African porcupines are large rodents, weighing about forty pounds, and predators (including humans) seek them out for their tasty meat. Sometime during the struggle or perhaps while trying to consume the porcupine, a number of sharp quills became embedded in the cat’s chest. Mountain lions are carnivores (meat eaters) and prey mostly on deer. “We know from forty-plus years of continuous behavioral research on lions since the 1960s that lions prefer large hooved animals as prey, including antelope, zebra, and buffalo,” says Gnoske. One had been stuck through the nose with a nine-inch quill, and the other had an inch-long segment of a quill embedded in the nerve pulp of its broken canine tooth. In fall, when porcupines eat a lot of acorns and beechnuts, look for nipped twigs under oak and beech trees. They are highly opportunistic hunters that can catch and eat anything from mice to elephants and everything in between. However, prior to this study, no one had carefully compiled all the records of lions injured by porcupines to better understand the two species’ relationship. One lung had completely failed and consolidated, and the other was wounded significantly.”. Pressing Escape from top-level menus closes entire menu. Lions that lived on harsher, drier terrain seemed to rely more on porcupines for food, at least periodically, perhaps because other prey weren't available. Some mountain lions, in fact, seem to be especially fond of porcupines—perhaps they like the taste, perhaps porcupines are just easy prey, but … They make shake them, which makes them rattle, as a warning to potential predators. Vehicles Finally Offered on Civilian Market, The US Navy’s New Aquatic Drone is a Cross Between a Tuna and a Shark, Video: Lone 9x19mm Cartridge Flies Off into Space. The team found evidence of about 50 lions that had been injured or killed by porcupines since the 17th century. Lion cubs eager for a meal find themselves in a prickly situation. The African savannah can be a very cruel place during the dry season and will leave a lion desperate. Do not feed deer. Historical records show what leads lions to hunt porcupines and what happens when they do. The length of the porcupine needles reaches up to 40 cm, if they are pricked, they can cause inflammation. Researchers with Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project recently discovered a dead female mountain lion near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. But their backs are covered in sharp quills made of keratin, the same material as hair and fingernails. The team found evidence of about fifty lions that had been injured or killed by porcupines. Over time, the quills stuck in F99 migrated to her lungs, killing her from the inside. Young lions, on the verge of starvation, will eat grass even just to fill their stomachs for a while and not have the feeling of being hungry. “There was a tendency for males to be more often wounded or killed by porcupines—sort of a ‘young foolish male syndrome,’” says Kerbis Peterhans. Porcupines use the quills as a defense. Generally speaking, lions attack humans if something’s wrong, like if they’re not physically able to take down their usual prey or if they don’t have enough space or resources to hunt normally. What are the African lion facts about their diet - what exactly do they eat? Lions that lived on harsher, drier terrain seemed to rely more on porcupines for food, at least periodically, perhaps because other prey weren’t available. One reason appears to be prey deficient landscapes, given that lions prefer to hunt larger hooved animals. “Her ovaries had not developed at all. Herbivore - fruit, bulbs, roots, bark, crops, sometimes carrion. The team scanned the skulls of two man-eating lions from 1965. They sometimes turned to easier prey, like cattle or even humans. Not much can mess with a lion. Porcupines do not carry many diseases that are worrisome to humans except for rabies. They’re four-hundred-pound top predators, bringing down large prey like wildebeests, zebras, and even giraffes. Lions can bring down wildebeests and giraffes, but when they try to hunt porcupines, the spiky rodents often come out on top. These injuries can make it impossible for the lions to hunt normally, leading them to hunt livestock or even humans. Lions that lived on harsher, drier terrain seemed to rely more on porcupines for food, at least periodically, perhaps because other prey weren't available. In many of these cases, the lions’ injuries made it harder for them to hunt or eat. The scene reminds when you came across a group of young lions trying to figure how to eat a porcupine the porcupine won that one also. In addition to piecing together clues about what drives lions to hunt porcupines despite the risk the rodents pose, the researchers were able to use CT scans to more closely examine the effects that porcupine quills have had on lion specimens. The short answer to ‘what do lions eat?’ is ‘a lot’ – both in terms of variety and amount. Porcupines of the Old World do not climb trees. The most obvious trait is the long, sharp quills that cover their bodies. They were, according to the vet, the size of a 6-month-old house cat kitten. Other porcupine … Use Escape to move to parent menu from submenu items. Use up and down arrow keys to move between submenu items. These quills, which can be a foot long or more, can detach and get stuck in the flesh of predators careless or desperate enough to attack the porcupines. North American porcupines also eat fruit, leaves, and springtime buds. Moreover, the most feared predator that feeds on porcupines are the fishers. When … Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between top-level menus. Lions try to take on prickly porcupines. And most of the lions injured by porcupines were male. “We were like detectives,” says Celesia of the forensic work the team did to better understand the injuries that the lions sustained and figure out what the effects on the lions’ hunting abilities would be. All porcupines have a few traits in common. I can tell you about porcupines from Canada, and echidnas from Australia. Use up and down arrow keys to move between submenu items. I do hope the lions gave up! The report, published in the Journal of East African Natural History in May, suggests that lions usually avoid porcupines, unless a shortage of prey drives them to the prickly critters. Lions try to take on prickly porcupines. Historical records show what leads lions to hunt porcupines and what happens when they do. “CT scans let us reconstruct what happened in the past.”