Which are more fascinating porcupine teeth or porcupine quills? You decide.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.Romans 1:20
Have You Ever Seen Porcupine Teeth?
I checked for traffic and pulled my Prius to the side of the road. Ahead of me, I could see the lumbering form of a porcupine. For years, I’d wanted a good photograph of a porcupine, but on my long drives to Alaska, they always seemed to move into the dense brush before I could focus my camera.
But this little guy seemed oblivious. He walked with deliberate steps through the brown, snow-matted grasses. He sought out small stick-like shrubs. I grabbed my camera, carefully got out of the car, and closed the door behind me. As I walked parallel to the porcupine, I snapped photo after photo before I finally remembered to make sure I had the settings right.
When I zoomed in on one of my shots, I couldn’t believe my eyes! I had no idea porcupine teeth weren’t white. All my previous attempts at porcupine photography involved side and back views of the shy creatures as they lumbered away as fast as their short legs could take them.
After years of waiting for a cooperative porcupine, I discovered porcupine teeth stand out like a lifejacket at church. Amidst the browns, blacks, and beiges of their fur and quills, their bright orange teeth make quite a splash.
Fun Facts About Porcupines
Why are porcupine teeth orange? As the second-largest rodent in North America, porcupines share something in common with their bigger cousins, the beaver. Their diet consists mostly of plants—including tree bark. Plants have a high iron content, which gets absorbed by the enamel of the porcupine teeth. This causes them to have reddish-orange teeth instead of pearly whites. It also causes their urine to come out the same color.
Most people know about porcupines because of their quills, not their colorful teeth. But did you know porcupines even have quills inside their ears? When God created porcupines, he gave them an amazing defense system. Their quills—a type of hollow hair follicle—have barbs and a natural antibiotic coating on the end. The barbs stick into the tender flesh of predators who get too close. No, a porcupine can’t throw quills at you any more than your scalp could toss hair at strangers. The antibiotic coating prevents infection if a porcupine happens to pierce itself with its own quills. They don’t have the grace of a cheetah and do fall out of trees.
When I think of the incredible detail God put into even the humblest animal, I know I have no excuse for my lack of faith.
Father God, the world presents evolution as a fact instead of a theory or belief system. Keep my eyes open as I observe the wonders of your creation. The care you took designing the porcupine—from its bright orange teeth to the antibiotic coating on its quills shows your power and majesty. I, too, am wonderfully and fearfully made.