Porcupine vs Echidna
Both echidna and porcupine are similar looking different animals with some interesting and unique features with them. Someone would think that both echidnas and porcupines are members of the same family, but they are not. Therefore, it is very important to clarify the uncertainties about these two.
Echidnas, aka spiny anteaters, belong to the Order: Monotremata and the Family: Tachyglossidae. There are four species of echidnas classified in two genera, and they range in Oceania (Australia and surrounding islands) and Southeast Asia. An echidna is 35 – 50 centimetres in length and 4 – 10 kilograms in weight. Being egg-laying mammals, echidnas are special. Their speciality becomes more prominent with the presence of spines all over the body with coarse hair. They have an elongated snout that functions as both the mouth and the nose. Inside their snout, the presence of over 2,000 electro receptors is unique to them. Their tiny mouth does not have teeth. Echidnas have short and strong limbs as adaptations for digging the ground. Their reproduction is also interesting as males have a four-headed penis, and the female echidna lays eggs and deposits those inside her pouch until hatching. The hatchlings (referred as puggles) feed on the oozing milk from mother’s milk patches inside the pouch, and remain there for about 45 days. Puggles have developed spines by the time of coming out of the mother’s pouch, and they live up to 16 years.
Porcupine is a spine-covered mammal belonging in the Order: Rodentia. They live in a range of habitats from tropical to temperate forests and grasslands of Asia, Europe, Africa, and America. There are 29 species of porcupines classified in eight genera. A porcupine could measure between 10 and 35 kilograms of weight with 60 – 90 centimetres of length. Usually, they are nocturnal, and feed on plant material. However, gnawing on fresh animal bones is also a common phenomenon among them. Porcupines are special rodents because of the presence of sharp spines on the skin, which are a modification of the hairs in mammals. However, their spines or quills are strong in structure as there are keratin-coated plates. These spines are useful in defending themselves against their predators. Salt licking is a behaviour that porcupines prefer more often than not. In temperate species, the reproduction takes place in fall or early winter, while tropical species mate throughout the year. Gestation lasts for about 31 weeks. Their usual lifespan is five to seven years in the wild, whereas they live up to 20 years in captivity.
What is the difference between Porcupine and Echidna?
• Echidnas are egg-laying mammals, but porcupines are placental rodents.
• Porcupines have sharper and stronger spines compared to those of echidnas.
• The spines of porcupine vary in length, whereas echidna has short and thin spines all over the body.
• Porcupines have a broader distribution and a higher diversity compared to porcupines.
• Porcupines are larger than echidnas, but the lifespan in wild is higher in the Australian monotremes.
• Porcupines are more often herbivorous, but echidnas are omnivorous.