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On the Wild Side: Strange news from the World of Wildlife!

Safety First

It's the time of year when porcupines are feeling frisky. But that's not the real news. The real news is that porcupines are able mate without inflicting serious harm on one another.

The porcupine, of course, is known for its sharp quills -- excellent for self-defense but intimidating for a suitor. One misstep and . . . ouch! Thus it's important not to surprise one's partner. First, the female must relax its quills, and then the male must squirt the female with high-pressure jets of urine. These are a few of the steps in one of nature's more elaborate mating rituals.

And if the encounter is a success, a little porcupine appears seven months later. Fortunately for the mother, the infant is born in a placental sac, and its short quills are soft for the first half hour or so of its life.

Click here to learn more about the porcupine.