University Studies of the University of Nebraska


Date of this Version





Publication NO.2 of the Nebraska State Biological Survey.

Nebraska porcupines all belong to the yellow-haired species (Erethizon epixanthum) , and these animals have never been abundant in the state. Formerly, however, they were much more numerous than today, and enjoyed a more extended range in the state than they do at the present time. Up to about 1885 these animals occurred across the northern portion of Nebraska east at least to Pierce and Madison counties, there being records of four specimens secured along the small streams tributary to the Elkhorn river in these two counties between 1870 and 1885. Also, in March, 1900, a specimen was killed along the Republican river at Orleans, Harlan county, Nebraska, by Eskey Cobb and is now in the A. M. Brooking collection. As early as 1880 Aughey referred to these animals as being present in the state in small numbers only. All of the more recent records of the occurrence of porcupines in Nebraska have come from the counties west of the 100th meridian, and mostly from the Pine Ridge of Sioux and Dawes counties and the North Platte valley in Scottsbluff and Banner counties. However, in this study I have carefully examined four mounted porcupines which are in the Rees Heaton collection and which were taken at intervals up to 1903 in Frontier and other western counties. Also, a suhadult female porcupine was captured alive with a lasso near the Roseberry ranch in the Cherry county sandhills north of Mullen, Hooker county, September 12, 1914, by Carl Kiehl, quite away from any timber. This specimen was taken to Omaha and sold there, whence it came into my possession by purchase, and is now in the University collection. In August of that same year (1914), a porcupine was killed in a cottonwood grove west of the city of North Platte, Lincoln county, about three miles from the river, according to Mr. Wilson Tout. Mr. Tout saw the specimen, which, unfortunately, was not preserved.

In the winter of 1900-1901 a porcupine was reported as killed by a ranchman in the Pine Ridge near Harrison, Sioux county, but was not preserved, and a Plateau Lynx killed in southern Sioux county on February 9, 1916, had numerous porcupine quills in its head. Mr. L. M. Gates writes me that two porcupines were caught in the Ridge near Chadron, Dawes county, during the fall of 1915. But the center of abundance of this animal in N ebraska during recent years seems to be in the North Platte valley. On January 8, 1896, a specimen was received at the University from Scottsbluff county and was mounted for the Museum. During the summer of 1913 Dr. R. H. Wolcott saw a porcupine lying by the roadside in Banner county. On July 28, 1914, Mr. P. P. Wilcox, of Minatare, Scottsbluff county, caught a porcupine in an oats field seven miles north of the town of Scottsbluff, and he kept the animal in captivity in the town of Minatare for a time, but it finally chewed its way out of its cage and escaped. At about the same time Mr. J. N. Wood, of Scottsbluff, captured another specimen in about the same manner. On September 26, 1915, Mr. J. E. Dorothy found a fine old male porcupine in the trees on his farm three miles east of Mitchell, Scottsbluff county, and captured it alive. It was sent to me on September 30 and kept alive in captivity until October 19, when· it was killed and added to the author's collection at the University. Later in the fall Mr. F. C. White, a neighbor of Mr. Dorothy, found another porcupine on his farm in a beet field and sent it alive to Hastings College, from whence it was sent to an eastern museum. These, with other records that I have been unable to fully verify, indicate that porcupines are yet surviving in fair numbers in extreme western Nebraska.

A careful comparison of the available Nebraska specimens with the published measurements and descriptions of the various described subspecies of yellow-haired porcupines, and with specimens of the typical subspecies, convinces me that the Nebraska animal may well be separated under the name

Erethizon epixanthum bruneri subsp. nov.


Type.-Three miles east of Mitchell, Scottsbluff county, Nebraska, September 26, 1915. (f adult (No. 305, Collection of State Entomologist, University of Nebraska). J. E. Dorothy, collector.