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Behaviour of a porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) swimming across a small boreal stream

Thomas S. Jung


The swimming behaviour of North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is largely unrecorded, even though much of its habitat is bisected by innumerable rivers and streams. Moreover, the literature is inconsistent regarding how readily porcupines take to the water and how well adapted they are for swimming. I observed a porcupine swimming across a relatively placid and shallow braid in the Klondike River (Yukon, Canada), after it had aborted three apparent attempts to swim at a relatively fast-flowing, deep channel upstream. This observation provides evidence of porcupine swimming across moving water and suggests that they may be reluctant to do so and selective of where they cross rivers and streams.


Behaviour; Erethizon dorsatum; North American Porcupine; swimming

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