Sources : Hedgehog

Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus, Book 3, 10.3; 9, 7.5): [Boo 3, 10.3] It is the nature of hair to split; and different kinds of hair are dissimilar in excess and deficiency; some are so changed by harshness as to bear slight resemblance to hair, and are more like spines, as in the hedgehog, wherein they resemble nails. [Book 9, 7.5 ] Observations have been frequently made on the instinct of the hedgehog, for when the north and south winds change, those that dwell in the earth alter the position of the entrance of their burrows; those which are kept in houses alter their position from wall to wall, so that they say that in Byzantium there was a person who obtained the character of predicting the change of the weather, from observations made on the hedgehog. - [Cresswell translation, 1887]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 56): Hedgehogs also prepare food for winter, fixing fallen apples on their spines by rolling on them and holding one more in their mouth carry them to hollow trees. The same animals foretell a change of wind from North to South by retiring to their lair. But when they perceive someone hunting them they draw together their mouth and feet and all their lower part, which has thin and harmless down on it, and roll up into the shape of a ball, so that it may not be possible to take hold of any part ofthem except the prickles. But when desperate they make water over themselves, which corrodes their hide and damages their spines, for the sake of which they know that people catch them. Hence the scientific way is to hunt them just after they have discharged their water. And then the hide is of particular value, whereas otherwise it is spoiled and fragile, with the spines rotting and faliing out, even if the animal escapes by flight and lives. On this account it does not drench itself with this damaging stuff except as a last resort, since even the creatures themselves hate this self-poisoning, sparing themselves and waiting for the final limit so long that usually capture overtakes them beforehand. Afterwards the ball into which they roll up can be made to unroll by a sprinkle of hot water, and to fasten them up by one of the hind feet kills them through starvation when hanging: it is not possible to kill them in any other way and avoid damaging the hide. The animal itself is not, as most of us think, superfluous for the life of mankind, since, if it had not spines, the softness of the hides in cattle would have been bestowed on mortals to no purpose: hedgehog skin is used in dressing cloth for garments. Even here fraud has discovered a great source of profit by monopoly, nothing having been the subject of more frequent legislation by the senate, and every emperor without exception having been approached by complaints from the provinces. - [Rackham translation]

Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 3, 10): Nature has made the hedgehog prudent and experienced in providing for its own wants. Thus, since it needs food to last a whole year, and since every season does not yield produce, it rolls among fig-crates (they say), and such dried figs as are pierced - a great number become fixed upon its prickles - it quietly removes, and after laying up a store, keeps them and can draw from its nest when it is impossible to obtain food out of doors. - [Scholfield translation]

Saint Ambrose [4th century CE] (Hexameron, Book 6, 4.20): Hedgehogs, commonly called iricei, on sensing the approach of danger, 'gather themselves behind their shields' so that anyone who has in mind to harm them may be wounded by their prickly armor. In anticipation of eventualities, these animals are provided with two organs of respiration. For example, then they sense the coming of northerly winds, they close the aperture open to the north. When they note that the clouds have been cleared away by the south wind, they turn toward the north so as to avoid the harmful breezes coming from the opposite direction. - [Savage translation, 1961]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 3:7): The hedgehog [ericium] is an animal covered with quills, from which it is said to be named because it stiffens [subrigere] itself up with its quills when it is cornered; with these quills it is protected on all sides against attack. Immediately when it senses something it first stiffens itself up and, turning itself into a ball, covers itself with its own shield of quills. This animal has a certain cleverness, for when it has plucked a grape from the vine, it rolls itself backwards over it and in this way takes it to its offspring. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Aberdeen Bestiary [circa 1200 CE] (folio 24r-24v): The hedgehog is covered in prickles. From this it gets its name, because it bristles, when it is enclosed in its prickles and is protected by them on all sides against attack. For as soon as it senses anything, it first bristles then, rolling itself into a ball, regains its courage behind its armor. The hedgehog has a certain kind of foresight: as it tears off a grape, it rolls backwards on it and so delivers it to its young. It is also called echinus, urchin. This 'urchin', thinking ahead, protects itself with twin ventilation ducts, so that when it thinks that the north wind is about to blow, it blocks the northern one, and when it knows that the south wind is giving warning of mist in the air, it goes to the northern passage to avoid the vapors blown from the opposite direction, which will do it harm.

