Porcupines in Texas are Moving East

Have you seen a porcupine lately? If you live in central Texas, the chances are you’ve noticed one in a tree or on the road. If you haven’t seen one yet, keep your eyes out, because they’re expanding into new territory.

In the past few years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has been contacted by numerous people reporting porcupines in central Texas. Porcupines are known to occur primarily in northern and western Texas, but not so much in the central portion of the state. The map below shows the generally accepted distribution of porcupines in Texas.

Previously known range of porcupines in Texas. From "The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition".
Previously known range of porcupines in Texas. From “The Mammals of Texas – Online Edition”.

While receiving all these porcupine reports was interesting, they were also anecdotal and difficult to interpret. However, now a new tool called iNaturalist has enabled members of the public to record and share wildlife observations. iNaturalist uses photos, GPS locations, and community identifications to improve the reliability of the data and it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for biologists and researchers to learn about wildlife from the public.

Currently, iNaturalist has 73 porcupine reports for Texas since 2012. The map of these observations supports the reports we received from the public. While we shouldn’t confuse an abundance of observations with the abundance of porcupines (the number of observations is also influenced by the number of people making observations), these data clearly demonstrate a shift in our understanding of the distribution of porcupines in Texas.

Texas porcupine observations in iNaturalist from 2012 – 2015.
Porcupine observations in iNaturalist from 2012 – 2015.

It’s exciting to see how much we can learn in a few short years when people combine their efforts and share their knowledge. Check out the Mammals of Texas iNaturalist Project to start learning about other mammals in the state.

So keep your eyes peeled for porcupines! They are fascinating animals and if you live in Austin or San Antonio, they may be headed your way.

11 thoughts on “Porcupines in Texas are Moving East

  1. Paul Robertson May 12, 2015 / 7:18 pm

    I’m a professional mammalogist (Ph.D Kansas ’75) and was a prof at Trinity University from 75-91. In the late 80’s I was driving west to Alpine fairly often and was astounded at how many porcupines I was seeing as road-kills. They were most numerous from the western section of the Hill Country all the way west to Alpine. It was nothing to see 10 or so dead animals on the road. Someone was working on porcupines for a thesis back then at one of the parks in the western section of the hill country but I cannot recall out of what school. She was trying to radio track them, had 10 or so tagged but kept loosing them to a mountain lion. Between 99 and 2004 I was head of the non-game program for Tx parks and wildlife and we had lots of reports of porcupines as far east as Bastrop and I had a skull from a roadkill south of Dallas. The best way to find out if porcupines are in an area is to contact local vets because dogs are always the first to find them.
    Paul Robertson, Salida Colorado –

  2. Dusty Kobs December 1, 2015 / 7:50 pm

    I found a dead porcupine in far west Harris County. It had been hit by a car. I gathered it up and turned it in to be sent to Texas A&M. This was in October 2015. I thought it a fluke until an employee and amatuer naturalist recently called to tell me he had recently seen (Nov 2015) a dead adult porcupine on Hwy 290 just E of Hempstead in Waller County (the county that borders Harris to the West. Im starting to think they are moving East faster than expected.

  3. Larry Turner September 1, 2016 / 5:41 pm

    Hello, For the purpose of updating your map: This winter my wife and I sighted porcupine crossing road on hwy 377 one mile south of the Denton Rd. (which is just north of Sandusky Texas). We saw the porcupine in Grayson County which appears to be the first sighting so far in that county. Reported to Feds at Hagerman NWR at that time. Tried several times to report to TPWD but no one seemed to know who to report sighting to. Never saw one before but sure of what we saw. I saw it in the ditch and couldn’t believe my eyes. I turned around and it waddled across the road 10 feet in front of our car. If you need any more info. I will furnish. If you know who and how to report sighting to at TPWD please do. Thanks, Larry Turner

  4. Stephen September 12, 2016 / 1:18 am

    I had a dog that got hit by a porcupine in central Bell County around 2003. Had about 20-30 quills in the lips and mouth area. I just assumed they were just shy and I never saw them. I didn’t know that we were at the edge of their range.

  5. Amy Smith November 24, 2016 / 3:35 pm

    I have property in Tyler County in East Texas and two days ago I was out in the woods with my great dane when she yelped very loudly and I found about 100 needle type things stuck in her sweater. She looks like a deer so I put a pink sweater on her during hunting season. I don’t know if they could be from a porcupine but I have never seen anything like it. She was sniffing around in the woods one minute and whimpering the next. She stayed very close to me after that.

  6. Cheryl Halbert February 3, 2017 / 11:28 pm

    I saw one on STEPP Road just off hwy 6 in Quanah Tx on Jan.31.
    Rather large. Even able to snap a picture.

  7. Erick Hubertus March 14, 2017 / 5:01 pm

    You are my inspiration, I have few web logs and infrequently run out from brand :). “To die for a religion is easier than to live it absolutely.” by Jorge Luis Borges.

  8. Ray wildman March 31, 2017 / 1:46 pm

    Saw a porcupine in St. HEDWIG Tx.
    The morning of 03/30/2017 in moms front yard
    What a treat

  9. Nancy April 17, 2017 / 8:53 pm

    I live in far northwestern Travis County (outside the Leander city limits) and over the years have had multiple dogs shot (some more than once) by porcupines. Doctor Frank Stiles is the vet who removed the quills last time, as they were very small (maybe a young porcupine?) – others we removed ourselves. So I believe they have been in this area for perhaps decades.

  10. Kristina May 1, 2017 / 5:22 pm

    I saw one in the parking lot at my work in New Braunfels last night..
    I had no idea what it was until I saw the quills raise up!!

  11. Brenda Stanley June 26, 2017 / 1:14 am

    I live CR 400 in Jones Creek located in Southern Brazoria County. The Brazos River is in our backyard and we are 7 miles from the Gulf. Last month one was ran over in front of the house. We thought last year’s flood brought them down this far.

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