Difference Between Porcupine and Hedgehog

The main difference between porcupine and hedgehog is that the porcupine is a large animal with long quills whereas the hedgehog is comparatively small and has shorter quills. Furthermore, the quills of porcupine detach from the body and stick into the predator when threatened while hedgehog curls up into a ball when threatened.

Porcupine and hedgehog are two types of prickly mammals, who have needle-like, sharp quills/spines on their body.

Key Areas covered

1. Porcupine
     – Definition, Characteristics, Behavior
2. Hedgehog
     – Definition, Characteristics, Behavior
3. What are the Similarities Between Porcupine and Hedgehog
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Porcupine and Hedgehog
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Hedgehog, Porcupine, Prickly Mammals, Quills

Difference Between Porcupine and Hedgehog - Comparison Summary

Difference Between Porcupine and Hedgehog – Side by Side Comparison

Porcupine – Definition, Characteristics, Behavior

Porcupine is a large, slow-moving rodent with long quills on their back. The two main types of porcupines are Old World Porcupines and New World Porcupines. The Old World Porcupines live in Europe, Africa, and Asia while the New World Porcupines live in North, South, and Central America. The African porcupines have spines around 11 inches long.

Difference Between Porcupine and Hedgehog

Figure 1: A Porcupine

The quills of the porcupine lie flat when dormant, but will rise when threatened. At the first stage, a porcupine will shake its quills to make rattles, warning the predator. At the second stage, it will detach the quills to stick into the predator. The scales or barbs of some quills are difficult to remove. The quills will grow back over time.

Hedgehog – Definition, Characteristics, Behavior

Hedgehog is a small, spiny mammal with a cone-shaped face. It has short legs and a stockier body. The quills of the hedgehog are made up of keratin and they will not easily detach from the body.

Main Difference - Porcupine and Hedgehog

Figure 2: A Hedgehog

One of the major behavioral features of hedgehogs is their movement through the hedges searching for insects, worms, snails, slugs, or even frogs and snakes. It usually burrows their nets. It searches for food at night. Hedgehogs have poor eyesight and it’s their sense of smell that helps them to find food. In cold climates, hedgehogs hibernate and in the drought, they sleep in a process called aestivation.

Similarities Between Porcupine and Hedgehog

  • Porcupine and hedgehog are two types of prickly mammals.
  • They have sharp, needle-like quills, which help them to escape from predators.
  • Both have tails.
  • They are native to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Difference Between Porcupine and Hedgehog


Porcupine refers to a large rodent with defensive spines or quills on the body and tail while hedgehog refers to a small nocturnal Old World mammal with a spiny coat and short legs, able to roll itself into a ball for defense.


Further, porcupine belongs to the order Eulipotyphla while hedgehog belongs to Rodentia.

Geographical Locations

Porcupine lives in North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia while hedgehog lives in Europe, Asia, and Africa.


Moreover, porcupine inhabits a wide range of habitats from forests, grasslands to deserts while hedgehog inhabits dry spots under hedges, bushes, rocks or buildings.


Looking at their features, a porcupine grows up to 20-36 inches and 15 kg in weight while a hedgehog grows up to 4-12 inches and 1 kg in weight.


Also, the porcupine has a rounded face while the hedgehog has a triangular face with snout, which is pig-like.


In addition, the porcupine has broad feet with long claws, which facilitates climbing while the hedgehog has small feet with minute claws in toes.  

Length of the Quills

Furthermore, the porcupine has quills about 2-3 inches long while the hedgehog has quills about a 1 inch long.

Number of Quills in the Body

Moreover, a porcupine has around 30,000 quills while a hedgehog has around 5, 000 quills.

Detaching of the Quills from the Body

Besides, the quills of porcupine easily detach from the body while hedgehog’s quills do not detach from the body.

Size of the Tail

Also, the porcupine’s tail can be 8-12 inches long while the hedgehog’s tail can be 2 inches long.

Defensive Behavior

Behaviorally, the porcupine detaches the quills of the tail in such a way that they stick into the predator while the hedgehog rolls up into a ball and his quills avoid the predatory attack.

Mode of Nutrition

Also, porcupines are herbivores, depending on fruits, leaves, buds, grass, bark and stems, while hedgehogs are carnivores, who depend on small snakes, frogs, slugs, insects, centipedes, worms, and snails.


Porcupine can survive up to 27 years while hedgehog can survive up to 2-7 years.


To summarize what we discussed above, the porcupine is a rodent with long quills while the hedgehog is a small creature with shorter quills. The quills of the porcupine are detachable while the quills of the hedgehog are undetectable. Therefore, a hedgehog rolls as a ball to avoid the predatory attack. The main difference between porcupine and hedgehog is the features of the quills.


1. Bradford, Alina. “Facts About Porcupines.” LiveScience, Purch, 30 Sept. 2016, Available Here
2. Bradford, Alina. “Hedgehog Facts.” LiveScience, Purch, 16 June 2015, Available here

Image Courtesy:

1. “Hedgehog Wild Spines Animal Porcupine Wildlife” (CC0) via Max Pixal
2. “hedgehog-erinaceinae-mammal-2501913” (CC0) via pixabay

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

Leave a Reply