I live on the back side of Temple Mountain. The terrain is heavily wooded and my land, almost 7 acres, stretches back to the foot of the ledges that form the base of the Wapack Trail. In my years here I have been visited – that I am aware – by an old, grumpy, lame Black Bear; a huge bull Moose, numerous deer and coyotes and way too many porcupines.
Last spring a momma porcupine decided the rock crevices outside my back deck were a lovely place to give birth and raise her brood. I first became aware of this fact when Alice, my little red Shar Pei came bounding into the house with a snout full of quills. Shar Pei’s have very thick skin and the only place the needles can penetrate is between their toes, the end of their noses and their lips where the skin is softer.
I apologize for the poor quality of the photo. Not only was I laughing so hard my hands shook but the lighting in the kitchen was awful.
I sat down on the kitchen floor, pliers in hand, and slowly started to pull the quills. They were very soft and pliable with almost no barbs. As soon as I got them all out, Alice was at the back door barking and insisting on going out. Like a fool, I acquiesced and sure enough, she came back with more. At this point I went to investigate for myself. A very pissed off 30 pound momma porcupine was shuffling around in the leaves of the rock pile. Several tiny heads with black beady eyes stared out at me. Yup, every time Alice stuck her nose in the den, the babies’ soft quills ended up in her nose.
Alice and I agreed to leave them alone until the babies were old enough to move. I went back to my life. One night as I was pulling clean clothes from the washer to transfer to the dryer, something sharp stuck my finger. I searched but found nothing.
Later that week I had a business trip to New York City. I was staying in a boutique hotel on Central Park. As I dressed that morning for a day of meetings I was shocked to pull on my panties only to be stuck with something sharp. Taking a closer look I found 4 perfect baby quills embedded in the silk. I picked them carefully out of the fabric and placed them on a sheet of note paper on the bedside table.
“Caution! Porcupine Quills” was the note I left for the maid. It would have been fun to see her reaction upon finding my “tip”.