HEDGEHOG

From Agepedia

Jump to: navigation , search

HEDGEHOG (erinaceus, Lin.). These quadrupeds are distinguished by having the body covered with spines, instead of hair. The skin of the back is provided with muscles, which enable the animal to roll itself up in the form of a ball. The tail is very short, and the feet furnished with five toes. There appear to be but two species well ascertained; the third, given by Desmarest, being founded on a short description by Seba, which may possibly belong to an animal of another genus. The best known is the commor? hedgehog (E. Europ&us), a native of most of the temperate parts of Europe and asia. This species has a long nose, the nostrils bordered on each side by a loose flap; the ears are short, rounded, naked and dusky ; the upper part of the face, sides and rump covered with strong, coarse hair, of a yellowish ash color, the back with sharp, strong spines, of a whitish tint, with a bar of black through their middle. They are usually about 10 inches long, the tail about one. Their usual residence is in small thickets, and they feea on fallen fruits, roots and insects ; they are also fond of flesh, either raw or roasted. Pallas remarks, that they can eat hundreds of cantharicles, without suffering from them, whilst a single one of these acrid insects will cause the most horrible torments in dogs or cats. It has been asserted, that they mount fruittrees, and come down with apples, pears, &c, stuck upon their bristles. This is equally false with the imputation that they suck cows, and injure their udders. Mr .White observes, that the manner in which they eat the roots of the plantain is very curious. With their upper mandible, which is much longer than the lower, they bore under the plant, and gnaw off the root upwards, leaving the tuft of leaves untouched. The hedge hog defends himself from the attacks of other animals by rolling himself up, and thus exposing no part of his body that is not furnished with a defence of spines. It may be rendered domestic to a certain degree, and has been employed in Europe to destroy cockroaches, which it pursues with avidfry. In the winter, the hedgehog wraps itself up in a warm nest, composed of moss, dried hay and leaves, and remain? torpid till the return of spring. The fe mate produces four or five young.,at a birth, which soon become covered with prickles. These animals are sometimes used as food, and are said to be very delicate. The skin was formerly used for the purpose of napping cloths. The longeared hedgehog [E. auriius) is smaller than the common, and is distinguished by the greatsize of its ears; in its manners, it is said to be similar to that species. The female produces twice each year, having six or seven young at a birth. This species inhabits from' the northern part of the Caspian sea to Egypt.