How Many Bones Does A Hedgehog Have?

How Many Bones Does A Hedgehog Have

Hedgehogs are small, spiny mammals that have become increasingly popular as pets. While they may be cute and cuddly to look at, there is a lot about them that we don’t know yet. One of the most frequent questions people ask is how many bones does a hedgehog have?

In this article, we will explore the skeletal structure of a hedgehog and find out just how many bones it has in its body. We’ll also discuss why knowing this information is important for those who care for these animals. So read on to learn more about the mysterious anatomy of a hedgehog!

How Many Bones Does A Hedgehog Have?

A hedgehog has 206 bones in its body. This includes all the bones in its head, neck, spine, and limbs. The number of bones can vary slightly depending on the breed of hedgehog.

Where are the Bones Located?

The majority of a hedgehog’s 206 bones are located in its head and neck area. It has 42 vertebrae along its spine that help provide support for movement and flexibility. Additionally, it has 14 pairs of ribs that protect vital organs such as the lungs and heart.

What Other Features Make Up a Hedgehog’s Skeleton?

In addition to these 206 bones, there are several other features that make up a hedgehog’s skeleton. These include:

  • Cartilage: Cartilage is found in many areas of the body including the nose, ears and joints between bones. It provides cushioning to help prevent friction between moving parts.
  • Claws: Hedgehogs have five claws on each foot which they use for digging burrows or climbing over obstacles.
  • Spines: Spines cover most of their bodies except for their face, feet, belly and tail. They provide protection from predators by making them difficult to grab or bite.

The Skeletal Structure of Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are small, insectivorous mammals that have a distinctive spiny coat. Their skeletal structure is adapted to their nocturnal lifestyle and helps them move quickly through thick undergrowth in search of food.


Hedgehog’s bodies are made up of 206 bones, including the skull, vertebrae, ribs, sternum, forelimbs and hind limbs. The skeleton provides support and protection for the internal organs while also allowing movement.


The hedgehog’s skull consists of six bones: two frontal bones which form the forehead; two parietal bones which make up the sides; one occipital bone at the back; and one temporal bone on each side. These bones give structural support to the head and protect the brain from damage.


Hedgehog’s spinal cord runs through its vertebral column. This is composed of seven cervical (neck), thirteen thoracic (chest) and four lumbar (lower back) vertebrae along with additional sacral (hip) and caudal (tail) vertebrae.


Unlike humans who have 12 pairs of ribs forming a protective cage around their lungs, hedgehog rib structures vary significantly between species. Some species may only have five or six pairs while others can have up to eight or nine pairs.


The sternum is a long flat bone located just behind the ribcage in many mammals including hedgehogs. It acts as an anchor point for muscles used in breathing as well as helping to provide protection for major organs such as heart and lungs.

Counting the Ribs of a Hedgehog

Rib counting is an important part of assessing the health and wellbeing of a hedgehog. A healthy hedgehog will have between 38-41 ribs, depending on its size.

Steps for Counting the Ribs of a Hedgehog

  • Inspect: Begin by inspecting your hedgehog to look for any abnormalities in its appearance. Check for signs of disease or parasites, such as mites or fleas.
  • Prepare: Place your hedgehog onto a flat surface and carefully restrain it so that it cannot move around too much during the examination.
  • Examine: Using your fingers, gently feel along each side of the spine from head to tail. You should be able to feel individual bones (the ribs) that run alongside the spine.
  • Count: Count how many ribs are present on each side, noting any discrepancies between sides. The total number should be between 38-41.
  • Repeat: If there is any doubt about accuracy, repeat steps 2-4 until you are sure you have counted correctly.

The Number of Spines on a Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are covered in spines, which help protect them from predators. The number of spines on an individual hedgehog can range anywhere from 500 to 7,000 depending on the species. These spines are made up of keratin, just like human hair and fingernails.

Types of Spines

There are two types of spines found on hedgehogs: guard hairs and quills. Guard hairs make up the majority of the spines and are long (up to 2 inches) but not very sharp compared to quills. Quills are shorter than guard hairs (only 1 inch) but much sharper and can be used as a defense mechanism when threatened.

Spine Coloration

The coloration of hedgehog’s spines varies by species. Common colors include brown, black, white, gray, yellow and even pink! Some species also have stripes or spotted patterns that add to their unique appearance.

Fun Facts about Spines

  • Hedgehog’s spines act as insulation against cold weather conditions.
  • When scared or threatened, a hedgehog will roll into a tight ball with its head tucked in between its legs – this is how it protects itself using its quills.
  • Hedgehog’s quills don’t typically break off easily so they last a long time without needing to be replaced.


In conclusion, hedgehogs have a total of around 4,000 to 5,000 bones in their bodies. They have an exoskeleton made up of spines and quills which provide protection from predators. Hedgehogs also possess several other unique skeletal features such as fused vertebrae and flexible forelimbs that enable them to curl up into a ball for defense. With so many bones in its body, the hedgehog is truly one of nature’s most fascinating creatures!


  • Frederick

    Frederick Faunce is an experienced and passionate hedgehog writer, blogger, and researcher. He has dedicated his life to understanding the conservation and care of hedgehogs, and is committed to educating and inspiring others to do the same.

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