SCHERTZ, Texas – A Schertz family got a particularly prickly surprise visitor Tuesday morning — a porcupine.
Dania Wilkerson told KSAT that her husband Wesley went to go check on the family’s two miniature schnauzers who were barking outside when he spotted the animal.
“At first we had no idea what it was. So armed with a leaf blower he went out to take a closer look,” she said. “As he got closer, the porcupine would slowly turn towards him so we couldn’t see his face. Finally, he realized it was a porcupine and we brought our dogs inside.”
Wilkerson said once she realized it was a porcupine she ran inside to get a better camera and alert her 16-year-old who is a “huge animal lover.”
“We thought it was a raccoon at first. Just took us a minute to figure it out,” said Wilkerson. “My 10-year-old was amazed by it.”
Porcupines are already established in Central Texas but they’re expanding south and have previously been seen around San Antonio.
They are native to Texas and are the second-largest species of rodent in North America behind the beaver, TWPD urban biologist Jessica Alderson previously told KSAT.
Breeding season typically occurs in late summer and early fall with baby porcupines coming about 7 months later in April and May.
“Porcupines are really interesting creatures. If you happen to encounter one, simply observe from a distance,” said Alderson.
Porcupines are typically nocturnal and live in a variety of habitats but prefer forested or rocky areas, with ridges and slopes.
“In recent years, they have expanded their range into southern Texas,” Alderson said.
Contrary to popular belief — porcupines don’t shoot their quills. Instead, porcupines lift their quills and swish their tail from side to side when they feel threatened.
Quills are hardened hollow hairs with barbed tips made of keratin which serve as protective body armor. These quills are shed and replaced similar to how humans shed and replace their hair.
If you happen to spot a porcupine, simply back away slowly to give the animal an opportunity to leave. When porcupines are relaxed and unafraid, the quills lie flat, hidden under a layer of long guard hairs. When they feel disturbed or threatened, the quills stand erect and the porcupine is ready to defend itself.
Wilkerson said her family tried calling animal control but they were closed.
“Needless to say it was an exciting morning,” she said.