After a few weeks of care at the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (CWRC), the female porcupine has gained weight and now enjoys strolling around inside the building and munching on corn.
“She was probably in the worst shape of any porcupine we’ve had in here,” said Dr. Helene Van Doninck, the veterinarian who runs the CWRC. “She was found on the side of a road in Debert and, when a man approached her, she tried to move and fell over.”
When Van Doninck X-rayed the porcupine she discovered the animal was pregnant. The vet believes Mama Porc was having trouble using her hind legs because the fetus was putting pressure on the nerves. Because the porcupine was so weak, Van Doninck didn’t want to anesthetize the animal, so she used local freezing before stitching up the porcupine's head, which had a hole running right through from side to side. The injury could have been caused by a predator or by being shot.
After a couple of weeks at the centre ,Mama Porc went into labour and was having trouble. Van Doninck was ready to take her to Central Nova Animal Hospital and do a C-section, but the porcupette’s head emerged and the vet was able to help pull the youngster out.
“It was dead and I think it had been dead for a while,” she said. “It’s sad but she wasn’t well enough to raise a baby anyway. She wasn’t producing any milk.”
Mama Porc has her own enclosure at the centre, where she relaxes and enjoys a diet of corn, apples and pellets. She gets out regularly to stroll around the building and, although she can be a little shy, she seems to forget she’s being watched when a cob of corn is placed in front of her.
“In a few weeks we’ll release her at a remote location,” added Van Doninck. “We usually release wildlife in the area where it was found but she wasn’t safe where she was.”