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Meet ZooMontana's porcupine (VIDEO)

Posted at 6:05 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-06 13:51:09-04

MISSOULA — We talked with Jeff Ewelt, director of ZooMontana, to learn about Lander, the zoo's resident porcupine. Watch the video above to learn more.

Lander came to ZooMontana in 2019 after she was found next to her mother, who had been shot. She was raised at the Zoo and has become a guest favorite. Lander is in training to be an ambassador animal.

She is currently on exhibit indoors with the Screech Owl, but will be moved outdoors with the Great Horned Owl once she is big enough.

Despite spending most of their time on the ground, North American Porcupines are excellent climbers and surprisingly good swimmers.

From the Montana Field Guide:

North American Porcupine adults in the Northwest average 30 inches long and 20 pounds in weight. Round, short-legged, and slow in movement, they are protected by a coat of quills that covers all but their underside and the insides of their legs. Up to 30,000 of these modified hairs, yellowish white and black- or brown-tipped, mix with coarse guard hairs, and lay over thick, brownish underfur. The hollow quill shafts may be up to 5 inches in length and the guard hairs twice as long. They concentrate on the rump and short tail. The Porcupine sheds this coat yearly. Long, heavy claws enable the Porcupine to climb and curl up in trees. Its excellent hearing and sense of smell make up for poor vision (Foresman 2012). At night the Porcupine's bright eyes appear red. Its grunts and high-pitched cries can be heard from a distance. Newborns are born with teeth, eyes open, and soft quills that harden within an hour. They can climb the same day.

Click here to learn more about ZooMontana, which is located off the I-90 Zoo Drive exit in Billings.