April 28, 2005It's a
well, we don't know the sex
yet. A female prehensile-tailed porcupine gave birth to this baby at
the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo in Washington, D.C.,
earlier this month. (The zoo released the photo Tuesday.) Staff say
they wouldn't normally know if the newborn is a boy or a girl for
another six months, but this time they'll use DNA tests to solve the
Native to South America, prehensile-tailed porcupines (Coendou prehensilis) are mostly nocturnal. The plant-eaters use their nimble tails to climb and hang from trees and are known to stamp their hind feet when excited. As for their big noses, the rodents' keen sense of smell helps compensate for their nearsightness.
In case you're wondering, the recent birth at the zoo wasn't as painful as the animal's porcupine name might imply. C. prehensilis infants are born with fur, not quills.
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