Difference Between Porcupine and Hedgehog

Porcupine vs Hedgehog

Both porcupine and hedgehog are much similar looking but different animals with some noticeable differences exhibited between them with regard to their characteristics and distribution patterns. Despite their close appearance, some meticulous studying would reveal the differences between them. Therefore, it would be interesting to know and clarify the uncertainties about these two, and this article presents valuable information.


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 mammalian hairs. 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, which 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, and the usual litter size is one. Their usual lifespan is five to seven years in the wild, whereas they live up to 20 years in captivity.


Hedgehog is a spiny-skinned mammal naturally ranging in Asia, Africa, and mainly in Europe. There are introduced populations in New Zealand. It is a much popular animal as a pet in many places. However, there are 17 hedgehog species described under five genera of the Family: Erinaceidae and Order: Erinaceomorpha. They have hairs made up of stiff keratin structures, and those act as spines, and the interior of these spines are hollow. Additionally, their spines are not poisonous or barbed as in porcupines and do not easily detached from the body. When they get excited, they can roll the body as the spines are directed outward as a strategy to prevent from the predators.

Hedgehogs are primarily active in the night, but some are diurnal, as well. These highly vocal animals are omnivorous and mostly prefer to feed on insects, small mammals, snails, roots, and fruits. The gestation periods of the females vary 35 to 58 days depending on the species. Usually adult male kills the weak newborn male animals. However, their lifespan is about 4 – 7 years in wild, but it is much more than that in captivity. They have been useful for humans as a pet as well as in pest controlling.

What is the difference between Porcupine and Hedgehog?

• Porcupine is a rodent while hedgehog belongs to the Order: Erinaceomorpha.

• Porcupine is a spine-covered mammal while hedgehog is a spiny-skinned mammal; in other words, porcupine has more prominent spines than hedgehog does.

• Porcupine spines are barbed and poisonous but not the hedgehog spines.

• There are more porcupine species than hedgehog species in the world.

• Porcupines can live under more tropical conditions than hedgehogs.

• Hedgehogs are mostly found in Europe, whereas porcupines are very common in tropical Africa and Asia.

• Gestation is much longer in porcupines than in hedgehogs.

• Hedgehogs are omnivorous while porcupines are herbivorous.