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Ihr Willi Igel
The Gaelic for hedgehog is Grainneog, or 'Horrible
One'. Hedgehogs are not horrible at all, of course - they
are, in point of fact, lovely - but they are certainly
mysterious animals, little studied and widely mis-
understood. Here is a selection of the not-very-much
known about them.
Humans (and not only those who live in
caravans) have always eaten the 'hedge-pig' or
furze pig. It is a free source of white meat thats
relatively easy to catch. One account, published
in 1699, recounts how the moors of West
Barbary went about it: "The hedgehog is a
princely dish among them, and before they kill
him they rub his back against the ground by
holding its feet betwixt two, as men do a saw that
saws stone, till it has done squeaking; then they
cut its throat, and with a knife cut of all its spines
and singe it. They take out its guts, stuff the
body with some rice, sweet herbs, garavancas,
spice, and onions; they put some butter and
garavancas into the water they stew it in, and let
it stew in a little pot, close stopped, till it is
enough, and it proves an excellent dish."
mystery of all
must surely be
- what on earth
are they doing
They are rarely seen in
December and have no
with the Christian
nativity story, or
with any other
they're there simply
because they're lovely.
And not horrible.
... due to the baffling belief that they stole milk
from cows. Boys were encouraged to present
severed hedgehog-heads to church wardens for a
bounty of fourpence each; the rest of the animal
could be eaten. One historian has estimated that
from 1560 to 1800, 14,000 hogs a year died this way.
Horrible! (Mind you, 15,000 are killed on the roads
Everyone knows that hedgehogs
hibernate in winter, but they dont
actually need to.
If there's food available,
they'll stay active.
New Zealand hedgehogs
dont hibernate at all
and in Britain hibernation
is becoming shorter
(and rarer) because
of mild winters.
the killing heat
by aestivating -
that is, hibernating
during the summer.
Between 1566 and 1853,
hedgehogs were legally
classed as vermin...
If a hedgehog is attacked, the first
thing it'll do is frown. Its frowning
muscle - the panniculus carno-
sus - runs all the way from its
forehead to its tailbone. This
contracts in 0,01 of a
second, pulling its whole
body in an almost
impregnable ball. Rolling
up completely is something
hedgehogs dont often do.
More usually, they just tuck
their heads in and hunch their
prickles over to protect their faces.
At the Rocky Mountain Hedgehog Show in Denver,
Colorado, quiet, calm hedgehogs tend to win the prizes.
Sadly, the quieter the hog, the more likely it is to suffer
from Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome, which is similar to
Multiple Sclerosis in humans.
By selecting hogs that behave
well for the show judges,
pet owners have unwittingly
created a population
unique prone to
this fatal and
African Pygmy hedgehogs are the
only kind known in the USA, and then
only as pets. At the international
hedgehog Olympic Games, spectators
practice "silent cheering" - waving
their hands in the air by way of
applause - so as not to startle the
...instead of rolling up. Hedgehog expert Pat Morris
has shown that it is quite pointless a running hog
is mathematically more likely than a stationary one
to come under a vehicle's wheels.
Another myth is that hedgehogs are evolving to run
away from cars...
A persistent myth about
hedgehogs is that if you
remove their fleas, they'll
die. In truth, they'll
probably won't notice -
they're indifferent to even
the heaviest infestations.
Since hedgehog fleas
cannot live on humans,
cats, dogs or any other
species, there seems no
reason to inconvenience
either the hedgehogs or
Igel-Cartoons, Games und Videos (Intro)
Hedgehogs need open spaces to feed
in. The Golden Age of the hedgehog
in Britain began with the coming of
the Romans - who first used hedges
to divide fields - and lasted till after
the Second World War, when
intensive farming ripped hedges out
to increase field sizes.