Do Porcupines Float In Water

With their razor-sharp quills, porcupines are frequently thought to climb trees and remain on land. The hollow, razor-sharp quills that decorate the body of the North American porcupines make them easy to identify. One of the largest members of the rodent family is the North American porcupine.

The porcupine family does not, however, consist entirely of land species. Some porcupine species, including crested and brush-tailed porcupines, can survive for extended periods in water.

In our guide, you can learn more about the North American porcupines and the crested and brush-tailed porcupine swimming abilities. By the end, you’ll see that not all porcupine species are great swimmers, yet they swim when they need to when searching for food. (Learn How To Protect Your Watermelon Farm)


Swimming Abilities of Brush-Tailed Porcupines

Structure of Porcupine Quills

The unique structure of their quills makes them float in water. The quill medulla, which is surrounded by a hollow structure, is made by the porcupine quills’ light, spongy composition. Porcupines can float and swim well thanks to the porcupine quills structure.

Not All Porcupine Species are Good Swimmers

Not all porcupine species of porcupine can swim well. For instance, porcupines from the Old World are not well known for their swimming prowess. On the other hand, crested porcupines and North American porcupines are proficient swimmers.

Porcupines Find Food Using Swimming

In locations where porcupines live and food is scarce, mainly, porcupines swim in search of prey. They can obtain food sources they might not have access to on land thanks to their ability to swim and float in water.

Why Can Porcupines Swim?

Due in part to the hollow structure of their quills, porcupines float. These pointed spines are generally hollow in the middle, with a sharp layer of spongy material (the quill medulla) that is shut off. They are solid at the base and tip.

Although North American, crested, and brush-tailed porcupines are skilled swimmers, not all porcupine species enjoy being in the water. This helps the porcupines float. Even occasionally, fishermen will use porcupine quills as floats. However, defense is hollow quills’ primary purpose.

Up to 30,000 quills, each reaching about four inches long can be found on North American porcupines. The sharp spines catch into their skin if a predator approaches too closely.


Are Porcupines Good Swimmers?

Because of the hollow structure of the porcupine quills, porcupines are excellent swimmers and can efficiently float in water. They are also known for having excellent swimming skills, which they employ to obtain food and avoid predators. (Read Is Cabbage Good For Chickens)

Can all porcupine species float in water?

No, not all porcupine species can float. While North American and crested porcupines are proficient swimmers, Old World porcupines are not well known for their aquatic prowess.

Why do porcupines float?

Because of the hollow structure of their quills, crested and Brush Tailed porcupines can float on water. The quills light, spongy material, and hollow construction, which helps porcupines float and become keen swimmers. Porcupines float because of the hollow nature of their quills and sharp spines.

These pointed spines are mostly hollow in the middle, with a sharp layer of spongy material (the quill medulla) that is shut off and helps porcupines float. They are solid at the tip and base.

Do porcupines swim in search of food?

Yes, especially in places lacking food, North American porcupines, as keen swimmers have swum in quest of something to eat.

Can Porcupines Dive, or do porcupines float?

For a short length of time, porcupines can dive themselves in water. But it is rare to witness a porcupine dive because they often have little reason to do so. Porcupines are most at ease in the water when they can swim above the surface and float along the surface thanks to their quills, which aid in their water floating.

In addition, it is hard for crested and Brush-tailed porcupines to dive as the hollow structure of the light, spongy material and structure of their quills and sharp spines helps porcupines float and become keen swimmers rather than diving under the surface.

How the structure of their quills helps porcupines float?

A typical porcupine’s back, legs, and tail have covered in around 30,000 quills. These quills are actually hollow on the inside and are pretty light. The air inside the hollow space makes it possible for the quills to float.

The structure of their quills act like tiny life jackets and keep the porcupine afloat since so many are connected to its body.  The fact that their small, rounded bodies would naturally lend themselves to buoyancy surely doesn’t hurt either! The porcupine can paddle in the water using its paws like a dog once it is floating.

He advances and gains control over the direction he wants to go, thanks to this.

Do Porcupines Bathe in Water?

Crested and Brush-tailed Porcupines do not take baths in bodies of water. While searching for food, they may end up cleaner after swimming, but it is not what they intend when they swim. Porcupines can create a fragrance to aid in self-defense and identify their territory. Some people say it smells musty or sweaty. Others claim it has a cheese-like odor.

Porcupines are not affected by this odor, and unlike raccoons, they are not known for cleaning their food. Therefore, porcupines do not require a bath.

Why Do Porcupines Swim?

Most porcupines reside in trees. They are protected from many predators, and they can eat trees. This makes the question of why a porcupine would choose to swim instead of simply moving from tree to tree.

Porcupines swim to:

  • Eat water-grown foods
  • Drink water
  • Avoid predators
  • Cool in warm weather
  • Visit a new location

How Can Porcupines float?

Thousands of quills cover the entire body of every porcupine. The air is hollow and inside those quills. As hundreds of small life jackets, the quills help porcupines float and stop them from sinking.

The structure of the porcupine quills can be compared to pool noodles. You could float pretty effortlessly if you had 10,000 pool noodles linked to your back. All you would have to do to move is paddle. You wouldn’t have to worry about using energy to kick to stay buoyancy.

where do they swim

Where Do They Swim?

You probably won’t see a porcupine swimming in an ocean or even one of the Great Lakes because the waves would be too strong for them. These creatures would choose quiet bodies of water, like a pond, a softly moving stream, or a creek.

Porcupines tend to stick near the beach or only swim when it’s light out because they typically sleep during the day and move around at night. (Read Can Bearded Dragons Eat Ants)

They will stay away from crowded locations since they have poor vision. Because the porcupine has a ready-made location to hide, you are more likely to find one in an area with high grass or cattails.


The sharp quills and climbing prowess of porcupines are well known, but they also have a surprising affinity for water.

You can easily find a porcupine floating in the water and are proficient swimmers because of the design of their quills, which are made of a light, spongy material encircled by a hollow structure.

Although not all porcupines can swim, brush-tailed, North American, and crested porcupines are renowned for their prowess in the water.

Porcupines have various adaptations and abilities for locating food or avoiding predators.

So, when in the great outdoors, it can be a common sight to see a floating porcupine.

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