30,000 quills: Akron Zoo’s porcupine trained to stand up for safer vet visits (video)

30,000 quills: Akron Zoo’s porcupine trained to stand up for safer vet visits (video)
Forest is an ambassador for the Akron Zoo. The porcupine has been taught to stand and expose his belly, a trick that makes keeping him healthy much easier. (Source: Michael Dakota)

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - How do you examine a porcupine with 30,000 barbed quills? Carefully, the answer is very carefully.

Forest is North American porcupine that calls the Akron Zoo home.

The 5-year-old, 21-pound rodent is an ambassador for the zoo who frequently visits schools and greets visitors who come for the educational programs.

“He’s built like a tank, and travels about 2 mph,” Jennifer Clark said. “It’s those quills that protect him from predators.”

The animals are well cared for and examined by veterinarians frequently, but even putting a stethoscope to a porcupine’s belly could be precarious without proper training.

“We train the animals at the zoo to willingly participate in vet exams,” Clark said.

How do you examine a porcupine?

To avoid being pricked, Forest’s caretakers have taught him to stand on his back legs and expose his belly, something foreign in nature.

“So when he does that we’re going to give him his favorite treat of all, apple sauce," Clark said.

Clark said Forest, who was acquired from a rehabilitation center in Minnesota is very smart, and training only took two weeks.

“It’s less stressful for him, and that’s the biggest advantage,” Clark said.

Copyright 2019 WOIO. All rights reserved.