Porcupine vs. Hedgehog

Porcupine vs. Hedgehog

Porcupine and hedgehog are genetically unrelated types of spiny mammals. Porcupine is type of large rodent, while hedgehog belongs to the order Erinaceomorpha which includes hedgehogs and gymnures. There are 29 species of porcupine classified in two groups: Old World porcupines, native to Europe, Asia and Africa and New World porcupines, native to North and South America. New World porcupines are smaller and less nocturnal than New World porcupines. Hedgehogs are less diverse group of animals with 17 species that originate from Europe, Asia and Africa. Porcupines can be found in tropical and temperate forests, grasslands, rocky outcrops, hillsides and deserts, while hedgehogs inhabit hedgerows, woodlands and meadows. Aside from prickly appearance, hedgehogs and porcupines have little in common. They differ in:

Size

Hedgehogs are much smaller than porcupines. They can reach 5 to 12 inches in length and 1 to 2.5 pounds of weight, while porcupines can reach 25 to 36 inches in length and 12 to 35 pounds of weight. Porcupines also have 8 to 10 inches long tail.

Morphology of Face and Feet

Hedgehogs have triangular face with pig-like snout and small feet with miniature toes and claws. Porcupines have round face and broad feet with long claws which facilitate climbing on the trees.

Spines and Defense Strategy

Hedgehogs are covered with large number of short, thick spines that are firmly attached to the skin. They lay flat most of the time and do not pose threat to the other animals. When hedgehog wants to protect itself against predators, it exposes its spines by curling the body into a ball. This way it hides face, belly and feet, the most sensitive parts of its body. Porcupines have long, sharp and barbed spines (quills) embedded in the skin muscles. They lay flat when porcupine is calm and safe and erect when porcupine needs to protect itself against predators. Close contact with predators triggers release of quills which act like miniature spears. Encounter with a porcupine usually ends up with painful wounds due to backward-faced barbs that penetrate deeply into the skin. Regeneration of lost quills does not take much time.

Lifestyle and Diet

Hedgehogs are terrestrial creatures and omnivores. They eats insects, snakes, frogs, snails, roots, berries, mushrooms and eggs. Porcupines are herbivores. Their diet is based on leaves, twigs, herbs and bark. New World Porcupines spend most of their life on the trees, while Old World porcupines spend their life and search food on the solid ground.

Hibernation

Hedgehogs hibernate during the winter hidden under the rocks, bushes or buildings. Porcupines are active all year long.

Lifespan

Hedgehog has an average lifespan of 2 to 7 years, while porcupine can survive up to 27 years in the wild.

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