'Prickle Pup': Porcupine Enjoying Being Petted Like a Dog Delights Internet

One particularly spiky animal who is very fond of being petted has delighted the internet after a video was re-shared on Reddit on Tuesday.

The clip of Charlie the prehensile tailed porcupine was first shared on TikTok by Jawnie Payne—who uses the handle zookeeperjawnie—in June 2021, and has since been posted again on the popular Reddit forum r/aww where it has gained over 82,000 upvotes and hundreds of comments.

The prehensile tailed porcupine is one of 12 species of New World porcupines, according to the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.

Native to South American forests where they live in trees and eat fruits, they have short, thick quills that are almost as long as their bodies at around 13 to 19 inches long.

Payne shared the video of Charlie after being asked if he liked scratches. In the video she said: "So a lot of you have been asking me if he likes scratches or to be pet. I am his primary trainer and work with him every single day, which is the only reason I do this."

Payne pets the prickly porcupine carefully and says: "If you notice, I only pet him in the direction that his quills grow and he does let me scratch him—especially on his belly.

"[He is] letting me touch him everywhere, which is very helpful to the vets if he needs to be looked at."

Delighted by the video, one user on Reddit wrote: "Wow, I had no idea they were so cute," while another said: "Aw yes the adorable stab puppy. Very cute noises come from these."

Another Redditor joked, calling the animal a "prickle pup."

Payne told Newsweek: "He'll be 12 in August and I love that he's getting all of this love and attention. He's my favorite and not many people have ever seen a prehensile tailed porcupine!"

With over 1.4 million views on TikTok, the video has delighted viewers there too. One commenter wrote: "Oh my god. I've never seen a porcupine up close and their noses. It's so cute," while another said: "I have never seen a porcupine being petted I love them."

The prehensile tailed porcupine has a typical life expectancy of 12 to 17 years in human care, and they are excellent climbers who spent the majority of their time in trees, according to the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Charlie lives at Nashville Zoo where he is cared for by a whole host of humans.
Jac Menish from the zoo told Newsweek that everyone's favorite prickly resident does need to get to know you before accepting pets: "He has to really get to know you before he lets you touch you. He needs to develop a lot of trust in his human caregivers."

Plus, those quills can do damage if you're not extremely careful. "They are very sharp," explained Menish: "But they can only penetrate the skin, no further. They are even more dangerous when they are not on him, as I have experienced.

"The worst injury I got from a quill was when I picked one up from the floor that Charlie had shed naturally. I put it on the table and forgot: later that day when I went to pick something up from the table I forgot the quill was there and it jammed deep into my hand."

Charlie is a much-loved resident at the zoo, and the humans around him hope that his online fame will help people learn more about these amazing animals.

"People can't care about animals like Charlie unless they know they exist," said Payne.

"We love Charlie so much here," said Menish: "It makes our hearts glad when others share this love. He is here to help teach people about these amazing animals and their habitats, and hopefully as a result people will be inspired to join us in our efforts to preserve and protect animals and their homes."

Charlie the porcupine
A picture of Charlie the prehensile tailed porcupine enjoying a snack. Charlie has taken the internet by storm after a delightful video of him went viral. Nashville Zoo/Jawnie Payne

Update 03/25/22, 03:30 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include a picture of Charlie, video and comment from Jawnie Payne and Nashville Zoo.

CORRECTION 03/25/22, 12:45 p.m. ET: This article was updated to correctly attribute several comments to Jac Menish.