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8 Types of Animals With Quills (Pictures)

Animals with quills are fascinating due to their uniqueness from other animals, and the many different uses of these quills. While quills are mostly used for self-defense, some animals use their quills in order to move! In this article, we will go into depth on how each of the above animals uses their quills and even cover some fun facts about them!


8 Animals with Quills

Some of the most common known animals with quills include the North American porcupine, old world porcupine, African crested porcupine, hedgehogs, echnida, thorny devil lizard, pufferfish, and sea urchins.

Let’s have a closer look at them.

1. North American Porcupine

North America porcupine in a tree | image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region via Flickr

The North American porcupine has over 30,000 quills in its body! The only locations that this porcupine does not have quills on its body include its underbelly, face, and feet. The quills have barbs in them that are painful and hard to remove.

The North American porcupine has two uses for its quills. The quills are typically flattened against its body. However, when the porcupine feels threatened it will contract muscles that cause their quills to stand up in defense. They will then swipe their tails at attackers in an attempt to lodge the barbs in their attackers. Additionally, the quills serve as a way to insulate their bodies in the winter.

2. Old World Porcupine

old world porcupine | image by Udo Schröter via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The old word porcupine uses its quills much like the North American porcupine. However, there are a few differences between the two species’ quills. The old world porcupine has its quills embedded in clusters or bunches. Alternatively, the North American porcupine has single quills mixed with hair and bristles.

The old word porcupines quill is a massive 13.7 inches long. Compared to the North American porcupines 2.7-inch quills. Their quills are extremely sharp and have been known to injure even the largest of animals such as lions.

3. African Crested Porcupine

African crested porcupine | image by c w via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The African crested porcupine looks very similar to the old world porcupine and has quills of varying thickness that are 12 to 13 inches in length. Its quills are most concentrated in the back of its body.

When confronted by a predator the African crested porcupine attempts to ward it off by clicking its teeth and rattling its quills. If this fails, it rams the attacker will the quills on the backside of its body. The tips of the quills become dislodged and have been known to disable and even kill larger animals.

4. Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs have between 3,000 and 5,000 quills. The quills cover their entire backside, but their underside is soft. Like the porcupine, the hedgehog’s quills lay flat most of the time. Unlike porcupines, they do not have barbs.

When a hedgehog feels threatened its quills will stand up and it will roll into a ball in order to protect its exposed underside. Hedgehogs will also sleep in this position in order to protect themselves from surprise predators.

5. Echnida

image: patrickkavanagh | Flickr | CC 2.0

Echnida, also known as spiny anteaters, is one of two living mammals that lay eggs. They eat mostly ants and termites and live in Australia and New Guinea. Additionally, their backs are covered in quills.

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Echnida is an extremely timid creature and is frightened of most things. They act like hedgehogs in that they curl up in a ball when they feel threatened to protect themselves. However, they have extremely powerful front legs that allow them to dig quickly. Therefore, their quills protect them as they attempt to dig to safety.

6. Thorny Devil Lizard

Thorny devil

The thorny devil is a species of lizard that lives in the deserts of Australia. They mostly feed on ants. They have protective spikes all over their bodies and these spikes serve two purposes. The first is as a deterrent. The spikes keep birds from swooping in and eating them for dinner.

The second use of their spikes is as a tool. The desert is a dry and hot climate with water sources often being scarce. When dew gathers on the thorny devil lizard’s spikes at night it runs along their spine and into their mouth to give them a unique water source.

7. Pufferfish

pufferfish all puffed up

When you think of animals with quills your first thought usually isn’t aquatic animals. However, the pufferfish is famous for ballooning up and extending its spikes to deter predators. The pufferfish expands its body and spikes to make itself look bigger than its prey. They can expand to three times their size by taking in air and water.

Unfortunately, the pufferfish cannot move when it’s in a “balloon-like” state and therefore cannot evade predators. Therefore, if the predator decides to attach the end result is typical that both fish end up dying.

8. Sea Urchin

Another aquatic animal with quills is the sea urchin. Their spines extend out of their body as a deterrent to predators. Some species of sea urchins are actually venomous and are dangerous to humans and animals alike.

Sea urchins don’t just use their spines for protection, but they also use them for movement. The longer spines are there for protection, but they also have shorter, thick spines that dig in the sand and allow them to move.