Home | Hong Kong | Country Parks | Photo of the Week #8: Porcupine on The Peak

Photo of the Week #8: Porcupine on The Peak

porcupine-on-the-peak

An artist’s impression of the Porcupine on the Peak

A spiky surprise

I saw a porcupine on The Peak on Friday evening. In fact, I saw two. Heading back from a very cold couple of hours high up on High West, I was making my way along Lugard Road to catch the bus when, rustling out of the undergrowth about fifteen metres in front of me, a rather large and rather spiky thing emerged into the orange glow of the street lights. It paused a few seconds sniffing the air, had a little look left and right as every well-schooled, safety-conscious porcupine should, then carried on across the path and up the other side of the hill.

It wasn’t exactly inconspicuous, fully grown and dragging its spines across the pavement before shuffling its way, like a lost drunk, through the bushes. It also wasn’t exactly smelling great either. Apparently, porcupines can release a bit of a stink when they feel threatened. They raise their quills and release something that smells like a mixture of cat piss and Old Spice (maybe it was a lost drunk after all) and will almost certainly get you wondering when the last time you showered was. They are also one of the few mammals whose skin contains its own antibiotic – just in case it accidentally sticks itself with one of its quills – while the quills themselves contain a fluorescent pigment that makes them appear brighter at night in order to ward off predators. Pretty cool!

I hadn’t even known such things existed in Hong Kong. I was so surprised that instead of going straight for my camera, I just stood and stared, not wanting to scare him off too soon and amazed that such a creature was wandering around up there as if the last 100 years of urban development hadn’t happened. If I’d done my research, I’d have known that the area around Lugard Road is not unfamiliar territory for the porcupine. Although they generally only venture out at night, there have been several sightings up there in the gloom. Not what you would expect in the middle of Hong Kong Island.

I’ve read that there are wild boars and pythons up in the New Territories. There even used to be tigers in Hong Kong back in the early days. And everyone knows about Hong Kong’s monkeys. Maybe I’ll draw up a list, grab my camera and head out hunting next weekend. As for the porcupines, they were too fast for me to get a photo. But at least we’ve got this ‘artist’s impression’ that I managed to whip up.

Update #1:

I’ve been so surprised by the number of people finding this post and letting everybody know about their own HK wildlife sightings. It’s been great to hear about everyone elses’ exciting encounters. Keep up the good work.

Given the increasing number of sightings, and because I’m a massive geek, I decided to start plotting them on Google Maps so that anyone who’s interested in going on their own HK wildlife hunt can use it to decide where’s best to start looking.

Update #2:

Well, I’ve finally done it. It’s been over two years since my first Hong Kong porcupine encounter, but I’ve finally got the photographic evidence I’ve been looking for.

There were four of them all together, crossing Coombe Road from the children’s play area and disappearing into the undergrowth on the other side. Only they didn’t disappear. They stuck around, munching on branches, not caring at all that an excited guy with a camera was busy taking photos and videoing them in action. Thanks guys!

porcupine-crossing-the-road-hong-kong

A porcupine crosses Coombe Road … like it ain’t no thang!

hong-kong-porcupine

Branches. The cornerstone of any nutritious diet.

Get Involved: If you’ve had your own run-in with any of Hong Kong’s spiky night time wanderers (or any other cool kinda wildlife for that matter), please let me know what, where and when in the comments below and I can add it to the map. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to get a quick photograph, it’d be great if you could post the picture too. Happy hunting!

42 comments

  1. Mr and Mrs Porcupine out again on Bowen Rd running track tonight. Stopped for a chat but they were a bit prickly.

  2. Saw a porcupine tonight at Bowen Road Garden ~8pm. Saw two in the same place last week (albeit they were in the the bushes whereas this one was looking for a spotlight!). I hope they are not being displaced by all the construction nearby.

