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Home > Hedgehogs > Are Hedgehogs Rodents? Taxonomy Explained

Are Hedgehogs Rodents? Taxonomy Explained

Hedgehogs Closeup

As hedgehogs become more popular in the United States due to their attractive appearance, inexpensive maintenance, and long life spans, the number of questions we get about these fantastic animals also increases. One of the most common questions we get is concerned people worried that they might be purchasing a rodent. Hedgehogs have many similar features to a mouse or mole, so it’s not a bad question.

If you were thinking about getting a hedgehog for your home but would like to know if it is a rodent or not first, you’ve come to the right place. The short answer is no. Hedgehogs are not rodents. But we’re about to take a deeper look into this question to help you be better informed.


Is a Hedgehog a Rodent?

Hedgehog Eating
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Though a hedgehog has similar facial features and body style as a rodent, they belong to two different families, and there are many differences between them.

  • Hedgehogs are in the Erinaceidae family, which consists mostly of hedgehogs. Many people describe hedgehogs as large shrews. Rodents belong to the Rodentia family, which is much larger and makes up 43% of the mammalian species. This family includes several animals, including rats, mice, hamsters, squirrels, beavers, porcupines, chipmunks, lemmings, muskrats, guinea pigs, and more.
  • Rodents have incisor teeth that continue to grow throughout their lives. Failure to maintain these teeth continuously by showing Timothy hay or similar substance to wear them down or it can cause problems eating. In fact, the word Rodentia is a Latin word meaning “to gnaw.” Hedgehogs do not have these incisors. Instead, they have a set of 44 teeth that are much more similar to humans, and it’s one of the biggest differences between these two animals.
  • Rodents have developed special features that help them survive like large cheeks to hold food or back legs that allow them to jump through the sand. While hedgehogs have specialized features like their quills, most look relatively similar and only have minor differences between them, like the ability to hibernate.
  • Rodents have a very wide distribution, and you can find them in every country of the world, including the Arctic tundra. The hedgehogs also enjoy a wide distribution, but you will not find them on the continent of Australia, nor will you find them in North or South America unless they’re someone’s pet.
  • Hedgehogs live predominantly by the surface, while rodents can live on the surface, underground, or high in the trees, depending on the species.
  • The porcupine is a rodent with quills, but they are much different from the hedgehog’s quills. Porcupine quills come out of their body to stay stuck in the attacker, while the hedgehog’s quills do not. Hedgehogs prefer to curl up into a ball so their quills stick out like a pincushion, deterring predators.
European hedgehog in the wild
Image By: aaltair, Shutterstock



As you can see, the hedgehog might look like a rodent at first glance, but there are several significant differences between the two animals, which proves they’re not related. Hedgehogs belong to a much smaller family where all the species closely resemble each other, and there are very few differences between them. It has a wide distribution but nothing close to that of rodents, which you can find almost everywhere in the world.

In our opinion, the easiest way to tell the hedgehog is not a rodent is by looking at the teeth. Rodents have telltale large front teeth that require the animal to gnaw on fiber continuously. Hedgehogs do not have these large incisors and instead have a full set of teeth much more similar to ours.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this short guide and found the answers you need.

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Featured Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

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