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What's the difference between a hedgehog and a porcupine?

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If you think there’s not much difference between a hedgehog and a porcupine, you may be surprised to find out just how different they could be. While you won’t find hedgehogs in North or South America, you may cross paths with a porcupine. Snub-nosed and pigeon-toed, a large porcupine weighs in at a hefty 15 pounds, almost four times as heavy as an average, pointy-snouted hedgehog. A funny thing about porcupines is that they have four toes on their front feet and five toes on their back feet! While a hedgehog has about 7,000 one-inch quills visible all over his back and head, a porcupine carries about 30,000 two-inch quills concealed under a thick coat of fur on his rump and tail. (Hedgehogs don’t really have much of a tail.) Hedgehogs protect themselves by rolling up into a ball and their quills simply create an impenetrable barrier. Porcupines arch their backs, making the quills stand straight up. They also thrash their armored tails back and forth to hit an attacker. The porcupine ... more
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