  3. Just saw a porcupine tonight at Bowen Road Garden ~8pm. Saw two in the same place last week (albeit they were in the the bushes whereas this one was looking for a spotlight!). I hope they are not being displaced by all the construction nearby.

  4. Saw a porcupine tonight at the Peak firestation, crossing the road. It was quite big and the quils were fully erect. Amazing sight

  5. Saw two porcupines crossing the trail path at Pik Shan Path (Mid-Levels) at around 6:30pm today – 20th Sept 2017

  6. I saw one on braemar hill, around 8:00pm. It was a very large creature, and shy!

  7. I saw two large ones in mid levels last night.. walking side by side down Hornsey Rd- off of Conduit. Scared me and my dogs as they were moving fast. No photos- was trying to keep the dogs distracted. 🙂

  8. 3 porcupines spotted foraging off the sides of the Bowen Rd running track tonight! A pair together on one side of the track about mid-way along and then another on the other side of the track a few hundred metres later!

  9. Tonight, after walking up from Hatton road and turned into lugard road, I heard some noise in the trees. In fact, it was noise from the fallen leaves. I turned around to see where the noise came from and I saw the back of the porcupine.
    It was really big and time was around 8 pm.

    • Thanks Remi. I think there must be a few of them up there. They may be noisy when they’re moving about in the undergrowth, but they’re surprisingly quick to get back out of view once they find themselves on the paths.

      I’m back in Hong Kong next week. I’ll be heading to Lugard Road to see what I can see.

      Thanks for the update!
      🕵️‍🕵️‍🕵️‍

  10. Hi,

    I’m so glad I found this post.

    I have some really bad news. My boyfriend lives on Manfield road and we’ve always driven by guildford road and mansfield road slowly. I’ve done a veterinary degree and have always loved spotting wild life.

    We’ve see two boars lately around there, very honest, genuine and harmless ones, dont worry and one night we spotted a porcupine too. He looked old I think it might have been the same porcupine you spotted a few years back.

    But tonight after my boyfriend drove me home and he drove back to his place, he saw the porcupine dead on the road. very sad I broke down since I heard, and would love to get some support in writing a letter to the government about putting more road lights and signs up for people to slow down near Guildford Road.

    It’s incredibly sad, that with so little wildlife left in Hong Kong, that people would drive SO fast, the porcupine was already walking very slowly the last time we spotted him, we stopped our car so he could cross the road. This was so unfair, from what the picture my boyfriend took of the body, the car must have hit in without braking. This is unbearable, incredibly sad and also so unfair to the wild life animals. Please get in touch with me if you know more, or have witnessed anything. Or simply agree with me that more signs should be put up and people to be educated online/by posters. I will be writing a letter to the government and if there are more people agreeing with me, it would be more persuasive.

    Thank you.

    and Rest in peace, that poor porcupine, he/she was a cute little one.

    • Hey Veronica,

      You’re absolutely right. There doesn’t seem to be much attention paid to the wildlife in Hong Kong by the authorities at the moment – especially on Hong Kong island. There’s always new construction going on around the slopes where they live – new apartments, slope maintenance, waterworks etc – which a) causes them to try and resettle away from the noise and disruption, and b) leads to more encounters with cars and people as they do so.

      It’s been a particular problem around Bowen Road and Lugard Road recently with the new construction that has been going on there. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re seeing more and more stories in the news about wildlife being found in the city.

      What can be done? Well, as you say, the very least that should be done is to make people aware that they may encounter wildlife on the roads when they’re driving by putting a few signs up. This makes sense from a road safety perspective if nothing else. Hopefully then we won’t have too many more stories like this.

      Thanks for the comment.
      🐶 🐱 🐭 🐹 🐰 🦊 🐻

  11. Way back in 2006, I was heading down Plunketts Rd. towards ParknShop, when I heard then saw a porcupine wandering down the middle of the road. I was totally amazed and very wary about getting anywhere close. I assumed it had escaped from someones menagerie rather than being a native.

