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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Porcupines? A threat to Tiny Houses and Cabins?? Yup....

Its not like we have enough things to worry about and maintain as homeowners, weekend cabin builders, and tiny house enthusiasts, but yep.... I've been waging an ongoing battle with porcupines on my land in northern Vermont, and I'm slowly, and barely, treading water in this battle.
In several areas of the country, porcupine are so damaging to cabins, stored materials, sheds, and tools, that you're bound to get a heroes welcome if you bag one. Beyond that (and I talk about this more in my book "Humble Homes, Simple Shacks") in some regions, the porcupine problem has gotten so bad that an introduced species (Fishercats- almost looking like descendants of Wolverines), have been brought in to combat this woodland problem.
They say that if an axe was left unattended in the woods for a long enough time (and not even THAT long, I imagine), that its handle would be eaten clear off by these spiked critters. Porcupines, you see, LOVE salinity, whether it be the oil in your hands that is left on an axe handle, or the salty and aromatic glues used in most plywoods on the market.

The aim of the video above wasn't to illustrate the "Porcupine Threat" point (and yes, I realize that they were there first), but you'll get to see a mere fraction of the damage that one porcupine did to our backwoods tree house sleep shelter in Vermont while we were away. This peek of the damage is shown once this short tour moves to the interior of this little tree house.

Notice the metal collars on the poles of this structure? It helps (a bit) to keep them at bay.... keeping nearby trees at a distance (to keep them from climbing a tree to get onto your structure) is also a very good idea too....
As for other techniques to keep Porcupines at bay- I list a few further below....

And should you happen to catch a porcupine red-handed, here's a recipe I found for Porcupine stew- kidding.... somewhat....  Many people in this region shoot these animals when caught, so if that was to be your choice of action, why let the animal just go to waste? I don't hunt, but I also don't like seeing anything wasted, IF someone was to bag a "quill-dog".

As for my book, where I get more in depth with my dealings with Porcupine, you can check it out here....
They ARE fascinating animals, with an amazing adaptation for survival, but man oh man they're a pain in the butt!

(a short list of what works and what doesn't- (I've tried EACH of these techniques for long durations after they were recommended to me, or researched online).

SPREAD HOT SAUCE ON THE AFFECTED AREAS- DOES NOT WORK (hot sauce is loaded with salt, I could almost hear them laughing at night)

PLACE MOTH BALLS and MOTH FLAKES around the base of your cabin and near the damaged areas... DOES NOT WORK- made no difference...still LOTS of damage....

CLAD THE LOWER AREAS OF YOUR CABIN. They seem to like pressure treated wood and cedar less (they WILL still nibble on it), but metal is a deal-breaker for them, whether it be corrugated panels (our entire outhouse is now clad this way), hardware cloth (screening), or pole sleeves (metal). DOES WORK or at least slows 'em down...


HIGH SPEED METAL COMING FROM A GUN- DOES WORK, but you'll get new visitors in your territory soon enough....

Fox Urine- seriously, they sell it online.... HAVEN'T TESTED, but I hear that they results are mixed, and you need to reapply at the base of your cabin frequently (and it stinks!).

Porcupines are nocturnal too, so they can be hard to nab. They are very slow though, and have no real enemies, aside from the Fishercats, and fox, by occasion.

Also (above)- "MICROSHELTERS" is my NEXT upcoming book- now on pre-order for a September release....


  1. Helpful info! I have a related concern, the property where I will park my tiny house has moles. I've wondered if I should anticipate this as a problem and what if anything I can do to avoid any possible damage or unwelcome "intrusion" into my house.

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