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Quadrupeds 4.39): Erinacius, as the Glossa says, is a spiny animal, having the form of a pig . Furthermore, the belly is closed everywhere within spines. For as soon as it sees something threatening, it first braces itself, then turns itself into a ball and gathers its legs together. Hence it happens that it makes itself difficult to be seen and touched, but this is known by cunning. It is thrown into hot water, by which it is at once causes the flat expansion of its spines, so that it can be seen and touched uninjured. In providing for the future it secures two ways of breathing, so that when it sees the North wind is about to blow, it will block the North. But when it knows that the mists of the air are removed, it turns itself to the north, that it might meet the blasts, and avoid those who might hurt it from that side. Ambrose relates this in the Hexameron. Erinacius, as Aristotle says, hears better than any animal that has a skull in its head; for the sound is heard from the results which take place in the skull. For the nature of the hedgehog's hair is intermediate, as Aristotle says, between the hard nature - that is, the crab - and the soft - this is the nature of the hare or the like. Ericius has five teeth, and between them a fleshy member. It uses spines instead of weapons like cattle horns. The Experimentator says that the nourishment of the hedgehog's body passes into the spines because of the scarcity of heat, and because the food is not digested, a great deal of superfluity is generated in their bodies, from which spines are generated, hard as stones, and this because of their great coldness. The flesh of the hedgehog has a drying and dissolving power; it properly strengthens the stomach, loosens the bowels, and provokes urination; it is useful to those who are disposed to elephantine leprosy. Ericius is rich in medicinal properties. It is skinned like a young pig. Only the hedgehog has two anuses, through which it emits feces. All four-footed breeding animals have testicles in the front part except the hedgehog, whose testicles are close to the kidneys, like birds. Pliny: When it is hunted and in despair of escape, it produces urine on itself which is so poisonous to its back and spines, that even if it escapes, it can scarcely live because of the rotten spines. The hunters know this, and so pursue it after it has urinated in the morning. In ancient times clothes were used to be made with its spines. Isidore: Its prudence is also like this: at the time of the harvest it climbs the vine and shakes the grapes, so that the bunches fall to the ground. When they are gathered together, it rolls itself over them. Then it carries the fruit to its offspring embedded on its spines. This is also said to do with the apples of the trees. As Pliny says, the burnt ashes of the hedgehog, mixed with pitch, restore the hairs of a scar. Aristotle: the male erinacius copulates with a female while standing, pressed and united to each other, and this because of the stings of the spines that are on its back; for if they came together from behind, they would prick each other with spines. Behold, therefore, the miracle of nature, which provides comfort to every one. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book18.61; 18.62): [Book 18.61] The Irchin is called Hiricus, and is a beast covered with pricks, hard and sharpe, and his skinne is cloased about with pikes and prickes, and hée cloaseth himselfe therwith, and defendeth himselfe therewith all about, for anone as he knoweth and féeleth that anye thing commeth after him, he areareth up the pricks and wrappeth him therein as a clew, as it were within his armour: and is a beast of purveyaunce: For he climbeth upon a vine or on an apple trée, & shaketh downe grapes and Apples. And when they bée feld, he walloweth on them, & sticketh his pricks in them, and so beareth meat to his young in that manner wise, as Isi[dore] saith, li. 12. And for roughnesse & sharpnesse of the pricks & pikes, he is called Hirenacius or Hiricius, and hath as Aristotle saith, li. 1. pikes in stéed of haire: and piks héeleth him as the haire of other beasts, and be his weapon and armour: for with them he stingeth & pricketh and hurteth him that taketh or toucheth him. Also li. 3. Aristotle saith, yt some Irchins dwell in woods, & some in other places in land, & some in water, & lay many egs that be not eaten. And