Porcupines, or ‘cuddly cactuses,’ popping up more in Central Texas

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — It seems like more porcupines are popping up in Central Texas.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the species appears to be expanding its range eastward. Its range in Texas normally is limited to the western portion of the state, including the Panhandle and parts of the Hill Country.

Biologists for the Texas Parks and Wildlife don’t know exactly why it is happening, but it could be because of changing habitats or the species is adapting to more eastern habitats.

People log when they spot the animals on the website iNaturalist. It shows lots of appearances for the mammal in Austin and Travis County, mostly west of Interstate 35.

The increased number of the prickly mammals is something Austin Wildlife Rescue has been seeing as well.

“We have probably started getting porcupines in, over the last two years, probably tenfold from what we have before,” said Jules Maron, operations manager of Austin Wildlife Rescue.

The agency treats injured animals, including one porcupine this year with a shattered ankle. While there may be more of the animals in Central Texas, people may not spot them often because they spend most of their time in trees, which is where they eat.

“They’re incredibly docile by nature, when they come in they’re pretty laid back,” added Maron. “A cuddly cactus is a great way to explain them.”

Austin Wildlife Rescue works to help injured animals recover so they can be released back in the wild. The agency depends on donations.

Texas Parks and Wildlife recommends if a person sees a porcupine, just leave them alone.

Earlier this year, Austin Animal Control had to be brought in to rescue a porcupine from a tree in downtown Austin.

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