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Stone Zoo welcomes prehensile-tailed porcupette

Visitors to Stone Zoo will notice a fuzzy new face in the prehensile-tailed porcupine habitat.

On February 22, Prickles, a prehensile-tailed porcupine, gave birth to a porcupette. The baby is the fourth offspring for Prickles, age 10, and dad, Shadow, age 11.

The latest prickly addition, who weighed just under 1 pound at birth, is settling in well in the Windows to the Wild space.

The baby received its first medical exam on February 23 and appeared bright, healthy and alert. As with any new birth, the veterinary and animal care teams are closely monitoring the mother and baby. The porcupette has been gaining weight, and will continue to be weighed every day during the first month to make sure there is continued healthy weight gain.

“We’re excited to welcome another porcupine to the zoo family, and to report that they are all doing great. We’ve observed the porcupette grip branches with its prehensile tail, which is an excellent sign of a strong, healthy baby,” says Pete Costello, the Assistant Curator at Stone Zoo. “Prickles is an experienced mother, and we are pleased with the baby’s progress so far.”

Zoo New England participates in the Prehensile-tailed Porcupine Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs help to ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered, and enhance conservation of these species in the wild. This birth is the result of a recommended breeding between Prickles and Shadow.

Shadow, who was born at the Zoo in 2013, is one of Stone Zoo’s ambassador animals. Ambassador animals play a key role in connecting people with nature and the issues affecting the species or its native habitat. Zoo New England is committed to inspiring people to protect the natural world by creating engaging experiences integrating wildlife and education, making ambassador animals like Shadow an important part of the Zoo New England family.

Prehensile-tailed porcupines are born with soft quills that will harden over time. They are fairly independent after birth and don’t nurse often, so guests may see the baby on a branch by itself. These animals are nocturnal and spend much time resting during the day. Prehensile-tailed porcupines are found in the forests of South America; their tails act like a fifth limb, helping them grasp branches as they move through trees.