You might get confused between a hedgehog and porcupine due to their similar appearance. But are the two related?
No, Hedgehogs and Porcupines are not related. The two belong to different species that have evolved to develop some common reactions to environmental threats.
What Are Hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs are small-sized carnivorous mammals measuring between 6-12 inches in length. People often recognize them with the hard, sharpened spikes or spines that are present on their backs. They use these as a defense mechanism to deter predators.
When a hedgehog feels threatened, they’ll roll their body into a small ball, hiding their body parts while exposing the sharp, pointy exterior. They are occasionally spotted in gardens and are now being kept as pets. However, the prime habitat of these solitary animals is still the wild.
What Are Porcupines?
Porcupines are also mammals and are larger than hedgehogs, roughly 2-3 feet in length. You can also add another foot for their tail. They have soft hair with a thick layer of needle-like quills on their back.
These quills start growing like hair in the initial days and soon after harden to act as their defense mechanism. Porcupines are capable of perking up and can also eject the quills at predators on feeling threatened.
Do Hedgehogs Shoot Quills?
Hedgehogs have more or less permanent quills, especially in comparison to Porcupines. The latter keep losing on their quills throughout their lives, whereas hedgehogs only lose quills as a baby. Hedgehogs raise their quills, making a crisscross pattern when they are threatened.
People have a common misconception that hedgehogs can shoot quills. This, however, is entirely false. They may lose some hair, but they cannot just pop their quills out and shoot.
Similarities of Hedgehogs and Procupines
Let’s look at some common features that both porcupines and hedgehogs possess.
The visual similarity between hedgehogs and porcupines would be their spines. Their backs are covered with a pointy surface which acts as their protection.
Commonality with Pigs
Another commonality is their common historical roots to pigs. Both porcupine and hedgehog make vocalizations similar to pig grunts.
Nature-wise, neither of these animals are social creatures. They prefer being alone and can be spotted across varying geographic locations and climates.
Sense of Smell
These mammals trace food using their sense of smell instead of their limited eyesight. Moreover, since most varieties of both these mammals are nocturnal, they do not need perfect eyesight to function.
Porcupines and hedgehogs differ in terms of both appearance and behavior.
To begin with, porcupines are larger in size than hedgehogs and weigh significantly more. Another distinguishing physical feature would be their noses. Hedgehogs possess brown button or berry noses, whereas porcupines feature big, visible, pink-colored nostrils like those found in small dogs or rabbits. Hedgehog has petite paws and short nails. On the other hand, Porcupines feature wider feet and strong claws that have a better grip.
Behavior-wise, the two of them differ in diets, temperament, among other things. Porcupines consume only plant-based food, making them vegetarians. In contrast, hedgehogs feed primarily on insects and snails while occasionally eating veggies.
Hedgehogs are mil-mannered and make for great little pets. In contrast, their large size and aggressiveness make porcupines an unpopular choice to be kept as a pet.
To Sum Up
Hedgehogs and Porcupines are adorable, spiky mammals that share certain similarities. But they are not related to each other. Both belong to different species and have many differences, both in terms of body features and behavior. One key difference is that while hedgehogs feed on insects, porcupines consume a vegetarian diet.
Their quills or spikes are what makes people wonder whether they are related on not. These mammals use them to escape possible predators and keep themselves safe.