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Hedgehog vs. Porcupine: What Are the Differences?

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The main difference between hedgehogs and porcupines is their quills. Porcupines have longer quills, as they can reach up to a foot long. Porcupines also have six times as many quills, upwards of 30,000, while hedgehogs have about 5,000.

Do you know the difference between a hedgehog and a porcupine?

Some people might say they’re basically the same, but there are some key differences.

In this blog post, we’ll compare and contrast hedgehogs and porcupines to help you understand the distinction.

Hedgehog vs. Porcupine: An Overview

You can tell hedgehogs and porcupines apart by looking at their quills. Porcupines have long quills, while hedgehogs have short quills. Porcupines also have a lot more of them.

Hedgehogs and porcupines have a lot in common. They’re both small, spiny mammals, and they’re both found in similar habitats all over the world. 

Despite their similarities, there are also some big differences between hedgehogs and porcupines.

TraitHedgehogPorcupine
Scientific ClassificationErinaceinaeErethizontidae
AppearanceWhite to brown with black coloration variety.Black to brownish.
BehaviorSolitary creatures.Social creatures.
Size9 to 12 inches33 to 46 inches
DietInvertebrates such as insects, worms, and slugs.Evergreen needles and inner bark of trees.
HabitatWoodland hedges, suburban habitats, hedgerows.Coniferous and mixed forests.
Lifespan2-5 years10-15 years

Differences Between Hedgehogs and Porcupines

Hedgehogs and porcupines are both spiny animals, but they belong to different families. Hedgehogs are Old World animals that belong to the Erinaceidae family, while porcupines are New World rodents that belong to the Erethizontidae family.[2]

There are several differences between these two animals, including their:

  • Appearance
  • Size
  • Diet
  • Habitat
  • Social behavior

Porcupine vs. Hedgehog: Size and Appearance

Hedgehogs are much smaller than porcupines. An adult hedgehog typically weighs less than a pound, while an adult porcupine can weigh up to 27 pounds.[1] 

TraitHedgehogPorcupine
Size7.87-11.8 inches25 to 36 inches
Weight1-2 lbs20 lbs
Number of quills5,00030,000
Quills length1 inch2-3 inches

Porcupines are larger than hedgehogs. The average size is between 25 to 36 inches, with some species growing to over four feet in length. They often weigh upwards of 20 pounds.

Hedgehogs, on the other hand, are typically only around 7.87 inches to 11.8 inches long. They weigh an average of one to two pounds.

Porcupines are black and brownish, while hedgehogs’ colors vary from black to white.

Porcupine vs. Hedgehog Size and Appearance

Porcupines also have much longer and thicker spines (quills) than hedgehogs. Porcupine quills can reach up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, with an average of 2-3 inches, while hedgehog quills reach about 1 inch in length. 

Although porcupine spines are not as sharp as those of a hedgehog, they can still cause injury if they are handled roughly.

As for the number of quills, porcupines have a lot more than hedgehogs. Porcupines have upwards of 30,000 quills, while hedgehogs have 5,000.

Hedgehog vs. Porcupine: Diet

Another big difference between these two animals is their diet. 

Hedgehogs are mostly carnivorous, meaning hedgehogs eat insects and other small animals

Porcupines, on the other hand, are primarily herbivorous, meaning they eat mostly plants.

Pet Hedgehogs Need a Balanced Diet

Hedgehog vs. Porcupine: Habitat

Hedgehogs live in woodland hedges, suburban habitats, and hedgerows. Porcupines live in Coniferous and mixed forests. While hedgehogs can be found both in America, Europe, and Asia, porcupines are mostly found in North and South America.

Hedgehog vs. Porcupine: Social Behavior

Hedgehogs are generally solitary animals, while porcupines often live in groups. 

This means that hedgehogs don’t interact with other hedgehogs very much, while porcupines are often seen interacting with each other in their social groups.

Similarities Between Hedgehogs and Porcupines

The hedgehog and the porcupine are both rodents. They are often confused with one another as they look similar. Both animals have quills or spines that cover their bodies and can be used as a form of self-defense.

Hedgehogs are small animals with short, stiff spines covering their backs and sides. These spines are modified hairs that are very sharp. Hedgehogs use their spines as a defense against predators. 

When a hedgehog feels threatened, it will curl up into a tight ball so that the spines point out in all directions. This makes it difficult for predators to attack the hedgehog without getting hurt.

Porcupines are much larger than hedgehogs and have longer, thicker spines. Porcupine spines are hollow and reach up to 4 inches (1 cm) long. They are not as sharp as those of a hedgehog, but can still cause injury if handled roughly.

Porcupines also use their spines as a defense against predators. When a porcupine feels threatened, it will raise its quills so that they point outwards. 

Their quills aren’t stiff all the way through. This makes it easier for the rodent to move around.

Similarities Between Hedgehogs and Porcupines

Hedgehog Spines vs. Porcupine Quills

There are two main types of quills – those from hedgehogs and those from porcupines. Both have their own unique characteristics, and there are several key differences between them.

The main differences between hedgehogs’ and porcupines’ quills are:

  • Number of quills
  • Size
  • Stiffness
  • Thickness
  • Use

Hedgehog spines are modified hair follicles. They’re hollow and sharp. Each quill has a barbed tip, which makes them difficult to remove once they’ve embedded themselves in something. 

Porcupine quills are also hollow. They’re much thicker and not as sharp as hedgehog quills. Contrary to the hedgehog’s quills, they easily detach. Their quills grow back after detaching.

Hedgehog Spines vs. Porcupine Quills

Porcupines have around 30,000 quills, while hedgehogs only have about 5,000 spines[3]. Porcupine quills are also much longer – up to twenty inches. Hedgehog quills are only about an inch long.

One of the biggest differences between a hedgehog and porcupine quills is that porcupines can “shoot” their quills at predators. The quills have a muscle attachment that allows them to be ejected with considerable force. 

Hedgehog quills, on the other hand, are not attached to muscles and cannot be projected in this way.

When a porcupine quill embeds itself in something, the barbed tip points backward. This makes it difficult to remove without causing further injury. Hedgehog quills, on the other hand, have a barbed tip that points forwards. This makes them easier to remove, but they can still be painful.

If you’re ever unfortunate enough to come into contact with either type of quill, the best thing to do is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Trying to remove the quills yourself can often do more harm than good.

Conclusion

Hedgehogs and porcupines are different creatures. Porcupines have sharp quills on their back that they use to protect themselves from predators. Hedgehogs, on the other hand, roll into a ball so that their spines stick out in all directions, deterring any would-be attackers.

While both animals have spikes, these defenses serve very different purposes. The two animals have slightly different diets and live in different habitats. 

FAQs

Is a Hedgehog the Same as a Porcupine?

No, a hedgehog is not the same as a porcupine. Hedgehogs are small, spiny mammals found in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Porcupines are large, rodents with quills all over their body found in North and South America. Although both animals are covered in quills or spines, they are not related.

Does a Hedgehog Have Spines or Quills?

Hedgehogs have sharp spines, not quills, but they are often referred to as quills anyways. These are located on their backs and sides that they use for defense. These spines are made of keratin, the same material that makes up human hair and nails.

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The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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