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.
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.
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.
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.