Tuesday, January 15, 2013
ABC Wednesday: A is for acanthous
Acanthous means spinous, having spines or spikes. And it's hard to have more of them than the Crested Pocupine (Hystrix cristata), an animal native to Italy and Northern Africa. It's a myth that they can shoot their spines, though. The spines are hollow and will break off easily in an attacker's flesh and they will cause wounds that become infected just as easily.
They are rodents and quite big animals, not all that smaller than the biggest rodent, the capybara. Only very few predators will risk an attack on a porcupine.
This is a Common or North American Pocupine (Erethizon dorsatum), with the exception of the beaver the biggest rodent in North America. Unlike the crested pocupine, they are fairly good climbers and spend much of their time in trees.
Porcupine come from the old French word porcespin, spiny pig. When they are born, all porcupines habe soft spines that will harden in the first few days after birth, just like those of hedgehogs. If a porcupine hurts itself with its spines, for example by falling out of a tree, the quills are covered with a substance that has antibiotic qualities to prevent infections.
See what else A stands for with ABC Wednesday
Wikipedia North American Porcupine