s tail. 

#6 They Like the Nightlife

If you were hoping to spend time with your prickly pet, plan on staying up late. These quilled rodents are also nocturnal, so they sleep in burrows during the day. 

Keep in mind that they can’t see you at night, but they can smell you if you get close enough to them. It can be a challenge to get near them in the dark unless the porcupine completely trusts you.

Where To Buy a Porcupine?

Porcupine in an enclosure at a zoo

Do you still think a porcupine is the perfect pet for you? If the above reasons don’t give you pause, you might want to know where to buy a pet porcupine and how much it would cost. It’s not like you can walk into your local pet store to find one for sale. 

First, make sure it’s legal to own a porcupine in your state and familiarize yourself with the associated regulations. To buy a pet porcupine, you have to contact an exotic pet dealer or breeder. Prepare to pay a hefty price, and don’t forget the added cost of the licensing to own one.