  12. Saw a very big one (any maybe a second smaller one) last night crossing Pik Shan Path. Had just got dark and I didn’t really know what I was looking at. Until I found this page I thought I was going crazy!

  13. Saw two porcupines outside Island School at around 10pm on Borrett Road!

  14. Just before Xmas 2015 my wife and I were about to eat dinner at about 7pm on the deck at the HK Country Club when two civet cats ambled across the lawn. I went to take a photo but they suddenly bolted down the stairs, ran between the tables and the startled guests and disappeared before I could take a photo. What impressed me was they looked strong and very healthy.

    Out jogging down Deep Water Bay Drive a few days later I saw two porcupines cross the road and walk up the steep hill along a drain. They also looked extremely healthy and were quite clear where they were heading, no concerns about traffic or the fact there was a human standing 2 feet away.

    Another two weeks later, I walked down the same road with my wife and said to her how great it would be if we saw a porcupine or civet cat. We couldn’t believe our eyes when a civet cat calmly walked across the top of a gate, stopped mid-way to look into the courtyard and then jumped off the end, of the gate, heading down to the Deep Water Bay golf course. Although it was dark I took a photo and if you tell me how to post a photo from an i-phone to this website I’m happy to show it. Interesting for me as I have lived in HK since 1966 yet apart from a five banded civet cat I saw up Old Peak Road after leaving the Ladies Recreation Club in the early 1980s, I have never seen an Asian civet cat or porcupine. To then see so many at the end of 2015 gives me encouragement they are thriving (and, to boot, my wife saw a wild boar crossing Shouson Hill Rd in December 2015 too). Alas no photo as she was driving.

    • Great stuff!

      There do seem to be a lot of sightings recently. I’ve heard suggestions that there’s a lot of slope maintenance and waterworks construction going on at the moment in various places that is disturbing the animals’ usual habitat. I think around Bowen Road/Lugard Road this could certainly be the case.

      However, I’d probably put it down to the fact that there’s much more wildlife out there roaming about, particularly after dark, than people would generally expect in a big city like Hong Kong. That’s the beauty of 70% of the territory being country parks, I guess. Great!

      ps. If you want to upload your pic, you will probably need to do it from your desktop. Use the upload button at the bottom of the comments. Or you can join the new forum and upload it there if you like.

      http://www.strippedpixel.com/hong-kong-wildlife-spotters-wildlife-sightings-forum/

      Cheers,
      Paul

      • We live Mid Levels Central Tregunter Path (off May Road) out walking the dogs on Tregunter Path at 8.45 pm tonight and a Porcupine was walking down left hand side of road going towards Old Peak Road. Sorry no pic! We’ve only moved here from NZ been here for only 9 months so were very surprised to see one so soon!

  15. Saw one last week crossing the road at Shouson Hill! Huge!

  16. I saw two porcupines, one large, one small, early Friday on the HK trail just down from Wan Chai Gap Park. Just ambling along the trail – I had to stop and wait for them to go off into the woods before continuing my run. Unfortunately no camera.

  17. Saw a porcupine followed by a wild boar in Kwun Ping Road (just off Shatin Pass Road) tonight.

    • Cool!

      I’ve just read that the East Asian Porcupine is one of the “most abundant and widely distributed species in Hong Kong”. That’s no surprise given all the recent sightings here. bit.ly/1UjV3g6

      My mission next week … get a photograph to replace my (admittedly rather accurate) Windows Paint drawing.

      (•ᴥ• )́`́’́`́’⻍

  18. Saw two very large porcupines tonight on Old Peak Road, heading up from the Peak Tram terminus on what is my semi-daily walk around. They were quite big, and no noxious smells encountered.

    • Good spot!

      There seems to have been a few sightings recently. It’d be interested to know about the numbers of these guys living up there. I’m wondering if they are the same few that are being encountered. I reckon it’s likely.

