The National Zoo’s newest baby is adorable, albeit not exactly cuddly—a tiny, prehensile-tailed porcupine was born overnight, between January 3 and January 4, the zoo announced Wednesday.
The baby, known as a porcupette, is the second offspring for parents Quillbur and Beatrix. Their first born, Quillium, got his moniker after the Zoo launched a naming contest.
Prehensile-tailed porcupines are native to South America and are one of 18 species of New World porcupines, the zoo says. At birth, they have a soft and hair-like coat that hardens into rigid quills within minutes. Maria Montgomery, the porcupette’s keeper, says the baby is growing at a nice rate, nursing well, and keeping close to Momma Beatrix. It could take up to six months to determine the wee one’s sex.
When the newborn is old enough, he or she will join the zoo’s Small Mammal House, which is currently closed because of Covid safety restrictions. The zoo hasn’t announced when visitors will be permitted to see the baby, but Montgomery hopes that visiting hours will return by the spring.