While walking in the woods the other day I caught a strong whiff of body odor. Adrian rarely sweats, let alone smells, so I surreptitiously checked my own armpits. It wasn’t me either, thankfully.
So what was the funky smell? Maybe a porcupine. Adrian went to a rabbit hunting workshop recently and the leaders there pointed out the strong smell and said that’s what porcupines smell like. ((They wanted to get the porcupine out of the enclosure because it can kill the beagles these guys hunt with. And no, we are not getting a beagle or going to start hunting rabbits.))
I’m not sure whether the scent comes from some sort of musk or secretion, from its urine, or what, but if you smell B.O. in the woods and it’s not emanating from you, scan the trees for a porcupine. Yes, trees. If you’ve never seen a porcupine in a tree it’s a very strange sight! They’re so big. It’s like the first time you see a turkey in a tree–it just doesn’t look right.
I spotted this one at dusk, so I wasn’t able to get a great picture of it, but it shows how adept these critters are at climbing. Though I’ve been told by naturalist Mary Holland (and it’s “confirmed” on Wikipedia) that they fall out of trees fairly frequently!
We never did see any porcupines the other day, which is probably a good thing–the last thing we need is another vet bill for extracting quills from Ollie’s face. He’s not the type of dog likely to get the hint that the porcupine doesn’t want to play. He’s already been sprayed by a skunk who, according to Adrian, gave Ollie plenty of chances to walk away before turning tail and spraying him. Alas. So I’ll keep an eye out–and my nose open–for more of this distinctive smell on the trails and hope to spot the creature way up in the trees in a hollow den this winter.