A woman’s encounter with an odd-looking “puppy” took a strange turn when she realized it was an albino porcupine. Luckily, Maria Gibbons did not try to pet it or rub its belly.
It happened June 12 near Carthage in upstate New York, as Gibbons was ridding a four-wheeler with her husband, Trevor Gibbons, she told McClatchy News. Carthage is about 85 miles northeast of Syracuse.
“We noticed a light-colored animal walking down the train tracks … so we turned around to see what it was. We thought it might have been a puppy because it was smaller and there are dogs in the area,” she said.
“Upon approaching the animal I realized it was an albino porcupine! I jumped off the four-wheeler so fast to get a picture of it! I have never seen an albino animal in the wild, let alone a porcupine!”
Gibbons’ photos show it had yellow and white quills, a pink face, and it stared warily at her with red eyes. She did not venture close enough to get hurt, and was careful not to harass it.
North American porcupines are notorious for being covered with “thousands of stiff, needle-like, finely barbed hairs (quills) for defense,” according to Wildlifehelp.org. “Porcupines cannot ‘shoot’ their quills, but the quills come out quite easily on contact,” the site says.
The couple watched “in awe” for about 10 minutes before the porcupine vanished into the woods, she says.
Gibbons shared multiple photos on Facebook, where they have racked up 1,000 shares and hundreds of reactions and comments. Reactions range from fascination to people who are freaked out at the sight.
“Bizarre,” Marcel Garant wrote on Facebook. “That would be a painful puppy,” Brittany Crosswhite posted. “Water contamination … causes this,” Joanna Hudson guessed.