Tuesday, October 31, 2006


MARC ABRAHAMS, GUARDIAN, UK - How do porcupines make love? Wendy Cooper
discovered the answer while poking around the basement of the Australian
National University library in Canberra about five years ago. . . Cooper
found two studies written (one with co-authors) by Albert Shadle, of the
University of Buffalo, New York, in 1946. . . One paper is called The
Sex Reactions of Porcupines (erethizon d. dorsatum) Before and After
Copulation. The other is Copulation in the Porcupine. . .

The porcupines in the study were part of a colony that Shadle kept at
the University of Buffalo. . . Come mating season, the scientists would
place a male into a cage that already contained a female. Cooper
described the subsequent action. First came courtship: "When the male
encountered the female porcupine, he smelled her all over, then reared
up on his hind legs ... If she was prepared for mating, she also reared
up and faced the male, belly-to-belly. In this position, most males then
sprayed the female with a strong stream of urine, soaking her from head
to foot. She would 1) object vocally, 2) strike with her front paws, as
though boxing, 3) threaten or try to bite, or 4) shake off the urine and
run away. If ready for mating, the female did not object strongly to
this shower."

Then the porcupines did the business: "The male made sexual contact from
behind the female. The spines of both animals were relaxed and lay flat.
His thrusts were of the 'usual nature' and were produced by flexing and
straightening the knees. Males did not grasp the female in any way.
Mating continued until the male was exhausted ... If males refused to
co-operate, the female approached a nearby male and acted out the male
role in coition with the uninvolved male.". . .


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