Why Do Hedgehogs Have Spikes?

Hedgehogs are notable for their spiny backs and often seem intimidating because of it. The spikes will cause no harm to you as a pet owner, but why do hedgehogs have spikes? Some people are unaware of the importance that the spikes entail for hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs have spikes to protect themselves against predators. It is used solely as a defence mechanism. Hedgehogs cannot shoot their spikes. 

When a hedgehog feels safe and relaxed, the spikes lay flat on its body and point towards its tail. However, if a hedgehog feels threatened, it raises its spikes and turns into a ball. By turning into a spiked ball, any predator that tries to touch the hedgehog will hurt itself and hence, leave it alone.

Do Hedgehog Spikes Hurt?

One common question that people have regarding a hedgehog’s spikes is if they hurt. When deciding to get a hedgehog, its spikes usually make people turn away because they are afraid of getting hurt. However, a hedgehog’s spikes do not hurt.

Whether the spike hurts you or not depends on the position of the hedgehog. When a hedgehog is relaxed, comfortable, and feels safe around you, it will have its spikes down. The spikes will lay flat on the hedgehog’s tiny body, pointing towards its tail.

When a hedgehog is in a relaxed position, you can hold it without hurting yourself. You can also pet the hedgehog in the direction of its quills. Most hedgehogs love to be petted by their owners. However, you must ensure that you do not pet the hedgehog in the opposite direction, or you can get hurt.

If your hedgehog feels threatened or unsafe, it will raise its spikes.

Usually, when new hedgehogs are first brought to their homes, they feel nervous and unsafe. They may raise their spikes and stay vigilant. Hedgehogs may also raise their spikes if they get angry and display aggressive behaviour.

You must never touch your hedgehog if it has its quills standing up. If you do so, you may hurt yourself with the spikes. The spikes, also known as quills, will not pierce through your skin, but they will still hurt.

Please wait for the hedgehog to relax before touching it.

What Happens If a Hedgehog Spikes You?

The thing people are most afraid of is their hedgehog spikes them.

Many people assume that hedgehogs have barbed spikes and will get stuck to their skin. However, contrary to popular belief, if the hedgehog’s spikes do touch your skin, it will not remain intact there. This is because hedgehogs have spikes that do not come out, nor can they move or shoot them.

Therefore, if a hedgehog pokes you, you will not feel much pain. Hence, there is no reason for you to worry if you do get spiked by your hedgehog.

You must always be calm when handling your hedgehog, and you can avoid getting spiked altogether. However, if a hedgehog spikes you, you must leave it alone. A hedgehog with its raised quills means that it does not want to interact and needs to be left alone.

If you have been poked with a spine, you can go ahead and wash the spiked area with soap and water. A hedgehog’s spikes will not pierce through your skin; therefore, you do not need to worry.

What is the Benefit of Hedgehogs Having Spines?

Hedgehog spines are essentially modified hair. The spines are made from keratin like human hair. But why do hedgehogs have spines?

Hedgehogs have spines so they can protect themselves. These small mammals are vulnerable to the animal world because they do not have great eyesight. To accompany their impeccable sense of hearing, hedgehogs have spines.

Hedgehogs do not attack other animals but instead defend themselves. Any predator will get hurt if it tries to get close by curling into a spiked ball, hence leaving the hedgehog alone.

Apart from protecting themselves, there are other things that hedgehogs do. For example, hedgehogs get protection using their spines from any falls. Hedgehogs are rather clumsy. The spines pushing into the skin provide balance, and they bend to protect the hedgehog.

The spines also provide the hedgehog with its buoyancy characteristic. Hedgehogs can float on their back in the water as the spines are empty. Your hedgehog is like a boat floating in the water.

What Are the Drawbacks of Hedgehogs Having Spines?

Although spines are modified hair, they are not like fur. Unlike other animals with fur, spines provide hedgehogs with no insulation. Therefore, whenever deciding to keep a hedgehog, it is essential to maintain the appropriate temperature in the room for it.

As the spines are deep-rooted in the hedgehog’s body, it can cause it to get stuck in a lot of places.

Hedgehogs may flatten their spines to get inside a small space but getting outside can be tricky, and they can get stuck. There are many incidents where hedgehogs get stuck in cages, nets, and wirings because of their spines.


Hedgehogs have spikes to protect themselves from any predators.

These mammals do not attack any animals but instead defend themselves by curling into a spiked ball. A hedgehog’s spikes will not hurt if they are relaxed and pointing towards its tail. However, if the spikes are raised, touching them can hurt you.

Therefore, you must always wait until your hedgehog is relaxed to touch it.

If your hedgehog has spiked you, you have nothing to worry about as the spikes are not barbed. A hedgehog’s spikes are its defence mechanism and allow it to float in water. Moreover, the spikes protect hedgehogs from getting hurt in falls.

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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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