Porcupines are usually dark brown or black in color, with white highlights. They have a chunky body, a small face, short legs and a short thick tail. They are up to 0.9 m long, and weigh up to 14 kg.
Their upper parts are covered with thousands of sharp, barbed hollow spines or quills (actually modified hairs), which are used for defense. Porcupines do not throw their quills, but the quills detach easily and the barbs make them difficult to remove once lodged in an attacker.
The quills are normally flattened against the body unless the animal is disturbed. The porcupine also swings its quilled tail towards a perceived threat.
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