Hedgehog vs Groundhog: What’s the Difference?

Written by August Buck
Published: March 12, 2022
Image Credit Coatesy/Shutterstock.com
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While the names may be similar, there are vast differences between a hedgehog vs groundhog. But what might some of these differences be, and what can you expect when trying to tell these two animals apart? Both hedgehogs and groundhogs enjoy grassy areas as their preferred habitats- but this is where their similarities end!

In this article, we will discuss all of the differences between a groundhog vs hedgehog, including their behavior, lifespan, and geographical locations. We will also go over their appearances in detail so that you can learn how to tell them apart. Let’s get started!

Comparing Hedgehog vs Groundhog

hedgehog vs groundhog
A hedgehog is much smaller than a groundhog, both in length and weight.

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HedgehogGroundhog
Size2-5 pounds; 4-12 inches long10-13 pounds; 2 feet long
AppearanceCompact body covered in short spikes; has tiny feet with barely visible claws. Two toned in color and has a cone shaped face or snout.Stocky body covered in brown or tan fur; exposed teeth and medium length furry tail. Large claws and often stands on hind legs.
Location and HabitatAfrica, Asia, Eurasia, Europe; wet woodlands and forests or moorlandsNorth America; fields, grasslands, pastures
BehaviorCurls into ball as a defense mechanism; makes nests and lives a nocturnal life in solitudeDigs complicated burrows, and helps maintain soil quality; lives in familial units or groups
Lifespan4-6 years6-14 years

Key Differences Between Hedgehog vs Groundhog

hedgehog vs groundhog
Groundhogs build complicated burrows and live much of their life underground, while hedgehogs build nests above ground.

KAMONRAT/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences between hedgehogs and groundhogs. A hedgehog is much smaller than a groundhog, both in length and weight. Groundhogs build complicated burrows and live much of their life underground, while hedgehogs build nests above ground. The average hedgehog lives a much shorter life than the average groundhog as well.

Let’s take a look at these differences in more detail now.

Hedgehog vs Groundhog: Size and Weight

hedgehog vs groundhog
The average hedgehog lives a much shorter life than the average groundhog.

samray/Shutterstock.com

You can tell the difference between a hedgehog and a groundhog based on their sizes alone. A groundhog grows far larger than a hedgehog, by a large margin. The average hedgehog reaches anywhere from 4-12 inches in length, while groundhogs grow 2 feet long on average. This means that groundhogs weigh more than hedgehogs as well- but how much more?

Depending on their age and gender, groundhogs grow anywhere from 10-13 pounds, while hedgehogs average 2-5 pounds. This makes hedgehogs much smaller than groundhogs, and this is evident if you compare the two side by side.

Hedgehog vs Groundhog: Location and Habitat Preferences

hedgehog vs groundhog
Groundhogs love living in grasslands, pastures, fields, and farmland areas, while hedgehogs enjoy moorland, wet forests, and grasslands.

You won’t find a hedgehog and a groundhog living in the same location, despite a slight overlap of their habitat preferences. This is because groundhogs only live in North America, while hedgehogs live in Africa, Europe, Eurasia, and Asia. However, you can find hedgehogs in North America when they are kept as exotic pets.

Groundhogs love living in grasslands, pastures, fields, and farmland areas, while hedgehogs enjoy moorland, wet forests, and grasslands. Overall, hedgehogs prefer moist soil and climates, while groundhogs are capable of handling drier or colder climates overall. However, both of these creatures hibernate as part of their seasonal life cycle.

Hedgehog vs Groundhog: Appearance

hedgehog vs groundhog
Groundhogs have extremely powerful claws and feet compared to a hedgehog’s dainty toes.

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There are many differences in the appearance of a hedgehog vs the appearance of a groundhog. You may already be able to guess one: hedgehogs have rows of tiny spikes on their backs, while groundhogs have fur and thick coats. Groundhogs also have extremely powerful claws and feet compared to a hedgehog’s dainty toes.

The average hedgehog has a cone shaped head with beady eyes, while groundhogs have rounded heads covered in fur and whiskers. Another physical difference between these two is that groundhogs have bushy and furry tails, while hedgehogs do not.

Hedgehog vs Groundhog: Behavior

hedgehog vs groundhog
You may already be able to guess one: hedgehogs have rows of tiny spikes on their backs, while groundhogs have fur and thick coats.

SakSa/Shutterstock.com

The behavior of a hedgehog vs groundhog is vastly different. Hedgehogs craft solitary nests atop the surface of the earth, while groundhogs form vast networks of burrows and tunnels under the soil. They do this with the help of their familial unit or group of other groundhogs, while hedgehogs live alone.

Hedgehogs roll into compact balls when threatened, revealing their spines- it is their primary form of defense. Given that groundhogs don’t share this simple defense mechanism, they communicate with their fellow groundhogs whenever they feel as if a threat is nearby. By using a series of whistles and sounds, they can alert one another to harm, while a hedgehog is relatively alone.

Hedgehog vs Groundhog: Lifespan

hedgehog vs groundhog
Hedgehogs craft solitary nests atop the surface of the earth, while groundhogs form vast networks of burrows and tunnels under the soil.

iStock.com/BrianEKushner

A final difference between hedgehogs and groundhogs is their lifespan. Groundhogs outlive hedgehogs, whether or not they are kept in captivity, with captive groundhogs outliving hedgehogs by a large margin. But just how large, and why might this be the case? Let’s talk about that now.

Groundhogs live an average of 6 years in the wild and 14 years in captivity, while hedgehogs live an average of 4-6 years total. This is likely due to a hedgehog’s smaller size compared to a groundhog’s larger size, as smaller animals typically live shorter lives than large ones. Groundhogs also gain a great deal of protection from their burrows and tunnels, while hedgehogs don’t have this as a regular option.

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