Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Made a charming discovery the other day. Walked up the hill from town along the country lane which mainly runs parallel to the main road, but cuts off a big loop and runs through the fields, so gets you home faster and has lovely trees and fields and views of the valley, with birds, chickens and friendly dogs. Lots of times you see the remains of birds that have been "got" by the local predators, so I usually keep my eyes peeled for interesting nature-related things. This time, what caught my eye that looked a bit like a pile of black and white feathers on the path turned out to be the quills of a porcupine.
I was delighted with this find, since I had no idea we had them in Italy. But there is a species that is native to Italy and North Africa called the Crested Porcupine, and it has very elegant black and white quills. The longest as long as my forearm and the shortest no more than the width of my hand. I picked up a few and brought them home and am going to try my hand at making a pen from them.
I read a bit about them, and they're quite interesting. Apparently, unlike N. American porkies, these are not arboreal, but live in dens, into which they have the odd habit of collecting bones they find round about. I haven't found out whether they chew on these, like a parrot with a cuttle bone, for calcium or even if anyone knows what they're doing with the bones. Notably, Crested Porcupines are known to have dug up and hidden in their dens the bones of prehistoric animals like the Deinotherium.
I'd love to see one, but they're mostly nocturnal. And so are the wolves, so, I'll probably be leaving them alone for now. Still, I keep thinking it would be worthwhile to invest in and set up a webcam. There are lots of signs of interesting wildlife around, nearly all of which only comes out at night.