Do Hedgehog Quills Come Out? [Key Facts Explained]


The prickly question of whether hedgehog quills come out has piqued the interest of many, from curious minds to anxious hedgehog owners.

Hedgehogs, with their unique, spiny appearance, evoke fascination and curiosity, but their quills – or spines – bring up many questions.

Can you touch them without getting pricked? Do they fall out like hair or feathers? And perhaps most importantly, what happens if one does come out?

Quick Answer: Do Hedgehog Quills Come Out?

Yes, hedgehog quills do come out, but not in the same way that hair or feathers do. This typically happens during a process known as ‘quilling’, where young hedgehogs shed their baby quills to make room for adult ones.

But don’t worry – this is a natural part of a hedgehog’s growth cycle, just like when humans lose their baby teeth!

However, excessive quill loss in adult hedgehogs may indicate stress or health issues, so it’s important to keep an eye on your spiky friend and seek veterinary advice if necessary.

Can hedgehogs spikes come out?

Absolutely, but remember, these ‘spikes’ are not weapons that a hedgehog can actively shed or fire at will. They’re modified hairs that can fall out naturally or when a hedgehog is stressed or sick.

And no, hedgehog quills don’t stick to skin like porcupine quills. However, you might get pricked if you handle a hedgehog incorrectly.

Knowing how to handle your prickly pet can make a difference and help prevent any unwanted injuries to you or the hedgehog.

So, can you pull out hedgehog quills? Pulling out a hedgehog’s quills is not recommended. It’s akin to pulling out a human’s hair and can be painful and harmful to the hedgehog.

It’s best to let nature take its course, and if you’re concerned about excessive quill loss, consult a vet.

Understanding Hedgehogs: A Brief Overview

When exploring the question, “do hedgehog quills come out?”, it helps to start with some general knowledge about hedgehogs.

These adorable creatures are much more than their quills – small, nocturnal mammals known for their distinctive spiny coats and inquisitive nature.

Around 17 species of hedgehogs vary in size and characteristics, but they all share the common feature of having quills, also known as spines, on their backs.

What Are Hedgehog Quills?

Hedgehog quills are stiff, sharp-pointed hairs that cover a hedgehog’s back and sides. They are made of keratin, the same material that makes up human hair and nails.

Unlike porcupine quills, hedgehog quills don’t have barbs at the end and cannot be thrown or easily detached.

Why Do Hedgehogs Have Quills?

Quills serve as a protective mechanism for hedgehogs. When threatened, a hedgehog will curl up into a ball, exposing only its spiky quills to a potential predator.

It’s a clever tactic to deter any unwanted attention. Plus, the quills also provide some protection against the elements, helping to keep the hedgehog warm.

The Life Cycle of Hedgehog Quills

Just as a caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly, a hedgehog’s quills also go through a transformative life cycle. Understanding this can help answer the prickly question: “do hedgehog quills come out?

Do Baby Hedgehogs Lose Their Quills?

In a word, yes. Baby hedgehogs, or hoglets as they are adorably called, are born with a soft set of quills. However, within a few weeks, they start losing these baby quills to make room for stronger, adult ones – a process known as ‘quilling’.

The Quilling Process in Adolescent Hedgehogs

Quilling usually occurs when a hedgehog is between 6 to 8 weeks old. During this time, you may notice a significant amount of quill loss, which can disconcert the new hedgehog owners.

But rest assured, this is a natural and necessary process in a hedgehog’s life. Quilling can be uncomfortable for the little ones, just like teething in human babies.

A balanced diet during this phase can help support their growth and make the quilling process smoother.

Quilling can also occur when a hedgehog experiences hormonal changes, typically around the age of one year. A mature hedgehog doesn’t lose quills regularly like humans lose hair, but quill loss can still happen due to age, stress, or health issues.

Handling and Care During the Quilling Process

Knowing how to handle and care for your pet during its quilling process is crucial if you’re a hedgehog owner. Here are some tips to help you navigate this prickly period.

Gentle Handling

Your hedgehog may be more sensitive than usual during quilling due to the new quills pushing through. Handling your pet gently is essential, ensuring not to apply pressure on its back.

Think about how you would feel if you had a toothache – the last thing you’d want is someone poking around!

Providing a Comfortable Environment

A comfortable and stress-free environment can make the quilling process easier for your hedgehog. This means maintaining a comfortable temperature (about 72-80°F or 22-27°C), offering plenty of hiding spaces, and ensuring a quiet, undisturbed habitat.

Balanced Nutrition

As mentioned earlier, a balanced diet can support your hedgehog’s growth and help make the quilling process smoother. In addition to commercially available hedgehog food, you can supplement their diet with homemade meals.

Providing a variety of foods ensures they get all the necessary nutrients during this crucial growth phase.

Regular Baths

Regular baths can help soothe your hedgehog’s skin and remove any loose quills during quilling. Always use lukewarm water (about 85-90°F or 29-32°C) and a mild, unscented soap or shampoo safe for small animals.

Gently rinse the soap off and dry your hedgehog thoroughly afterwards.

Consult a Vet if Necessary

If you notice excessive quill loss outside the normal quilling period or other signs of distress (like loss of appetite, lethargy, or skin irritations), it’s best to consult a vet.

They can help identify if your hedgehog is experiencing health issues or simply undergoing a normal quilling process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Now, let’s tackle some common questions about hedgehog quills that often come up among owners and enthusiasts alike.

1. Do hedgehog quills grow back?

Yes, hedgehog quills do grow back. Just like human hair, if a quill is lost, a new one will eventually grow in its place. This process can take several weeks, so be patient!

2. How many quills does a hedgehog have?

On average, a hedgehog can have around 5,000 to 7,000 quills. This number can vary based on the hedgehog’s size, age, and overall health.

3. Do hedgehogs shed their quills?

Yes, hedgehogs shed their quills, but it’s not a constant process like a dog sheds fur.

They shed their baby quills when they are young during the quilling process, and they may also shed occasionally throughout their life due to various factors such as stress or illness.

4. Is it normal for my hedgehog to lose quills?

During the quilling process or due to minor stress, it’s normal for a hedgehog to lose quills.

However, if your hedgehog is losing many quills outside of the normal quilling periods, this could indicate a health problem, and it would be wise to consult a vet.

5. Can a hedgehog run out of quills?

While hedgehogs can lose quills, they won’t completely run out. New quills will grow back to replace the ones that were lost.


Understanding hedgehogs’ unique characteristics and behaviors, particularly their quills, can help you appreciate these adorable critters better.

Their quills play a crucial role in their survival in the wild and are an important consideration for anyone considering welcoming a hedgehog into their home.

While a natural part of a hedgehog’s life cycle, the quilling process can require additional care and attention from owners.

Providing a stress-free environment, a balanced diet, gentle handling, and regular baths can help ease your pet through this prickly period. And when in doubt, always consult with a professional.

Whether you’re already a hedgehog owner or contemplating becoming one, here’s one thing we know – these spiky little companions can bring great joy and fascination into our lives!

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