Echidna vs Hedgehog: What’s the Difference?

Written by August Croft
Updated: November 16, 2022
© Jukka Jantunen/Shutterstock.com
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While both an echidna vs hedgehog have trademark spines, what are the differences between these two animals? Not only are there a great deal of physical differences between these two animals- there are some behavioral differences as well. But how can you learn how to tell an echidna and a hedgehog apart?

In this article, we will go over all of the similarities and differences between a hedgehog and an echidna, including their geographical locations, preferred habitats, and lifespans. We will also go over their appearances in detail so that you can learn to tell them apart upon first glance. Let’s get started!

Comparing Echidna vs Hedgehog

echidna vs hedgehog
Echidnas grow far larger than hedgehogs in both length and weight.

©A-Z-Animals.com

EchidnaHedgehog
Size9-15 pounds; 14-20 inches long2-5 pounds; 4-12 inches long
AppearanceRound body covered in spines; large nailed feet for burrowing. Narrow and elongated snout hides a long tongue. Often one uniform tan color.Compact body covered in short spikes; has tiny feet with barely visible claws. Two toned in color and has a cone shaped face or snout.
Location and HabitatAustralia and New Guinea; high mountains and forestsAfrica, Asia, Eurasia, Europe; wet woodlands and forests or moorlands
BehaviorCurls into ball as a defense mechanism; burrows to avoid the heat of the dayCurls into ball as a defense mechanism; makes nests and lives a nocturnal life in solitude
Lifespan15-40 years4-6 years

Key Differences Between Echidna vs Hedgehog

echidna vs hedgehog
Hedgehogs live in very different locations geographically compared to the isolated echidna.

©iStock.com/Carmelka

There are many key differences between an echidna and hedgehog. Echidnas grow far larger than hedgehogs in both length and weight. Hedgehogs live in very different locations geographically compared to the isolated echidna. While both of these animals roll into balls as a form of defense, echidnas dig burrows while hedgehogs build nests.

Let’s discuss all of these differences in more detail now.

Echidna vs Hedgehog: Size and Weight

echidna vs hedgehog
While both of these animals roll into balls as a form of defense, echidnas dig burrows while hedgehogs build nests.

©Jukka Jantunen/Shutterstock.com

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

Echidnas reach anywhere from 14-20 inches in length, while hedgehogs average 4-12 inches in length. There are many other physical differences between these two animals as well, but we’ll get to that a bit later.

Echidna vs Hedgehog: Location and Habitat Preferences

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

©Anne Coatesy/Shutterstock.com

You will not find echidnas and hedgehogs living in the same habitats, simply based on the geographical locations that they live in. For example, echidnas are found in Australia and New Guinea exclusively, while hedgehogs are found in Europe, Asia, Eurasia, and Africa. This means that hedgehogs are more widespread than echidnas.

These two animals have differing habitat preferences as well. The echidna enjoys high elevation forests and mountainous regions, while hedgehogs enjoy damp and wet environments such as moorlands or coastal forests. Echidnas are rarely found in coastal regions, making this a key difference when comparing them to hedgehogs.

Echidna vs Hedgehog: Appearance

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

©Vicki Cain/Shutterstock.com

While both of these creatures have unique spines, there are many physical differences between them. Echidnas tend to be one solid color throughout their entire body, while many species of hedgehogs have a two-toned appearance. The most common hedgehog has a cream underbelly and face with brown and cream spikes, while echidnas appear tan throughout. 

Another key physical difference between these two animals is their feet. Hedgehogs have very small and dainty feet with hardly any nail visible, while echidnas have large feet and thick black nails. This is because echidnas frequently burrow, while hedgehogs make nests. Echidnas also have elongated snouts that hold their long tongue, while hedgehogs have cone shaped snouts.

Echidna vs Hedgehog: Behavior

echidna vs hedgehog
Hedgehogs have very small and dainty feet with hardly any nail visible, while echidnas have large feet and thick black nails.

©Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova/Shutterstock.com

There are a few behavioral differences between echidnas and hedgehogs. While both of them will curl up into a ball and reveal their spines 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 avoid the heat of the day, while hedgehogs build nests. This is likely due to the fact that echidnas live in hotter environments or habitats compared to hedgehogs. Only some species of echidna are nocturnal, while all species of hedgehogs are nocturnal. Both of these spiny creatures enjoy a solitary lifestyle however, meeting up with their own kind for breeding purposes only.

Echidna vs Hedgehog: Lifespan

echidna vs hedgehog
The average hedgehog lives anywhere from 4-6 years, while echidnas live 15-40 years, depending on environmental factors.

©Best dog photo/Shutterstock.com

A final difference between an echidna and a hedgehog has to be their lifespans. Echidnas far outlive hedgehogs, by a wide margin. This is likely due to the fact that they are larger and capable of surviving more predators, given their size. However, let’s take a look at their lifespans in more detail.

The average hedgehog lives anywhere from 4-6 years, while echidnas live 15-40 years, depending on environmental factors. That is a huge difference, especially when you consider that there are far more hedgehogs located around the world compared to echidnas! While both of these creatures are capable of defending themselves, it is clear that the echidna lives a much longer life in the long run.


The Featured Image

Animals that Eat Insects – Short-Beaked Echidna
The short-beaked Echidna forages through ant and termite nests.
© Jukka Jantunen/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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