The cost of a prickly diet: incidents of porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) quills embedded in Wolverine (Gulo gulo)

Piia M. Kukka, Thomas S. Jung


The occurrence of North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) quills embedded in wild carnivores and domestic dogs is not rare; however, the prevalence of this occurrence and its consequences in wildlife are largely unknown. We examined 569 trapper-submitted Wolverine (Gulo gulo) carcasses for embedded porcupine quills. We observed quills in 4.6% of the wolverines, including all sex and age classes. We found quills throughout the body, and, in most cases, injury was not apparent. Observed complications, however, included bone proliferation and tissue damage to internal organs. Our data show that the occurrence of porcupine quills in Wolverine is not rare and demonstrate that, in a few cases, serious injuries may result from migrating quills.


North American Porcupine; Erethizon dorsatum; Wolverine; Gulo gulo; quills

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