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THE ECONOMY, HABITS OF LIFE, INSTINCTS, AND SAGACITY,
REV. W. BINGLEY, A. M. F. L. S.
IN FOUR VOLUMES.
PRINTED FOR C. J. G. AND F. RIVINGTON; LONGMAN, REES,
OF THE PORCUPINES IN GENERAL†.
To a superficial observer, the animals belonging to this tribe would seem entitled to a place with the Hedgehogs; but they have no further similitude to these, than in the spiny covering of their bodies. None of the species are supposed to be carnivorous.
THE COMMON PORCUPINE.
The strong and sharp spines with which the upper parts of the body of the Porcupine are covered, and which measure from nine to fifteen inches in length, are
* In this order the animals are furnished with two remarkably large and long front teeth in each jaw; but have no canine teeth. Their feet have claws, and are formed both for bounding and running.
+ The Porcupines have two front teeth, cut obliquely, in each jaw; and eight grinders. They have four toes on the fore, and five on the hinder feet; and the body is covered with spines intermixed with hair.
See Plate vi. Fig. 5.
DESCRIPTION. The general length of the Porcupine is about two feet from the head to the extremity of the tail. The upper parts of the body are covered with strong spines, each of which is variegated with black and white rings. The head, belly, and legs are covered with strong dusky bristles, intermixed with softer hairs: on the top of the head, these are very long, and curved backward, somewhat like a crest.
SYNONYMS. Hystrix cristata. Linn.-Crested Porcupine. Pennant.-Porc-epic. Buffon.-Shaw's Gcn. Zool. Pl. 122.— Bew. Quad. 180.
complete quills, and want only the vane to constitute real feathers. The animal has the power of elevating or depressing them at will; and when he walks they make a rattling noise by striking against each other.
Whenever these animals are irritated or offended, they stamp forcibly on the ground with their hind feet, somewhat in the manner of rabbets. In this act they shake all their quills, but more particularly those about the tail; and at the same time they exert their voice, which is a kind of grunting noise.
It has been asserted by credulous travellers, that Porcupines, when provoked, dart their quills at the object of their rage. This opinion, however, has been fully refuted by many accurate naturalists, who have taken pains to enquire into the matter. The usual method of defence adopted by these animals, is to recline on one side; and, at the approach of their enemy, to rise up quickly and gore him with the erected prickles of the opposite side*. It is also stated, that, when the Porcupine meets with serpents, against which he carries on a perpetual war, he closes himself up like a ball, concealing his head and feet, and then rolls upon and kills them with his bristles, without running any risk of being wounded himself. M. Le Vaillant says, that, owing to some pernicious quality in the quills, one of his Hottentots, who had received a wound in the leg from a Porcupine, was ill for upwards of six months. He also informs us, that a gentleman at the Cape of Good Hope, in teasing one of these animals, received a wound in the leg, which nearly occasioned the loss of his limb; and notwithstanding every possible care, he suffered severely from it for more than four months, during one of which he was confined to his bed. When the Porcupine casts its quills, it sometimes shakes
The keeper of the animals in the Tower informed me, that whenever a Porcupine attempts to injure any person who disturbs him in his cage, he turns round and runs backward upon the intruder.