. Lions are also efficient scavengers who watch for vultures to find dead animals and listen for hyena whoops in order to steal their kills. How Does porcupine attack? “In social contexts, a lion can remove porcupine quills with the help of a friend, but this is not possible if they are solitary,” he explains. Bravo to the pangolin. They eat natural bark and stems, and have been known to invade campgrounds and chew on canoe paddles. The team scoured scientific literature, stories in the popular press, and even YouTube videos looking for evidence of lion-porcupine interactions. “It’s David and Goliath on the African savanna. porcupines are in a class of their own when it comes to defense. Researchers believed that it was likely the first time that the young cat ever saw a porcupine. The cat died some five weeks after it consumed the porcupine. Two wildlife regions that have analyzed the lion diet - African lions prefer a diet of medium and large prey in … Some North American porcupines are passionate lovers of salt, they are known for gnawing gloves, boots and saddles, salted with sweat. If that doesn't work, they may charge backwards into the predator. Some mountain lions will actually develop a taste for porcupines, and expertly skin the animals after slaying them. They’re four-hundred-pound top predators, bringing down large prey like wildebeests, zebras, and even giraffes. The deceased mountain lion, a small, 16-month old orphan designated F99, was only 40 pounds by the time her carcass was found. There are stories and records of lions getting injured by porcupines going back hundreds of years—in June, July, and August of 1656,an official from the Dutch East Company in Cape Town wrote in his diary about three different lions that had been stuck with porcupine quills. Mostly the porcupine is an herbivore, with poor eyesight but yes, great smelling sense. A family group often develops an extensive inter-connected burrow system. The fisher, or North American marten, is a fierce predator of the American … What a fabulous experience to actually see a pangolin. Porcupines – A Brief Overview. Elbroch noted that the feline was already an accomplished hunter, but may have had some difficulty with actually eating its unfamiliar prey. And the study has broader ecological significance, too. Historic records tell us that when environmental conditions deteriorate, particularly in areas where lions and their preferred prey are already living on the edge, they find themselves in serious trouble with nearby humans or their livestock.”, “One moral of the story is that there no free lunch,” says Celesia. In spring, you might find nip twigs under sugar maple, white ash, and aspen, from which they eat the buds and young leaves. Mountain lions are among the most powerful predators in North America, yet even they sometimes keep their distance from porcupines. But while the lion may get a quick meal when it attacks a porcupine, the porcupine may win in the long run. In winter, when they eat the foliage of hemlock and spruce, look for nipped twigs under these trees. Feeding deer encourages them to remain in close proximity to humans. Victoria “Even the king of beasts doesn’t eat what he wants without paying a price.”. “I think that digging deeply into the historic literature, especially very early sources, has largely fallen out of fashion in the modern era,” says Tom Gnoske, a co-author of the paper and an assistant collections manager at the Field Museum. Although the large cats are known to occasionally prey on the spiky critters, they do not do so without risk—and they do not always succeed. A porcupine quill is tipped with hundreds of tiny barbs, which makes it difficult to remove enables it to travel deeper into its victim through movement. Porcupines face enemies quills facing upwards and outwards. Several trends appeared to emerge from the data. What do Porcupines Eat? Porcupines have the longest needles among all mammals. oh yes, definitely WARNING, GRAPHIC IMAGES, SCROLL DOWN AT YOUR OWN RISK. Lions, hyenas, leopards, and birds of prey may attempt to attack porcupines but they won’t have much success. “But if they do puncture vital organs, the porcupine may kill their attacker slowly, even long after the porcupine was killed itself.”. At just 40 pounds, Elbroch said that the cat was astoundingly small even for her age. Wolves in a pack can do this to porcupines. Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between top-level menus. The scans showed evidence of bone infections that would have impaired both of these lions’ ability to eat (or, in the case of the lion with a quill through its nose, to smell its prey)—factors that could have contributed to man-eating. Porcupines … To compound matters, young males aren’t just taking part in risky behavior, but when they so alone, without other lions to help them if they do get hurt, they are more vulnerable. Pressing Escape from top-level menus closes entire menu. The researchers found the cat slumped over the carcass of an elk that she had been scavenging. It grows up to 15 inches (38 cm) long. They also eat small animals like porcupines, rabbits, squirrels, marmots, and skunks. Use Escape to move to parent menu from submenu items. “Should the quills avoid large bones and vital organs, they can work their way straight through an animal with enough time and come out the other side several months after the encounter,” Mark Elbroch, the leader of the Teton Cougar Project, wrote in his blog on NationalGeographic.com. Lion cubs eager for a meal find themselves in a prickly situation. When lions attack porcupines (it's usually young male lions that make that mistake), the porcupine's spines can seriously injure the lion. Which Predators attack Porcupine? In 1965, an emaciated male Lions prey on large animals such as the wildebeest, zebra, gemsbok, buffalo and even giraffe. These animals have learned that flipping a porcupine on its back exposes its unprotected underside and leaves it basically defenseless. 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