Do you think twice before touching a hedgehog and petting it because of its scary spines? Of course, they might look dangerous and frightening with sharp quills all around their body, and you would not dare play around with them. But that should not be the case at all.
Do not confuse Hedgehogs with Porcupines. Porcupines have quills and spines that can be detached and latched onto enemies that are hurtful or painful. But hedgehogs are a completely different kind of animal that only shares similar looks with a porcupine.
Do Hedgehog Spines Hurt? To be simply put, hedgehog spines or spikes do not hurt. While hedgehogs use their spines for defense and protection, they are not harmful or threatening to humans. Hedgehogs have spines that are not venomous or do not contain any toxins or poison. Hedgehogs tend to pose no threat to humans, and they make excellent pets.
But that does not sum up our answer. Let us go deeper and comprehend it better.
What are hedgehog spines made of?
Hedgehogs have spikes, technically called spines which are not dangerous and contain no poison, venom, or toxins. The spines are basically hollowed or modified hair that become rigid due to the presence of keratin protein.
It is the same as growing human hair, fingernails, or toenails. But their spines are made of keratin with a hollow shaft. And each spine has a muscle which is the very reason why it can be used as a defense mechanism, unlike human hair.
Hedgehogs are generally born without a single spine. But within a few days, they grow around hundreds of spines that slowly get harder and sharper. Since hedgehogs usually live in the wild, although they can be pets, they use these hard and sharp spines to protect themselves from predators. But unlike porcupines that also use spikes to protect themselves, hedgehogs are not venomous.
But just because hedgehog’s spines pose no harm to humans does not mean you can be careless about it. Hedgehogs spines can feel different depending on the way you handle them and their intentions.
Relaxed and Defensive Mood of hedgehog
There are two positions or moods that hedgehog spines can feel differently. One is relaxed, and one is defensive.
When a hedgehog feels relaxed or is in a relaxed position, its spines are usually not that poky and sharp. The spines will be positioned evenly across your hands. It is when the hedgehogs are not in an alert mood and are harmless, and the spines do not hurt.
But there is a possibility of the hedgehog entering a defensive mood even when you are handling them or petting them. In a defensive mood, hedgehogs curl up, spread their spines, and make it more sharp and poky. So, in case a hedgehog curls up while they are in your arms, it can be painful to touch.
But as mentioned earlier, they are not poisonous. Even if it pokes you, there will be no severe effects, and it will not hurt you. But it will become a little harder to touch them.
So we see, hedgehog’s spines do not hurt. If you treat a hedgehog with love and care, they will feel more welcomed, and although not soft as a dog’s fur, they can be quite pleasing and easy to pet. But it is important not to threaten them in any way, or else their spines might poke you.
It will not pierce through your skin, but a curled-up hedgehog is not something you would want to pet.