Prickly porcupines mate without hurting each other. Here’s how.

Behind every baby porcupine, there’s a reproduction ritual that involves tree fights, urine squirts, and covering quills during copulation.

As an observer of the North American porcupine for more than 30 years, Uldis Roze has no idea how many times he has heard this joke.

How do porcupines reproduce? Very carefully.

That answer is “correct, but not very enlightening,” says Roze, a professor emeritus of biology at New York’s Queens College. In reality, the mating ritual of the quill-covered Erethizon dorsatum is quite elaborate, protracted, and … damp.

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