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Hedgehog Vs Porcupine (10 Differences)

There are a lot of debates out there on the internet. Cats vs dogs. Star Wars vs Star Trek. But one of the most heated debates is hedgehog vs porcupine.

They may look similar, but these two animals have some very distinct differences. This article will explore the differences between these two animals to help you differentiate them:

Hedgehog Vs Porcupine

What Are Hedgehogs?

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

Scientific Name: Erinaceinae

Hedgehogs are small, spiny mammals found in Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are nocturnal creatures, often active at night and sleeping during the day. Hedgehogs have a wide variety of predators, including foxes, weasels, and birds of prey.

As a result, they have developed a number of adaptations to help them survive. For example, their spines act as a form of defence and camouflage.

When threatened, hedgehogs will roll up into a tight ball, presenting their spines to would-be predators. The spines also make it difficult for predators to pick up hedgehogs, as they become stuck in the animal’s fur. In addition to their physical defences, hedgehogs also produce a noxious odour that deters many predators.

What Are Porcupines?

Porcupine
Porcupine preparing for attack | Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Erethizontidae

Porcupines are small to medium-sized rodents with bodies covered in sharp quills. There are two main types of porcupines: Old World porcupines, which are found in Africa and Asia, and New World porcupines, which are found in North and South America. Porcupines typically grow to be between 25 and 36 inches long, weighing anywhere from 10 to 35 pounds.

Although primarily herbivorous, porcupines sometimes eat small animals, eggs, or carrion. Porcupines use their quills for defense, and they will shake their quills to warn predators that they are not to be trifled with. When threatened, a porcupine may also lash out with its powerful tail, which is also covered in quills.

Hedgehog Vs Porcupine: 10 Differences

 PorcupineHedgehog
Body LengthTheir body length is 25-36 inches from head to tail.Body length from head to tail: 4 to 12 inches
WeightHeavier than hedgehogs with a body weight of 10 to 35 poundsLighter than porcupines weighing between 5 to 56 ounces
Length of the Quill2-3 inchesApproximately 1 inch
Number of Quills30,000 quills5,000 quills
Animal’s LifespanThey can live up to 27 yearsThey have a shorter lifespan, between 3 to 8 years
DietHerbivores, eats leaves, shoots, nuts, fruits and even tree barks.Insectivores feed mainly on small invertebrates, worms, snails, and insects.

They also eat some plant matter.
PredatorsOwls, FerretsCoyotes and fisher cats
Defensive StanceSticks the quills at the predators,Rolls into a ball
Place of OriginNorth and South America, as well as Alaska and Canada.Native to Europe, Asia and Africa.

1. Size

Porcupines and hedgehogs are often lumped together, but these two animals have a few key differences. One of the most noticeable is their size. Porcupines are much larger than hedgehogs, with some species growing to over 36 inches in length.

Hedgehogs, on the other hand, are usually only around 12 inches long. This difference in size can be attributed to their different diets and habitats.

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Porcupines are primarily herbivorous, so they need to consume large quantities of vegetation. This is why they are found in forested areas where plants are abundant. Hedgehogs, on the other hand, are primarily insectivorous.

As a result, they do not need to eat as much and can get by in smaller areas. Another difference in size is that hedgehogs have much shorter legs than porcupines. This gives them a more compact appearance and allows them to move quickly when necessary.

2. Range

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

Hedgehogs are native to Europe, Africa, and Asia, while porcupines are found in North and South America, Canada, and Alaska. Other species of hedgehogs are also found in New Zealand and Australia.

3. Coat

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

Another key difference between hedgehogs and porcupines is their coat. Hedgehogs have short, stiff spines that cover their back and sides. These spines are made of keratin, the same material that makes up human fingernails.

Porcupines have longer, sharper quills that cover their entire body. These quills are modified hairs filled with a hollow shaft of keratin.

The quills are barbed at the tips, which makes them difficult to remove once they have embedded themselves in an attacker. These quills also serve different purposes: porcupine quills are used primarily for defense, while hedgehog quills help the animal camouflage itself from predators.

4. Habitat

Although hedgehogs and porcupines are found on different continents, they share some similarities in their habitat. Both hedgehogs and porcupines are mostly nocturnal animals, meaning they are most active at night.

This is likely because both hedgehogs and porcupines are preyed upon by a variety of predators, including foxes, weasels, and birds of prey. As a result, hedgehogs and porcupines have developed a number of adaptations to help them survive.

5. Diet

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

Porcupines are mostly herbivorous, feeding on a variety of plant life. They are especially fond of tender shoots and leaves, but they will also eat bark, nuts, and fruits. In contrast, hedgehogs are mostly insectivorous, feeding on insects, worms, and snails.

However, they will also eat other small invertebrates and some plant matter. While both porcupines and hedgehogs have different diets, they have one thing in common: both species use their sharp teeth to strip away the bark or exoskeleton of their prey before consuming it.

6. Weight

Porcupines are larger than hedgehogs. Their body weights are also heavier than hedgehogs, weighing anywhere from 10 to 35 pounds.

On the other hand, hedgehogs typically weigh between 5 to 56 ounces, with the average hedgehog weighing about 12 ounces.

7. Breeding

Porcupines and hedgehogs also differ in their breeding habits. Porcupines are polygynous, meaning that males will mate with multiple females. This is likely because porcupines have a high mortality rate, so males must mate with as many females as possible to ensure their genes are passed on.

Hedgehogs, however, are monogamous, and the males will only mate with one female. This is likely because hedgehogs have a lower mortality rate, and females can produce more offspring when they mate with just one male.

8. Defense Mechanism

Porcupine spreading its quills
Porcupine spreading its quills | Image by Tom from Pixabay

While it’s true that both animals use their quills to defend themselves against predators, the difference between them comes in how they do it.

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When threatened by a predator, hedgehogs curl up into a ball, burying their heads and vulnerable underside. The quills on their backs will stand up, making it difficult for predators to bite or grab hold of the animal.

On the other hand, when a porcupine feels threatened, it will tilt its back and push out the quills, pointing them towards the attacker. Porcupines also wave their tails at the attacker to try and prick them with their quilts.

9. The Number of Quills

In recent years, scientists and biologists have closely studied both animals to examine the number and length of their quills. A stud revealed that porcupines have larger and more quills than hedgehogs. A hedgehog only has around 5,000 quills, while porcupine spots over 30,000.

10. Predators

Hedgehogs are preyed upon by many different animals, including weasels, wolves, foxes, snakes, mongooses, and birds of prey. Porcupines can preyed upon by a variety of predators, such as coyotes, bobcats, and great-horned owls… especially when they are young.

However, an adult porcupine has better defenses against these predators and makes a more formidable prey. A full grown porcupine can easily fend off an adult jaguar in most cases.

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