One Family’s Adventures Raising a Cuddly Baby Porcupine

By Sue Roberts of the Sirikoi Lodge in Kenya

We found Nung (NUNGUNUNGU is Swahili for porcupine) when she was just a few  days old. She was at the entrance to her burrow, lying next to her dead mother.  We did not know why her mother died, but suspected it was from poisoning. So  we fed the baby milk from a tiny bottle with cerealac, and from the start, she  had a fantastic appetite and adopted us as her family.

With a love for all creatures, Sue’s team at the  Sirikoi Lodge have helped orphaned wildlife of many species.

Nung was very affectionate, wanting to snuggle up with us in bed or with the  dogs who tolerated her despite getting pricked by her sharp quills occasionally.  She used to travel with us in the Land Rover and by plane, happy to be in her  dark cat box (we covered it with a blanket) and she felt safe and would sleep  happily until we arrived. It must have felt like the burrow where she would  normally have lived.

Once we arrived, she would rush about the house and make a place for herself  where she would always go if she wanted to rest, usually in a cupboard or a dark  corner under a bed. If we called and she did not come, we would find her asleep  in her special place. She was a very content little porcupine, even in our alien  world.

One favorite place, when she was small, was to cuddle up under my hair and  suck my earlobe, which was very tickly. She was most put out when I had to stop  her doing this as she got bigger. She used to lie on my tummy when watching  television on the bed until she again got too big and had to be persuaded to  shift, at which point her quills would immediately spring up in protest, so I  had to be quite careful. Also, if she got a fright or was annoyed with the dogs,  her quills would spring up.

Nung enjoys a belly rub

She and the dogs would go for long walks which she loved. The dogs and  kids were her friends and family. She would have mad fits of joy, running round  and round the sleeping dogs, rattling her quills and doing a little dance. When  we went to the coast, she loved running down the beach with the dogs in the sand  but would not follow them into the water.

Enjoying Her meal of strawberries

She was soon fully grown and would spend some time each evening foraging  around in the garden. One evening, she did not return. We suspect she was taken  by the leopard who lived in the nearby forest. We were heartbroken, particularly  the children, as she was so much a part of our lives. We missed her cuddling up  on the sofa with us in the evening and bringing so much fun and humor to our  lives.


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