Photo in the News: Stork Delivers Baby Porcupine

Photo: Newborn prehensile-tailed porcupine
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April 28, 2005—It'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 mystery sooner.

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.

—Sean Markey

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