Do Hedgehogs Have Quills? [All Myths Debunked]

People tend to have fear of hedgehogs’ quills. Why? Because they have little knowledge about the quills. They feel like the quills could be something dangerous for their skin.

However, the quills are actually pure keratin, like our hair and it’s soft and spiky. Moreover, there is nothing to be feared about hedgehogs’ quills.

But, still, you’re quite curious and ask yourself- do hedgehogs have quills?

Well, hedgehogs have quills. They use the quills to protect themselves from any danger. Especially, from the predators who might want to hunt them every now and then. The quills become sharp in their defensive position and it becomes soft in their relaxed position.

But, one thing you might not know- hedgehogs pass a challenging time with their quills. If you want to know more about hedgehogs and their quills, this article is for you. 

Why do Hedgehogs Have Quills?

Why do Hedgehogs Have Quills

Hedgehogs are tiny mammals that are endangered by a variety of predatory species, like foxes, who feast on them. When hedgehogs sense danger, they curl tight balls, and all of their spikes become very sharp and spiky.

As a result, the predator recognizes that they would be dealing with a tough individual and runs away from them. This is why they turn themselves into such spiky tiny animals in an attempt to defend themselves. 

Well, the quills serve to protect their sensitive abdomen, which is the trophy that predators are hunting when they hunt for prey. Moreover, they try to protect themselves from predators to keep their bellies safe.

Position of Hedgehog Quills

Position of Hedgehog Quills

Well, hedgehogs have long and stiff quills on their back. These are usually kinds of spines that are hollow. The hedgehogs use these spines to prevent themselves from any danger.

However, the spines rest on top of two distinct muscles of the back, which the animal may utilize to either thrust them out or rest them as the situation requires.

This is how the hedgehogs use two positions either to defend themselves or to make the quills relax. Let’s get started with these two positions and how they work- 

Relax Position

When the hedgehogs feel to relax their quills, they take this position. They have sharp spines, but, when hedges are relaxed, the tips of the spines do not cause as much pain.

Also, the quills on the hand of a calm hedgehog are evenly dispersed throughout the skin of the hand. Here, they do not penetrate the skin and are able to support the whole weight of the animal.

When you think about it, you may picture something like a coffee straw or a hairbrush. In this way, they work for their relaxed quills to get some rest.

Defense Position

In this situation, the hedgehogs require some actions to defend themselves from predators. In order to protect themselves, hedgehogs will curl up into a ball when threatened.

When the spines are curled up, the sharpness of the spines changes. As the quills stretch out, the tips of quills get longer and more pointed as they grow in length.

And, when we’ll come into touch with the quills, we may experience some pain, despite the fact that they are unlikely to penetrate our skin.

However, getting to know the hedgehog and developing a trusting connection with it are your best bets for avoiding getting injured or killed by it. If you’re nervous about holding them for the first time, wearing a needle-resistant glove may help to calm your fears.

This is how hedgehogs use their defense ability to protect them. Hedgehogs are small in size but they know how to protect themselves very well.

Do Hedgehog Quills Have Poison?

As the quills are formed of keratin, which is the same big part of what makes up human hair and fingernails.

The spikes of hedgehogs are neither poisonous nor dangerous. Despite being hollow within, their quills are very resilient and light.

Number of Quills Hedgehogs Have

According to the kind of hedgehog, the number of quills on a hedgehog might vary greatly. Hedgehogs normally are able from 5,000 to 7,000 quills on their backsides, which is the average number for the species.

However, hedgehogs lose their quills in a process known as quilling which happens when they release their baby spikes and substitute them with adult spikes. An immature hedgehog may shed around 20 quills every day for many weeks at a time.

Reasons for Hedgehog Losing Quills

It’s true that hedgehogs will lose quills. Let’s look at the reasons why it happens-


Two possible causes of hedgehog quill loss include mites and diseases. Another aspect that might contribute to this is high levels of stress. This stress can come from various reasons.

A new environment, therapy or surgery, or an accident or disease may cause stress in hedgehogs. And, this stress can lead to behavioral problems.

A hedgehog’s extreme quill loss is only normal in its first year. After quilling, or even after all that, there must be an issue with his quill count.

Mites are the most typical culprit. The quills of hedgehogs may be badly damaged by mites, resulting in a chain of dead quills dropping out at night. Hedgehogs’ hair loss may be getting worse by mites.

You need to contact your veterinarian immediately if you are certain that mites are present.

Quilling Process

Hedgehogs shed their quills in their quilling process. In this way, hedgehogs develop and release their quills, which is a natural occurrence for them.

Well, this is an obvious natural phenomenon for hedgehogs. However,  they start losing their quills at an early age. But this is not a continuous process for all hedgehogs as it occurs in different stages.

When they are 5 to 6 weeks old, they start exposing their signs of illness. This process is occurred three to four times in a series on regular basis intervals before they reach the age of one. After then, the process stops occurring again. However, this is not applicable to all hedgehogs.

Even all hedgehogs are not included in the same group. Furthermore, this is possible to have 15 months quilling process. As it is not mentioned clearly how long the time will last.

Moreover, this is a challenge for the hedgehogs. Because it creates irritation for the shedding and adjusting quilling process.


Do Hedgehogs Have Quills Like Porcupines?

Hedgehogs and porcupines may seem alike in their quills, but they are not related. Also, hedgehog quills are more difficult to remove from their bodies than those of porcupines.

Do Hedgehog Quills Have Nerves?

No, they don’t. Hedgehogs control the quills with their muscles.

Do Hedgehogs Shoot Quills?

The quills are made of keratin-like human hair. The quills work as human hair too these quills can’t be shoot, they can fall off like our hair.

Are hedgehogs born with quills?

No, they’re born with spines. 


I hope now you know the answer to this question- do hedgehogs have quills. The hedgehogs pass a difficult and challenging time with their quilling process.

However, the quills work to protect them. Plus, the quills are not dangerous,  they don’t hurt if you can adjust once you learn to handle the hedgehogs.

Moreover, the quills are unique and these quills made people curious to know about hedgehogs. And their quills. Nevertheless, it benefits the hedgehogs a lot.

So, I guess that’s all from us. Take Care of your pet hedgehog. Goodbye!

Ryan Dugan
Ryan Dugan
Ryan Dugan

Ryan Dugan is a dedicated pet care professional who offers top-notch services for a variety of pet species. He has a soft spot for my own feline companion, Sophie. He is passionate about animals He shares his knowledge and experience on his blog to help other pet owners understand and care for their own beloved companions. Whether you need a pet-sitting service or advice on pet care, He is the go-to expert.

Articles: 140

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *