Spikes, ranging from spines to quills, serve as protective adaptations in animals from hedgehogs to lionfish across diverse habitats. These features deter predators, ensuring the survival and thriving of these species in the wild.
Throughout the animal kingdom, spikes serve multifaceted purposes, from defense mechanisms to hunting tools. Their presence across diverse species underscores their evolutionary importance and the varied advantages they offer in different environments.
Hedgehogs (Erinaceinae) are small spikey mammals that are found in parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Their spikes are made out of keratin, the same component of human fingernails and hair.
These animals use their spikes for protection against predators. When they feel threatened, they will curl up into a tight ball, with their face and belly well-protected by the spikes.
Porcupines are rodents with sharp semi-rigid quills that cover their body. The quills of a porcupine can grow up to 3 inches in length. These animals use quills for self-defense and protection.
It is portrayed that porcupines can shoot their quills at predators, but this is not true. When the quills penetrate the skin of a predator, they easily detach from the porcupine’s body and remain in the skin of the predator. This will cause great discomfort to the predator and may even lead to death.
3. Old World Porcupines
Old-world porcupines (Hystricidae) are found in Southeast Asia, Africas, India, and some parts of Southern Europe. They have longer and thicker quills compared to other porcupines.
These quills are dark-colored with light tips and are used for self-defense. As herbivores, they mainly feed on fruits, bark, roots, and farmed crops.
Echidnas are also known as ‘spiny anteaters,’ and are found in Australia and New Guinea. These animals have a platypus-like body, a long snout, and a tongue that they use to feed on ants and termites, but they are not closely related to the original anteaters in the Americas.
They have a coat of sharp spines that protect them from predators. They have short limbs and sharp claws that enable them to dig.
5. Thorny Dragon
The thorny dragon has other names such as the ‘Thorny Devil’, ‘Thorny Lizard’ and ‘Mountain Devil.’ It is found in dry parts of Australia. This animal is covered in sharp conical spines that help to protect it from predators.
The Thorny Dragon has the ability to change the color of its body to match the colors of its surroundings. This camouflage technique helps the Thorny Dragon to avoid being noticed by predators.
6. Sea Urchins
Sea urchins are spiky, round animals that live in the sea. Their sharp spikes keep them safe from other animals that might want to eat them.
They live at the bottom of the ocean and can grow as big as four inches. They eat things like seaweed and tiny sea plants. Sea urchins have a special mouth with five teeth to help them eat their food.
The porcupinefish is a fish that is commonly called blowfish, globefish, or balloonfish. It has the ability to inflate its body by swallowing water or air when it feels threatened.
This inflation makes the fish look bigger and also aids in deterring predators. Plus their sharp spines provide an extra layer of protection.
8. Crown-of-thorns Starfish
As one of the largest starfish in the world, the crown-of-thorns starfish can grow up to 21 inches and has about 21 arms. Being fully-spiked starfish, they are named after the spike-like structures that cover their upper surface. These spines contain a venom that can cause great pain to predators and humans.
9. Armadillo-Girdled Lizard
The armadillo-girdled lizard is a lizard that is found in South Africa. These lizards get their name from the ring of horny scales that surround their body, which resemble an armadillo’s armor.
Their color ranges from light brown to dark brown and can grow up to 3.5 inches in snout-vent length. The scales are sharp and help to protect the lizard from predators.
The lionfish is a fish that is found in the Indo-Pacific region. Also known as ‘firefish,’ ‘tastyfish,’ ‘turkey fish,’ and ‘butterfly cod,’ it has long fins that are covered with venomous spines. These spines are used to deter predators and to kill prey.
The lionfish is a carnivore fish and feeds on small fish and invertebrates. As skilled predators, they are known to blow water toward their prey in order to disorient them. This allows the predator to then stun their prey and quickly capture them with their mouth.
Spikes are important for the defense of certain animals. These features have helped them to avoid being eaten by predators and have also helped them to kill their prey. Spikes help to keep these animals safe and allow them to thrive in the wild. Some of these animals might look harmless, but be careful! Their spikes can give you a nasty sting!