Hedgehogs are small mammals, beloved by the public for their cute faces, spines, and unique personalities.
With 17 species, present everywhere except the Americas, Australia, and Antarctica, these endearing mammals are everywhere. So much so that they’re considered a highly invasive species when they’re imported into new areas.
That introduction, often resulting from people buying pets and releasing them or losing them, has resulted in numerous laws banning or restricting keeping them as pets.
While there are 17 species of hedgehog, not all of them are the same. All possess the characteristic spines and curl into a ball when threatened.
Most are brown, but some are also white. In addition, ear sizes vary, with some, like Brandt’s hedgehog that looks almost like bats, and one species only has 4 toes instead of the normal 5.
Here are 6 animals that resemble hedgehogs, in the least to most resemblance.
1. Sea Urchin
Scientific name (class): Echinoidea
Why Sea Urchins Are Like Hedgehogs: Sea urchins are covered with spines, and their name actually originates from “hedgehog”.
Sea urchins include over 950 species of underwater animals in the same phylum as starfish and sea lilies. They make the list because they’re covered with spines, but that’s where the resemblance ends.
In fact, sea urchins, which have spherical shells covered with spines, don’t have a brain.
In addition, their spines are made of calcium, intended to break off when something gets too close. That’s a big difference from hedgehogs, who grow spines out of keratin, or the same substance as human hair and fingernails.
Sea urchins eat almost anything. However, their diet consists of algae, plankton, barnacles, and mussels.
While the sea urchin bears little resemblance to the hedgehog, it’s named after them. Urchins were previously known as “sea hedgehogs”, and the name “urchin” developed from the Old French word for hedgehog, “herichun”.
Scientific names (families): Hystricidae or Erethizontidae
Why Porcupines Are Like Hedgehogs: Porcupines are covered in spines or quills made of dense keratin, just like hedgehogs.
Porcupines consist of two families of rodents with remarkably similar appearance and quills. Their name, which literally translates to “spiny pig”, refers to their tendency to grow thick spines across their back and head.
All porcupines have quills. However, baby porcupines (known as porcupettes) are soft. Those quills harden over the course of several days to weeks as they form dense layers of hardened keratin.
There’s also a popular myth that porcupines can shoot quills. They can’t.
Instead, quills are loosely attached, meaning they easily stick to an attacking animal, causing pain. However, many tarantulas can shoot spines – called urticating bristles – by flicking loose spines at attackers with their hind legs.
Porcupines are native to North America, South America, Italy, Asia, and Africa. North American porcupines also tend to have significantly more quills than their European and Asian counterparts.
Scientific name: Echinosorex gymnura
Why Moonrats Are Like Hedgehogs: Moonrats almost exactly resemble a hedgehog before it gets their spines, to the point where they’re nicknamed “primitive hedgehogs”.
Most people in Western countries have never heard of moonrats. However, these Southeast Asian mammals are so similar to hedgehogs that they’re sometimes called “primitive hedgehogs”. At first glance, though, many are also very similar to opossums.
Moonrats also don’t have spines. Instead, the hairs on their back are coated with a denser layer of keratin. Hairs also clump together, creating a bristly appearance.
In addition, moonrats are rare in that there’s only one species of them. However, that species has a diverse range of sizes, and can be as much as triple in size depending on the environment.
Scientific name (family): Solenodontidae
Why Solenodons Are Like Hedgehogs: Solendon look like hedgehogs with thinner bristles rather than spines.
Solenodons are another rare and relatively unknown species of mammals. Of the two surviving species, one lives in Cuba and the other in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Both have a vague resemblance to the hedgehog. However, that resemblance is surface only, as they diverged from other living mammals some 73 million years ago.
Solenodons are small and bristly. However, they don’t have quills. Instead, their thick bristles contain extra layers of keratin, creating an impression very like a cross between a shrew and a hedgehog.
In addition, they’re one of an estimated 15 venomous mammals. That makes them fairly unique in their own right, despite the resemblance to the much more common hedgehog.
Scientific name (family): Tenrecidae
Why Tenrecs Are Like Hedgehogs: Some species of Tenrec look so similar to hedgehogs that you can’t tell them apart at first glance.
Tenrecs are an extremely diverse group consisting of animals that almost exactly resemble hedgehogs, porcupines, rats, and even mice. Specific species, like the greater hedgehog tenrec, are almost uncannily similar in appearance.
However, most of the 31 species of tenrecs bear some resemblance to hedgehogs. Most also have thick, keratinous bristles, which closely resemble those of hedgehogs.
But with all Tenrec species native to Madagascar, most people aren’t aware they exist. Still, they’re extremely popular at zoos, but depending on the species, you might actually mistake them for more common hedgehogs.
Most tenrecs also weigh less than 2 pounds. In fact, the smallest species is about 1.8 inches in length, meaning they can be smaller than most mice. The largest one, the tailless tenrec, is over 15 inches long.
Tenrecs also stand out when giving birth, with many having 20-32 young at a time. That’s more than any other species of mammal!
Scientific name (family): Tachyglossidae
Why Echidnas Are Like Hedgehogs: Nicknamed “spiny anteater”, echidnas often look exactly like hedgehogs with long beaks.
Echidnas, also known as spiny anteaters, often look like a cross between a hedgehog and an anteater. The species is native to Australia and New Guinea and are not found anywhere else in the world.
In addition, there are four living species of echidnas. Those four species and the platypus are also the only living mammals to lay eggs. They also have beaks, making them very similar to the platypus.
Otherwise, echidnas look a lot like hedgehogs. They’re covered with keratinous and bristly spines. They also curl into a ball when threatened, deterring most predators.
However, unlike the hedgehog, echidnas mostly feed on ants and termites. They dig and tear apart anthills to find prey. Then, they grab ants with a long sticky tongue, which they pull back up through their beak.
Echidnas descend from a water animal like the platypus. However, today, they are entirely land-based animals. In fact, some species only live high up in mountains. This means that some species only occupy a very tiny area in Australia.
There are plenty of animals that look like hedgehogs. However, most of them aren’t even that closely related. Instead, nature evolved the same spines, sharp faces, and tails over and over again.
In addition, almost all of these animals have something else in common. You can’t keep them as pets in most areas. In fact, many of them are protected species that you can’t take out of their respective countries. So, if you were looking for animals like hedgehogs to keep as pets, this list won’t help you.