September 9th, 2011

Dr. Dog DMV

Official diagnosis: CUTE

Photos by Becky Ehrlich

Prehensile-tailed porcupine born at Stone Zoo
Baby’s arrival marks the first birth of this species at the zoo

Stoneham; Sept. 8, 2011 – The staff at Stone Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a prehensile-tailed porcupine, which marks the first birth of this species at the zoo.

The baby, born on September 6, to Elvis, age 4, and Comica, age 10, can be seen on exhibit with its mother in the Windows to the Wild exhibit space.

The baby, which weighs 475 grams, received its first well-baby examination on Wednesday and appeared healthy, bright and alert. As with any new birth, the veterinary and animal management staffs are closely monitoring the mother and baby.

“We are thrilled to share the news of this birth at Stone Zoo,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “You can’t help but be drawn to this little creature and people will be amazed to see the differences between the baby and adult. It’s another exciting birth in a season that has been filled with births and hatchings at both zoos. Each new addition provides a wonderful opportunity to educate and connect people to all of these incredible animals.”

Zoo New England participates in the Prehensile-tailed Porcupine Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. This birth is the result of a recommended breeding between Comica and Elvis, who is very genetically valuable within the North American captive population.

Prehensile-tailed porcupines are born with their eyes open and a functional, prehensile tail. Infants have a dense coat of reddish hair and sharp natal quills about 15 millimeters long. There is very little direct contact between mom and offspring except for short periods when the baby nurses. The typical gestation period is 195-210 days and females typically give birth to one offspring.

Prehensile-tailed porcupines are primarily arboreal, nocturnal animals native to South America with an excellent sense of smell and hearing. They have yellowish to brown bodies with short black and white spines and a large furless nose. Their long prehensile tails are mostly without spines and have a callous pad on the upper side near the end. These animals use this long tail for grasping and hanging, and their clawed feet help them grip and climb. When threatened, prehensile-tailed porcupines may stand and stamp their hind legs, raise and shake their quills, and emit deep growls or high-pitched whines.

Prehensile-tailed porcupines differ from North American porcupines as they are smaller, more arboreal and have a long prehensile tail.


Zoo New England manages Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham. Both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Zoo New England's mission is to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research, and education.