January 26, 2022
During a winter snowstorm, the quill-covered rodent arrived overnight between January 3 and January 4; and keepers discovered the newborn the next morning, People magazine reports.
The unnamed animal is the second offspring of porcupine parents Quillbur and Beatrix. The porcupine joins big brother Quilliam, who was born in 2019.
In a Facebook post on January 19, the Washington D.C. zoo said, “Lookin’ sharp, kid! Prehensile-tailed porcupines Beatrix and Quillbur recently welcomed their second offspring. Small Mammal House keepers reported for duty Januuary 4 and discovered Beatrix had given birth overnight.”
The zoo also revealed that the now two-week-old porcupine is “bonded with mom and is nursing well and gaining weight.”
The sex of the porcupette—a term for a baby porcupine—has yet to be determined. According to the zoo’s post, all baby porcupines are anatomically similar until they reach six months, so the zoo is using DNA testing to discover the young animal’s sex.
“Keepers sent quill samples to scientists at the Zoo’s Center for Conservation Genomics for DNA analysis,” the zoo shared in its social media post. “In a few weeks, we’ll know our porcupette’s sex!”
Zookeepers also are waiting to learn more about the new porcupine’s personality.
“Our team is looking forward to learning if the newborn will take after Beatrix, who is relaxed and easy-going, or be more active and curious like Quillbur!” the zoo added on Facebook.
Prehensile-tailed porcupines—one of 18 species of New World porcupines —are born with soft quills that harden minutes after birth. They can climb trees and are herbivores, according to the zoo.
Research contact: @people