Irchins have but lyttle flesh, and this is the propertye of him, hée hath beneath head and mouth, and outpassing of superfluitye above, for hée taketh his meate beaneth, and hath therefore an hoale in the other side, and the superfluitye is in the ridge above, and the Irchin hath five téeth within the mouth, and hath amonge the téeth fleshy parts in stéed of the tongue: & his wombe is departed in five parts, & therin is much superfluitie. [Here Bartholomaeus may have confused the accounts of the sea-urchin with the hedgehog.] And there is a manner kind of Irchins with a white shell & white pikes, and layeth many egges. Also the Irchin hath feeble hearing, more feeble then other beasts with hard shells, and that goe on foure féete. Also libro. 5. wilde Irchins gender standing, with back turned to backe: For in that part, in yt which superfluitie passeth out, there they touch themselves in generation. Also there li. 8. it is said, yt often it séemeth, that in Irchins is wit and knowing of co¯ming of winds, North or South: for he maketh a den in the ground, when he is ware that such windes come. And so sometime was one in Constantinople, yt had an Irchin, and knew & warned therby, that windes shoulde come, & of what side, and none of his neighbours wist whereby he had such knowledge & warning. Also li. 12. he sayth, that the Irchin hath also as many wombes as téeth, and in these wombes bréedeth five egges better then other, and the egges of some bee much and greate, and some be lesse: for some bée better to séething and defieng then other. Also li. 19. Irchins have a little body and many pikes, that, occupye more place then the bodye, and the cause of many great prickes, & the littlenesse of the body is, for féeding of the bodye passeth into nourishing and growing of pikes, because of scarcity of heat, & for the meat is not well defied, & therfore in his bodye breedeth much superfluity, & that superfluity passeth into nourishing & feeding of prickes. Huc usque Arist[totle] [Book 18.62] Herinacius is that same Cirogrillus [a name usually used for the squirrel], & is a little beast with prickes, and dwelleth in dens, and is lyke to the Irchin, but he is accounted more then he. Lib. 8. cap. 38. Plinius speaketh of him and sayth, that hée walloweth uppon apples, as the Irchin doeth, which sticke thereon his prickes, and he beareth them into hallownesse of trées. And beside the Apples that he beareth on his backe, alway he beareth one in his mouth: & when he is hunted, he cloaseth him rounde as a hall, for nothing should him touch for his pikes and prickes, and when he trusteth not to scape, then hée casteth from him pissing most venimous, & that pisse grieveth himselfe first, if it co¯meth in any wise on his back, or on his pricks, for by such moisture of that pisse, his back smarteth and grieveth, & also the prickes of his backe fall away. Therfore he knoweth not, yt he is thereby the sooner taken, by the which hée casteth for to grieve other: Therefore there is a craft to hunt such a little beast, when his urine is all spent and wasted, for then his backe is hurt or broken, and his pricks and pikes be loose and fall, and he may not flie, for be knoweth by the smell kindlye, in his urine is strength of venim hid, & spareth therfore his urine. For he doth not away nor sheddeth his venim, ere the last néede of taking compell him thereto. And though this beast be little, yet when he dreadeth he constraineth himselfe so fast, that unneth he may be opened and streighted, saving the skinne. Therofore he is put in hot water, and so he openeth himselfe, as it were sodeinly, when hée feeleth the heate: And he is bounte and hanged up by the hinder feete, and is so hanged and slayne with hunger, otherwise hée maye not be slaine in good manner, to have good and profite of his féeble skinne, & though the little body of the beast be not full necessary to use of mankinde, yet his skin yt is so picked is needfull to men, that if there were no pikes and pricks, softnesse of flesh in beasts were idle to mankinde. For with such a beasts skinnes, clothes be cleansed & picked. And it is said, that this beast Herinacius hath this property, that after yt he is charged with Grapes or with apples, if any apple or grape fall out of his pikes in any maner wise, then for indignation he throweth away of his backe all the other deale, and oft turneth agayne to the trée to charge him agayne with new charge. - [Batman]