Difference Between Porcupine and Hedgehog


Main Difference

The main difference between Porcupine and Hedgehog is that Porcupine is a rodent with a covering of piercing spine, whereas Hedgehog is a tiny spiny mammal.

Porcupine vs. Hedgehog

Porcupines are larger, and are twice the size of hedgehogs, growing 25 to 36 inches long. Hedgehogs are smaller in size than porcupines ranging from 5 to 12 inches. Generally, porcupines weigh about 12 to 35 pounds, whereas the average weight of a hedgehog is ranging between less than 1 and 2.5 pounds.

Porcupines have round-shaped faces, whereas hedgehogs possess small, triangular-shaped faces. Porcupines have broad paw-like feet. Conversely, hedgehogs have petite feet. Porcupines consist of long protruding claws. On the flip side, hedgehogs have tiny articulated tows and claws that help them in climbing trees.


Porcupines live in North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. On the other hand, hedgehogs reside in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Porcupines can be found variably in various landscapes, including forests, grasslands, and deserts. In contrast, hedgehogs make their homes in dry locations like rocks, buildings, or under hedges or bushes.

Porcupines are covered with long, resonating quills, which remain flat when inactive but turns into a shielding position when vulnerable. On the other hand, hedgehogs are covered by short thick spines, which are attached to the skin and are specified for its defensive mechanism.

When a porcupine is endangered, its quills dislodge off the porcupine and stuck into the assaulting animal. Conversely, when a hedgehog is endangered, it rolls into a tight ball, and their spines are protruded into the offending animal. Porcupines cannot be kept as pet animals, but hedgehogs can be raised as pet animals.


Comparison Chart

Porcupine is a herbivorous animal with sharp spines.Hedgehog is a trivial carnivorous mammal with piercing spines.
25-36 inches long5-12 inches long
12-35 pounds1-2.5 pounds
Face Shape
Round faceSmall triangular face
Feet Shape
Broad paw-like feetPetite feet
Toes and Claws
Long protruding toes and clawsTiny articulated toes and claws
North and South America, Africa, Europe, and AsiaEurope, Asia, and Africa
Landscapes, forests, grasslands, desertsDry spots under hedges and bushes, rocks, buildings
Covered With
Long hollow quillsShort thick spines
Attack Response
Forces its sharp quills covered with barbs into the assaulting animalRolls into a tight ball resulting in sharp spines piercing the offending animal
Cannot be raised as a petCan be raised as a pet

What is Porcupine?

Porcupines are defined as rodents with a covering of sharp spines or quills outer to their skin that protect them against predators. Porcupine has black to brownish-yellow fur and round body. Porcupine has powerful little legs and hairless soles on its extensive paw-like feet that assist them in mounting trees.

The most distinguishing characteristic of porcupine is in its quills. It may contain more than 30,000 quills. The quills are simply hairs covered with barbs that make them more stingy and painful for predators. Quills of a porcupine are compact at base and tips but usually resonating and hollow for most of the channel.

A porcupine is covered by quills all over its body except the stomach part. The quills longest in length are present on its rump, whereas the quills of shortest length are present on its cheeks. A porcupine has its defensive mechanism maintained by its quills. They are not aggressive animals, but they become offended when attacked by other animals.

In inactive or dormant form, the quills remain flat and at ease, whereas they are raised into a defensive posture when porcupines are threatened. If the offending animal comes near the porcupine, its quills dislodge off and are stuck into the offending animal.

These quills have very piercing tips that are covered with barbs that make them more painful and challenging to be removed from an animal’s skin. If an animal is being pierced by quills at some vital part, it may result in the death of the animal.

What is Hedgehog?

Hedgehogs are distinguished easily by their characteristic spine, which is made up of keratin and covered by hollow hairs. The spines of the hedgehog cannot be detached from them quickly. The only condition when spines of hedgehogs dislodge is extreme stress conditions or severe disease of hedgehogs.

The spines of hedgehogs are neither poisonous nor covered with barb. The color of the hedgehogs is usually brown with pale tips of the spines. The sharp piercing spines of hedgehogs usually remain flat but are turned into protective posture when they are endangered.

When an offending animal comes closer to hedgehogs, they roll themselves into a tight ball with their hands, feet, and faces tucked away, and all their spines are protruded outward. The position of quills or spines is controlled by two large muscles on the back of the hedgehog.

The effectiveness of the rolling strategy as a defensive mechanism depends upon the number of spines. The lightweight hedgehogs of the desert are more likely to attack other animals by their spines. Various hedgehogs prey various animals, i.e., forest hedgehogs prey birds, especially the owl, and long-eared hedgehogs prey foxes, wolves, and mongooses.

Hedgehogs are usually nocturnal, which means they are active during the night, but some species of hedgehogs may also be active during the day. Hedgehogs sleep for a long time under bushes, grasses, or rocks, etc. during the day. They can also hibernate depending upon the temperature, species, and availability of food.

Key Differences

  1. Porcupines are generally rodents, whereas hedgehogs are small spiny mammals.
  2. Porcupines are herbivorous, which means they live on plants. On the other hand, hedgehogs are carnivorous, which means they live on other animals.
  3. Porcupines are 25 to 36 inches long, which is twice the size of a hedgehog. On the contrary, the length of hedgehogs varies between 5 to 12 inches.
  4. The weight of a porcupine is generally 12 to 35 pounds, whereas the weight of a hedgehog is generally between 1 and 2.5 pounds that means hedgehogs are much lighter than porcupines.
  5. Porcupines have round faces. In contrast, hedgehogs carry tiny triangular faces.
  6. Porcupines consist of large paw-like feet, whereas hedgehogs consist of petite feet.
  7. Porcupines possess long protruding claws that help them in climbing trees. On the flip side, hedgehogs possess tiny articulated toes and claws.
  8. Porcupines belong to North and South America as well as Asia and Africa. In contrast, hedgehogs reside in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
  9. Porcupines are not nocturnal, which refers to their activeness during day or night. On the other hand, hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means they are active only during the night.
  10. Porcupines inhabit a variety of landscapes, forests, grasslands, and deserts. Conversely, hedgehogs populate dry spots beneath wilds, verges, rocks, or constructions.
  11. Porcupines have sharp quills with their ends covered with barbs that make them more painful. On the contrary, hedgehogs have sharp piercing spines instead of quills, and they are not covered or poisoned with barb.
  12. When attacked, porcupines dislodges its sharp quills and penetrate them into the offending animal. On the flip side, when hedgehogs are attacked, they turn themselves into a roll, pointing their sharp spines outward.


Porcupines are herbivorous rodents having sharp quills and aggressive defense mechanisms. Conversely, hedgehogs are small carnivorous mammals having piercing spines as their defense.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson