Porcupine - from Shutterstock Porcupine Squeals. 10pm, 26 August 1988, Stillwater Reservoir, Adirondack Mountains, upstate New York. © Lang Elliott.

Having just posted recordings of the groundhog and raccoon, several of my readers inquired about the porcupine. So here’s a recording of a squealing porcupine that I made in the Adirondack Mountains way back in 1988, at the very beginning of my nature recording career.

It was the 26th of August and I was preparing to canoe out into a large lake (Stillwater Reservoir) to record the sounds of loons. Just before shoving off, I heard an animal squealing in the forest, quite a distance away. I grabbed my parabola and sprinted down the road in order to get closer. Luckily, I managed to capture a pretty good sequence of squeals before the animal fell silent. I was quite impressed by the sounds, so expressive and animated, yet I had no idea what I was recording. My first thought was some kind owl, maybe a long-eared owl. I was really baffled, although it did occur to me that maybe, just maybe, it was a porcupine.

The mystery was solved about a year later when I played my recording to a porcupine expert, Uldis Roze, who verified that it was indeed a squealing porky (Uldis did research on porcupines in the Catskill Mountains). He said it was probably a female rebuffing the advances of a male. But how can that be? It was August and you’d think a mammal the size of a porcupine would breed in winter or spring. Well, it turns out that porcupines breed from late summer into autumn and have an extended pregnancy (gestation) that lasts a whopping seven months or so, at which time a single youngster (porcupette) will be born.

Below is an additional recording provided to me by Kim Dement, who lives in Grayling, Michigan (she made it using her iPad). Kim tells me that porkys are quite common in her area and actually keep her awake with their incessant screaming during that time of year. As you will hear, this is the same type of sound (animated squeals) that I recorded in the Adirondacks. It’s great to have an example from a different location, supporting the notion that porkys squeal like this over most of their range.

Porcupine squeals. Early am, 1 August 2014, along Ausable River near Grayling, Michigan. © Kim Dement.

Would you ever imagine that a porcupine sounds like this? I find their squeals simply adorable … every time I play these recordings, they bring a smile to my face.

p.s. On the advice of one of my readers, I checked out Teddy the Porcupine on Youtube. He sure rounds out the vocabulary of squeals and mews … happy sounds in this case, and truly amazing!

Photo Credit: porcupine image featured at top of page from Shutterstock

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