With an appearance that could be mistaken for a bird’s nest by a careless observer, the porcupine is one of the boreal forest’s most well protected denizens. This rodent is covered all along its back with 30,000 or so quills, which are specialized, loosely rooted hairs that are barbed at the ends. An attacker is wise to steer clear of these quills, as serious injuries can result from being punctured by them.
For all of its fearsome defences, the porcupine is a quiet, nocturnal sort, spending most of its time in trees where it feeds on leaves, twigs, and fresh bark. Porcupines are common, and found throughout the northwest boreal forest, especially in mixed forests.
Porcupines were a source of white meat to northwest Aboriginal Peoples, an alternative to the red meat of larger game animals. Porcupine quills could be removed and used in Aboriginal artwork. The quills were dyed into various colours with berry juices, and then sewn or braided to decorate clothing or art pieces.