Beast

Hedgehog


Latin name: Herinacius
Other names: Echinus, Ericio, Eriçon, Heriçon, Hericus, Heris on

A beast that carries away grapes on its sharp quills

General Attributes

The hedgehog has the appearance of a young pig, but is entirely covered with sharp spines or quills, which protect it from danger. When it is time for the harvest, the hedgehog goes into a vineyard, and climbing up a vine, shakes the grapes off onto the ground. It then rolls around on the fallen grapes to spear them with its quills, so it can carry the fruit home to feed its young. (Some say that the fruit the hedgehog carries away is the apple or fig.) A cooked hedgehog can be used to make medicine. When the hedgehog notices the approach of a man, it rolls itself into a ball so its spines protect it, and creaks like a cart to fool the man. Hedgehogs can detect the direction the wind is blowing from; when the wind comes from the north, the hedgehog closes the north hole of its lair.

Sources

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 56): To prepare for winter, hedgehogs roll on fallen apples to stick them to their spines, then taking one or more in their mouths, carry the load to hollow trees. Hedgehogs foretell a change in wind direction from north to south when they retire to their lairs. When hunted, they roll up into a ball so that it is not possible to pick them up without touching their spines.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 3:7): The hedgehog is covered with quills, which it stiffens when threatened, and rolling itself into a ball is thus protected on all sides. After it cuts a bunch of grapes off a vine it rolls over them so it can carry the grapes to its young on its quills.