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Hedgehog Vs Groundhog (11 Differences)

Even though hedgehogs and groundhogs both have “hog” in their name, these animals aren’t actually related. Hedgehogs are part of an animal family called erinaceidae, while groundhogs are rodents. Both animals are omnivores, and they both can hibernate, but ultimately, they’re more different than they are alike.

Hedgehog Vs Groundhog – 11 Differences

Hedgehogs are small creatures with long snouts and bodies covered in spikes called quills. Groundhogs are stocky, furry animals that have curved claws and bushy tails. Read on to find out more about these mammals and the many things that make them different.

1. Hedgehogs Are Much Smaller

Four-toed Hedgehog
Four-toed Hedgehogs | image by shankar s. via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

A groundhog is usually around 16 to 20 inches long and weighs between 5 and 10 pounds. In comparison, hedgehogs are much tinier, measuring between 4 and 12 inches and typically weighing just 1 to 2 pounds. A groundhog’s tail can be anywhere from 7 to 9.75 inches long, but the tail of a hedgehog is less than an inch long!

Groundhogs also have larger paws than hedgehogs do. A groundhog has long, flexible fingers that can grasp objects and sharp claws that they can use to dig. Hedgehogs have much smaller paws that are made for walking and running.

2. Groundhogs Can Only Be Found In North America

Groundhogs on hill’s cliff
Groundhogs on hill’s cliff | image by Timo Niedermann via pexels

Hedgehogs can no longer be found in the wild in North America, but they can be found in many other parts of the world. Today, there are hedgehogs in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. While hedgehogs aren’t native to New Zealand, they have been introduced there and can be found in the wild.

Unlike hedgehogs, groundhogs can’t be found across the globe. They can only be found on one continent: North America. Wild groundhogs can be found in many parts of Canada and throughout the United States.

You can even find groundhogs in Alaska!

3. There Are Many Types of Hedgehogs

Amur Hedgehog on the table
Amur Hedgehog on the table | image by Mike Finn via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

All groundhogs are a part of the same species. While there may be only one type of groundhog, there are 17 different hedgehog species living today! These species include the Amur hedgehog, a light-colored hedgehog that is native to China, Korea, and Russia, and the four-toed hedgehog, a type of hedgehog that’s sometimes called a pet.

The largest hedgehog species is the European hedgehog, which measures between 9 and 14.5 inches and can weigh up to 4.5 pounds! African pygmy hedgehogs are the smallest species, measuring anywhere from 6 to 8 inches and weighing around 1 pound on average.

4. Groundhogs Live Underground

Groundhog out of his hole
Groundhog out of his hole | image by wombat434 via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

One major difference between groundhogs and hedgehogs is the homes that they live in! Hedgehogs use grass, leaves, twigs, and other materials to build nests above the ground. Before the winter, hedgehogs insulate their nests so that they have protection from the cold while they hibernate.

Groundhogs, however, make their home in burrows beneath the ground! Young groundhogs start building their own burrows when they’re just a few months old. Groundhogs only live together when they’re mating or raising young, which means the typical groundhog has an entire burrow to itself!

5. Hedgehogs Have Bad Eyesight

Hedgehog staring at camera
Hedgehog staring at camera | image by Mrs Airwolfhound via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Even though groundhogs spend a lot of time underground, they have very good vision. Groundhogs can see up to 300 yards away and are able to see colors. While groundhogs rely on their eyesight, they also have sharp hearing and a strong sense of smell.

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Hedgehogs aren’t blind, but they have very weak eyesight and poor depth perception. This means that they have to rely on their senses of smell and hearing to hunt and sense threats around them. Hedgehogs also have very sensitive whiskers that can detect movements in the air around them.

6. Only Some Hedgehogs Hibernate

Hedgehog hibernating
Hedgehog hibernating | image by Jamain via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

When the weather is warm, groundhogs build up stores of fat to prepare for hibernation. A groundhog will usually go into hibernation around October or November and come out of hibernation in February or March. When a groundhog is hibernating, its heartbeat can slow down to just 4 or 5 beats a minute!

Hedgehogs can go into hibernation as well, but it’s not something that all hedgehogs do. If a hedgehog lives in a warmer climate, it may stay active all year! In colder climates, hedgehogs do hibernate in the winter, but they may still move to a new nest during this period.

7. Hedgehogs Are Covered In Spikes

Hedgehog on the grass
Hedgehog on the grass | image by Karen Roe via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

One of the most noticeable differences between hedgehogs and groundhogs has to do with their appearance. Unlike groundhogs, a hedgehog’s back is covered in a layer of spikes known as quills.

A hedgehog can roll into a ball and use its spikes to protect itself from predators.  Since hedgehogs have very soft stomach, this defensive position helps keep them safe from threats.

8. Groundhogs Have Bigger Teeth

Groundhog showing his teeth
Groundhog showing his teeth | image by Dawn Scranton via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Hedgehog teeth are tiny, just like hedgehogs are. Groundhog teeth, however, can be quite large. Hedgehogs can have between 34 and 44 teeth, while groundhogs have 18 smaller teeth for chewing and 4 larger incisors.

These incisors constantly grow throughout a groundhog’s life and can grow as much as 1/16″ in a single week! Usually, these teeth are worn down when a groundhog gnaws on food or when they grind against each other, which keeps them from growing out of control. Typically, a groundhog’s front teeth are around 4″ long.

9. A Hedgehog Can Use Poison and Venom

Hedgehog in nature
Hedgehog in nature | image by Jüri T via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Neither groundhogs nor hedgehogs are poisonous, but hedgehogs can use venom in interesting ways. Hedgehogs are immune to many types of venom, including snake venom and some poisonous plants. In the wild, hedgehogs sometimes take venom from other animals, like toads, and apply the poison to their spines!

Even though hedgehogs are able to use poison to their advantage, they’re not dangerous to humans. With that said, it’s always best to wear gloves before handling a hedgehog. Hedgehogs and groundhogs can both be carriers for fleas, ticks, and ringworm and can also spread bacteria.

10. Hedgehogs Are Nocturnal

Hedgehog at night
Hedgehog at night | image by Peter Trimming via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

In the wild, hedgehogs spend their days sleeping and are only active at night. Since hedgehogs have weak eyesight and rely on their other senses, it isn’t hard for them to find food in the dark! Sleeping during the day also allows hedgehogs to avoid the hot sun and keeps them safe from predators.

Groundhogs, on the other hand, are diurnal, which means they’re mostly active during the day. They tend to be the most active in the early morning and early evening hours. Since groundhogs are true hibernators, they aren’t active at all in the winter and sleep from day to night.

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11. Groundhogs Are Faster

Groundhog on the grass
Groundhog on the grass | image by USFWS Midwest Region via Flickr

While groundhogs aren’t known for moving quickly, they can pick up the pace when they’re in danger. A groundhog can travel at speeds of up to 9.94 MPH. Groundhogs can also swim and climb trees when they want to get away from threats.

Hedgehogs spend most of their time on the ground, but like groundhogs, they can also swim and climb when they need to. They can run in short bursts, but because of their small size, they’re a lot slower than groundhogs are. Although they can reach speeds of up to 4 miles per hour, they can’t run that fast for very long.

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