      ★

  19. My wife and I have seen quite a few porcupines while on evening walks on Bowen Road , usually later when fewer runners are about . We’ve seen more in the past two years than in previous years . This may be related to the extensive waterworks-related construction uphill of the road stretching from East to West , which undoubtedly blocks some of their passageways . We’ve also seen lots of snakes , including bamboo snakes and one coral snake , and tokay geckos , at 30 cm long , Hong Kong’s largest gecko . Last night we spotted a masked palm civet , the third one we’ve seen . I snapped a pic but for some reason am unable to upload it here .

    • Hey Tom,

      I’ve fixed the photo uploader so it would be great if you could upload your civet photo.

      I used to go running in the evenings on Bowen Road and Black’s Link occasionally but saw a grand total of nothing during my four years there. I was always on the look-out for bamboo snakes, but apparently getting a bite off one of these is pretty unpleasant, so maybe it’s for the best I never encountered one.

      I’ll definitely be going on some night time nature walks when I’m back in January. I can’t wait!
      ☺☺☺

      Cheers,
      Paul

      • Hi Paul ,

        I’ll try again on the civet shot . Not a great shot , because after turning his head to look uphill at us , he turned tail and headed downhill by the time I snapped the shot . Still , you can make out the tail and back in the undergrowth . The bamboo snakes are actually fairly plentiful but mainly by the side of the road or in the immediately adjacent brush . Unlike cobras and rat snakes which will generally flee at your approach , bamboo snakes are endowed with an aggressive temperament and will often stand their ground and glare at you .

  20. We live near Matilda Hospital and we have seen a huge male wild boar three times now, once at the rubbish bins of the firestation, once trotting down the middle of Mount Kellett Road in broad daylight and again at the side of Mount Kellett Road just having a snuffle. He was completely unconcerned about and just ambled off into the bush. When we were driving up Magazine Gap Road some years ago a wild boar actually leaped over the car bonnet!

    Porcupines? Yes, three of them in a layby on Magazine Gap Road, two of them mating. The hills are alive for sure.

    • Fantastic! Hopefully he keeps safe.

      I’m heading back to Hong Kong for a few weeks in January. I can’t wait to go exploring. Hopefully I can get some photos this time.

      👍👍👍

  21. I rand into three porcupines on the Peak Morning trail, a porcupine on May Road by the tram station, a small boar on the Central Green Trail/Chatham Path and saw a large adult boar from my car on Stubbs Road near the Police Museum. There is quite a bit of wildlife still on the island.

    • That’s great news! Sounds like Hong Kong Island wildlife is in pretty good shape.

      I wish we could get some real spotters photos on here soon. I can’t wait to get back to HK and go out ‘hunting’. 😉

  22. I just saw two giant porcupines crossing the road in Shouson Hill and had to google it too! I didn’t know they existed in Hong Kong. I’m still pretty amazed and also couldn’t get a photo because I was too shocked.

    • Wow! Another. This is almost turning into the Hong Kong porcupine spotters community. (HKPSC) 😉

      Glad you too got lucky. I think we’re all just too amazed to remember to take any pics. If anyone manages to keep their cool and get some shots, feel free to post them here. I’m sure they will be preferable to my dodgy drawing.

  23. Hi there, i too chanced upon a porcupine while walking up the peak last night and was so intrigued by the whole encounter! had to google it today and am glad to find someone with the same (shocking) experience 🙂 i love your pictures btw! do you have an instagram account? i think you would have a huge following on instagram!

    • Hey, thanks for checking out the blog. Good to hear of someone else getting “porcupine-lucky”. They’re very cool creatures. I’m still on the look out for a bamboo snake. I’ll be planning a Hong Kong safari next time I’m back.

      As for Instagram, yes, I’m on there. But alas, huge would not be the adjective I’d use to describe the number of followers I have. Feel free to check out my pics though =>>>

      http://instagram.com/strippedpix/

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