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Echidna vs Hedgehog: What's the Difference?

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While both echidnas and hedgehogs have their signature quills, what's the difference between the two animals? Not only do these two animals differ greatly physically, but they also have some differences in behavior. But how can you learn to tell the difference between an echidna and a hedgehog?

In this article, we'll explore all the similarities and differences between hedgehogs and echidnas, including their geographic location, preferred habitat, and lifespan. We'll also detail what they look like so you can tell them apart at a glance. let's start!

Comparing Echidnas and Hedgehogs

echidna vs hedgehog
Echidnas are much larger in length and weight than hedgehogs.

© AZ-Animals.com

echidna hedgehog
size 9-15 lbs; 14-20 inches long 2-5 lbs; 4-12 inches long
appearance Round body covered with spines; large spiked feet used for burrowing. A narrow and slender nose hides a long tongue. Usually an even tan. Compact body covered with short spikes; has small feet and almost invisible claws. Available in two shades, with a tapered face or nose.
location and habitat Australia and New Guinea; mountains and forests Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Europe; moist woodlands and forests or swamps
Behavior Curls into a ball as a defense mechanism; burrows to avoid daytime heat curling into a ball as a defense mechanism; nesting solitary night life
life 15-40 years old 4-6 years old

Key Differences Between Echidna and Hedgehog

echidna vs hedgehog
Hedgehogs live in very different places geographically compared to solitary echidnas.

©iStock.com/Carmelka

There are a number of key differences between echidnas and hedgehogs. Echidnas are much larger in length and weight than hedgehogs. Hedgehogs live in very different places geographically compared to solitary echidnas. While both animals roll into a ball as a form of defense, echidnas burrow and hedgehogs build nests.

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Let us now discuss all these differences in more detail.

Echidna vs Hedgehog: Size and Weight

echidna vs hedgehog
While both animals roll into a ball as a form of defense, echidnas burrow and hedgehogs build nests.

©Jukka Jantunen/Shutterstock.com

The main difference between echidnas and hedgehogs is their size and weight. Echidnas are much larger than hedgehogs in every way, and by a wide margin. The average hedgehog weighs 2-5 pounds, while the average echidna weighs 9-15 pounds. This means you should be able to tell the two creatures apart based on size alone!

Echidnas can reach lengths of 14-20 inches, while hedgehogs average 4-12 inches. There are many other physical differences between the two animals, but we'll get to that later.

Echidnas vs Hedgehogs: Location and Habitat Preference

echidna vs hedgehog
The average hedgehog weighs 2-5 pounds, while the echidna weighs 9-15 pounds.

©Anne Coatesy/Shutterstock.com

You won't find echidnas and hedgehogs living in the same habitat, just based on where they live. For example, echidnas are only found in Australia and New Guinea, while hedgehogs are found in Europe, Asia, Eurasia, and Africa. This means that hedgehogs are more widely distributed than echidnas.

The two animals also have different habitat preferences. Echidnas prefer high-altitude forests and mountains, while hedgehogs prefer moist environments such as swamps or coastal forests. Echidnas are rarely found in coastal areas, which makes them a key difference from hedgehogs.

Echidna vs Hedgehog: Appearance

echidna
Echidnas are only found in Australia and New Guinea, while hedgehogs are found in Europe, Asia, Eurasia and Africa.

©Vicki Cain/Shutterstock.com

While both creatures have unique spines, there are many physical differences between them. Echidnas tend to be one solid color throughout their bodies, while many species of hedgehogs have a two-tone appearance. The most common hedgehog has a cream belly and brown and cream spikes on its face, while the echidna has a tan body.

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Another key physical difference between the two animals is their feet. Hedgehogs have beautifully small feet with hardly any nails visible, while echidnas have large feet with thick, black nails. This is because echidnas often burrow, while hedgehogs build nests. Echidnas also have elongated snouts that hold a long tongue, while hedgehogs have conical snouts.

Echidna vs Hedgehog: Behavior

echidna vs hedgehog
Hedgehogs have beautifully small feet with hardly any nails visible, while echidnas have large feet with thick, black nails.

©Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova/Shutterstock.com

There are some behavioral differences between echidnas and hedgehogs. While both curl up into a ball and expose their quills when stressed or threatened, hedgehogs are kept as pets in many parts of the world, while echidnas are not. However, this is not their main behavioral difference.

Echidnas are prolific burrowers, often burrowing to escape the heat of the day, while hedgehogs build their nests. This may be because echidnas live in hotter environments or habitats compared to hedgehogs. Only certain species of echidnas are nocturnal, while all species of hedgehogs are nocturnal. However, both spiny creatures lead solitary lives, meeting their own kind only to reproduce.

Echidna vs Hedgehog: Lifespan

echidna vs hedgehog
Hedgehogs live on average 4-6 years, while echidnas live 15-40 years, depending on environmental factors.

© Best Dog Photos/Shutterstock.com

One final difference between echidnas and hedgehogs is their lifespan. Echidnas live far longer than hedgehogs. This may be because they were larger and able to survive more predators. But let's look at their lifespan in a little more detail.

Hedgehogs live on average 4-6 years, while echidnas live 15-40 years, depending on environmental factors. That's a huge difference, especially when you consider that there are far more hedgehogs in the world than echidnas! While both creatures are capable of self-defense, it's clear that echidnas live much longer in the long run.

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about the author

august croft


I am a non-binary freelance writer working full time in Oregon. A graduate of Southern Oregon University with a BA in Theater and a major in Creative Writing, I have an interest in a variety of topics, especially the history of the Pacific Northwest. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping on the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my family's kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast-iron skillet.

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