‘Stick’ of Life for Porcupine

It took a really sharp vet to bring this young porcupine back from the brink of death.

Percy, who’s in training to make his debut with the Big Apple Circus in the fall — he can already open a prop door with his mouth — was found collapsed in his pen behind the circus tent at Lincoln Center on Monday.

“He would have been dead within a matter of hours,” said Dr. David Bessler, senior emergency clinician at NYC Veterinary Specialists at 410 West 55th Street where the rodent was rushed.

Watch video here: Manhattan vet saves porcupine’s life.

Percy was diagnosed with low blood sugar after the vet solved a prickly problem—the quills located everywhere on the 4-year-old, which were especially sharp on its back.

“It took a few minutes to figure out how to approach him,” Bessler said. “Each quill could literally poke through a person.”

They found a solution.”We rigged one of those lampshade collars you put on a dog’s head so they can’t bite themselves,” he said. “We put one of those around his waist to shield us from his back quills.”

They also couldn’t insert an intravenous catheter into Percy’s vein to draw blood and administer medicine because his very bumpy skin made it hard to find a vein.

“We put in a special kind of catheter called an intraosseous that you drill into the bone with a power drill. We got some bone marrow to do some testing and we found his blood sugar was low,” Bessler said.

“We gave him dextrose and lots of intravenous fluids and he slowly started to come to life,” the vet said. Within 24 hours Percy was ambling around the hospital noshing on sweet potatoes and “scaring the hell out of everybody. If you came near, he would turn his back to you and lift his back quills,” the vet said.

Bessler couldn’t determine the underlying cause of the hypoglycemia because they couldn’t get enough blood to do a full battery of tests – but the prognosis is excellent as long as ‘’it was a one-time deal without any continuing underlying cause .”

Yesterday, Percy was at the circus sitting in the lap of his trainer, Jenny Vidbel, 35, who was grateful to Bessler for performing ‘’a miracle.”

If the affectionate porcupine, who “loves having his belly and neck rubbed,” were in the wild “he would have to use his quills to protect himself” from predators,” said Vidbel.. But he knows she loves him.

“I got him when he was a little baby, so he’s just like my kid,’’ she said.

This story was originally posted in the NY Post on January 8, 2010.