Are Hedgehogs and Porcupines Related?

People are often afraid or refrain from keeping hedgehogs as pets because they are constantly compared and confused with porcupines.

While there are certain physical similarities between a porcupine and a hedgehog, they are both different animals. Their appearance may look the same, but the way they behave and function is entirely different. But are hedgehogs are porcupines related?

Hedgehogs and porcupines are not just different animals, and they are also not related at all.

Having certain similar looks and despite getting mistaken for each other most of the time, these two animals are not even related together. There are stark differences between both, and in fact, they come from entirely different lineages and animal groups

Do Porcupines and Hedgehogs Have a Common Ancestor?

The only similarity between a porcupine and a hedgehog is that they both have quills! The quills are modified hair that have formed into spines that protect these animals from predators.

Apart from this physical characteristic, research and history show that they are not related in any way, nor do they share a common ancestor.

The Differences Between a Porcupine and a Hedgehog

Porcupines and hedgehogs have one similarity between them, which is their quills. However, there are several differences between the two animals.

  • Different Locations
    Firstly, the porcupine and the hedgehog both belong to different places. They are found in different places of the world. Hedgehogs and porcupines are both native to Asia, Europe, and Africa. Hedgehogs have made a home in New Zealand. Porcupines can be found in Canada, United States, and North America.
  • Different Habitats
    Apart from the geographical difference, the hedgehog and porcupine belong to different habitats. Porcupines enjoy more than just one habitat. Some, belonging to South America, enjoy their time being up in trees. Across Europe, Asia, and Africa, porcupines enjoy the dessert, forests, and grass lands. On the contrary, hedgehogs build their nests under plants and vegetation. They can be found around farms and mostly in the countryside.

Porcupine Tree

  • Quills Have Different Functions
    Both animals, the hedgehog, and the porcupine have quills. However, even the quills look and perform their functions differently for both animals. Compared to the porcupine, hedgehogs have shorter quills that are not barbed. The quills do not shoot and do not attach themselves to the predator. Porcupines have long quills that can easily fall off them. These animals also have more quills than the hedgehog.
  • Sizes Differences
    Hedgehogs are comparatively smaller in size than porcupines. They also have small tails. Porcupines are bigger than hedgehogs and have longer tails which they use to climb trees. Hedgehogs prefer to stay on the ground.
  • Different Defenses
    When a hedgehog feels threatened, it curls into a spiked ball to prevent predators from touching them. On the other hand, porcupines use its tail to fend off predators. The loose quills come off and stick to the predator. The quills do not stand up like a hedgehog’s, but instead, the porcupine positions its back so that they look prominent.
  • Different Diets
    In terms of diet, porcupines are entirely herbivores. Their diet comprises leaves, fruits, and vegetables. One of the reasons why hedgehogs make wonderful pets is that they eat all the pesky garden pets. Hedgehogs are carnivores and eat worms, insects, centipedes, and even small snakes.

There are 6 complete reasons that go some way to show how hedgehogs and porcupines really are not all that similar at all.

Are Hedgehogs Baby Porcupines?

Just as hedgehogs and porcupines are different when they are fully mature, they are different when they are babies.

Hedgehogs are not baby porcupines. They are simply smaller in size than porcupines that often has people assuming that they are baby porcupines. Baby hedgehogs are called hoglets, while baby porcupines are known as porcupettes. If you have trouble distinguishing them at birth, you can do so by looking at the number of quills they have. Hedgehogs have around 6000 quills, while porcupines have a whopping 30000 quills.

Hedgehogs belong to the family of Erinaceidae and the subfamily of Erinaceinae. These spiny mammals are closely related to moonrats and gymnures. Together with gymnures, they form the whole family of Erinaceidae.

Although often mistaken for porcupines, hedgehogs are like moles and shrews. Porcupines, on the other hand, belong to the rodent family known as Rodentia.

What is Similar to a Porcupine?

You may be wondering, if not hedgehogs, then what is similar to porcupines?

Among all the spiny mammals, the animal most close to porcupines is echidnas. Not many studies have been done on them, but their quills are almost the same as a porcupine.

Porcupines and Echidnas

Summary

There has always been a debate among people regarding hedgehogs and porcupines. But are hedgehogs and porcupines related at all?

For people looking to house hedgehogs, there is a fear attached which is often linked to them confusing hedgehogs for porcupines. Hedgehogs and porcupines are different animals.

Moreover, they are completely unrelated. These two mammals do not have a common ancestor.

Hedgehogs are smaller in size than porcupines. They also have shorter quills that are not barbed, which means that they will not attach to you if you encounter the quills. Porcupines have barbed quills that can attach themselves to the predator.

Porcupines can climb trees with the help of their tails while hedgehogs remain on the ground and build nests under vegetation. Hedgehogs are carnivores and make great pets if you want to get rid of those nasty garden pets! Porcupines are herbivorous.

Hedgehogs turn into spiked balls when they feel threatened, and the porcupine swishes its tail around, and the quills fall off. Hedgehogs are often confused as being baby porcupines. They are simply smaller in size. Baby hedgehogs are called hoglets, while baby porcupines are known as porcupettes.

Hedgehogs have only 6000 quills, while porcupines have around 30000.

Hedgehogs are closely related to moonrats, moles, and shrews whereas, porcupine belongs to the rodent family. The one mammal that has been known to be like the porcupine is the echidnas. Not a lot of research has been done, but they have quills like porcupines.

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Hey, I'm Brian and I love hedgehogs. They're curious little animals that fascinate me. Over the years, I've become extremely knowledgeable about hedgehogs so have decided to share that knowledge here

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