Burdock, the young porcupine, was not in his den this morning when I went to bring him a snack and check on him. This is the first time in a week he was not home. I went to look for him at dusk. I headed to the cherry tree where I found him last week. The tree is on a wooded hill about a quarter mile away, a pretty good hike for such a short-legged critter. Sure enough, there he was, a porcupine ball out on a branch near the top.
While waiting for him to come down, I noticed some large porcupine droppings mixed with the small ones beneath the tree. This supports my theory that young porcupines seek out other porcupines when they disperse. Though they are unlikely to socialize, they depend on older porcupines to lead them to the good feeding trees, den sites, and other porcupine resources.
Little Burd followed me eagerly back to his den, his feet thumping noisily along on the shallow, frozen snow.
Once at his den, he wanted to keep following me up to the house. As usual, when he reached the places where the adult male porcupine, Big East, had scent-marked, Burdock puffed up his quills, spun in circles, and galloped back toward his den—a porcupine invisible fence.