Some mammals, like porcupines, don't really hibernate in the winter, but they do become a little less active! Even in the winter though, you can see signs they are around, even if you don't see them. Naturalist Charlie Browne showed me the side of a building that had been chewed on by a porcupine!
"This is clearly porcupine gnawing, you can tell by the width of the teeth marks there!"
"It looks like a beaver to me!"
"Well they're about almost as big and they are related, they are both rodents. Porcupines have a desperate appetite for salt, and because they can't find natural salt licks in much of their habitat, they find whatever they can in chemically treated wood, and road salt. Those are things that really attract porcupines."
"What else do they eat?"
"Well they mostly eat twigs in the wintertime. They're herbivores like other rodents and one of their favorites are these hemlocks right here. They will actually gnaw on the tender tips of those twigs, and often if there's a porcupine in the area, you'll see the ground carpeted with twigs that have fallen from the tree, because it feeds from up high in the tree."
"They don't hibernate though do they?"
"No, they don't. They den up in hollow maple trees primarily, hollow logs or big standing hollow trees, such as this maple tree right here. They'll den up in there and come out during the day primarily, but sometimes at night as well, and just look for whatever's for plant food nearby. They don't have a lot of demand for energy in the winter, because they're pretty slow."
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