July 23, 2010 07:00 PM

Snickers the porcupine is having an identity crisis.

He chases his tail, rolls on his back and jumps up and down – just like a puppy!

A four-year resident at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, this 6-year-old North American porcupine acts just like a canine. This may have something to do with his upbringing: Before Snickers came to the center, he was someone’s pet. His previous owners even let the creature, who has 30,000 sharp quills underneath his top coat of hair, snuggle in bed!

“He’s extremely friendly,” Kristen Peterson, a naturalist at the conservation center, tells PEOPLEPets.com. “With his upbringing, he really just doesn’t have natural defense mechanisms. I don’t think he’d have much of a chance to survive in the wild – you really shouldn’t be able to pet a porcupine.”

For this reason, Snickers will probably never be released back into the wilderness. In exchange for a home at the center, Snickers is used for educational purposes, such as teaching local students about wildlife care.

And the staff doesn’t mind taking care of him – which includes feeding him goodies like peaches and corn on the cob – because he shows his appreciation.

“He’s just always so excited to see you,” she says. “You really do feel more of a connection with him.”

Staff at the center nicknamed the pup-like porcupine “Stinkers” because, erm, his odor isn’t quite as pleasant as his personality! In a Youtube video of the critter in action (above), which has hit more than 700,000 views, he snacks on an apple (no dog treats!) as he begs his handler for attention.

But beware: Just because he acts like a dog doesn’t mean he feels like a dog. Although his top coat is soft, Peterson points out that he has more than 30,000 sharp quills underneath his hair, which are a defense mechanism. And, although it’s safe to pet him sans gloves when he doesn’t feel threatened, this cutie could prick at a moment’s notice if he’s startled or uncomfortable.

So, let’s hope Snickers stays sweet with plenty of peaches!

See more unusual animals on PEOPLEPets.com:
Funny Video: A Ticklish Slow Loris
So a Hedgehog Walks into a Garden with a Broken Leg …

You May Like

EDIT POST