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How do porcupines release their quills?

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Porcupines are large North American rodents known for their defensive quills. The quills cover the porcupine's entire body, save the belly and the nose, and serve as a dangerous self-defense mechanism.Quill structureA porcupine's quills contain backward-pointing, hook-like barbs, according to Doctors Foster and Smith's Pet Education. These quills are only lightly attached to the porcupine's body, raising when the animal is placed on the defensive.Quill for defenseA porcupine cannot "shoot" its quills, contrary to popular opinion. Tara Prindle's NativeTech explains that the porcupine can only use these quills defensively, and only when in direct contact with an attacker.Embedding quillsOnce in contact, the porcupine beats the attacker with its tail, NativeTech continues. This effectively stabs the many barbed quills deep into the attacker's flesh.Embedded quillsThe quill's hundreds of barbs hook into the attacker's flesh, allowing the quills to crawl deeper and deeper. The quills can ... more
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