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Porcupine Quill Removal

Views: 9977 - Comments: 5

Katherine Earl, DVM, discusses the removal of porcupine quills, treatment and pain control.

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Katherine Earl's picture
Katherine Earl


Enrolled: 08/2011

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Ryley Scott's picture

Great video, I just wish it was longer and that we could see after the quills were removed!

Jonah York's picture

My understanding is that clipping the quills (i.e. cutting them in ~half) is also helpful, both for ease of removal and reduction in trauma. Can anyone confirm or deny?

Beth Ann Fretz's picture

Hi Jonah,
I talked to Dr. Earl and she has not heard of clipping the quills in half and doesn't believe that it would decrease trauma; as the trauma occurs with the removal of the embedded quill which would not be affected by quill length at time of removal. It's also probably easier to remove with more surface area to grip in addition to increased efficiency by just removing the quill and not having to cut it first (since sometimes you are removing upwards of a thousand quills). Good question!

Candelyn Carpenter's picture

I also wish that it could have been longer. I feel if the actual removal could have been seen it would have been more informative. In every episode that I have ever viewed I have always seen the vet wiggle back and forth, reason being it was stated that on the "other end were tiny teeny tiny little barbs and if you come direct up in a line movement you risk tearing the skin." Thank you Candelyn

Chelsea Lincoln's picture

Hi Candelyn,

Thank you for reaching out! I checked with Dr. Michael about why we recommend porcupine quills be pulled straight out. She says the quills are in fact barbed, but the barbs tend to soften slightly after becoming embedded in the skin. Since the barbs are so small and soften, the safer strategy is to pull them straight out to reduce the chances that the quill will break. Wiggling them back and forth puts stress on the quill and weakens it, making it much more likely for the quill to fracture, which increases the risks of migrating quills after the fact.