In the deserts of Africa hedgehogs feed on scorpions.

There are also hedgehogs native to Europe, who eat bugs and vegetables and fruit.

Hedgehogs are omnivorous - some egg, some mealworms, a little fruit, some cheese, "yumm yumm!" said the hedgehog.

Apparently quite little is known about hedgehogs, scientifically speaking. Which is suprising considering they are immune to poisons which can kill humans in an instant.

There is also relatively little known about the behaviors of hedgehogs. For instance it has been found that their quills can be mildly poisonious. It has also been observed that hedgehogs will sometimes foam at the mouth while eating certain odd things and then spread the foam across their quills with their tongues.

Is the poison found on their spikes from lathering up with poison from their food (such as scorpions), or is the poison naturally found in the hedgehog? Is it even true that the spikes are poisonous?

Hedgehogs are damn interesting animals who we could learn a lot from.
The "Hedgehog" is a world war vintage anti-submarine weapon. In World War I German U-boats found that the safest place to be is just below the surface directly ahead of a destroyer. The destroyer captains were instructed to avout rammming U-boats because of the damage caused to the ship. Oh, sure the U-boat was finished but the destroyer was also at risk. So the U-boat captains found that by staying just ahead of the destroyer they would not be rammed and the deck guns were ineffective. We needed a new weapon. Enter the Hedgehog.

The Hedgehog was mounted on the bow of a destroyer. It was a series of specialized depth charges that were launched in front of the ship. About 30 were fired at once, on the front of each warhead was a contact trigger. When the warhead bumped into something, like the hull of a sub, the explosives would detonate. (Push button, will explode). The projectiles were also equiped with a standard pressure trigger. When the reached a given depth (50 ft.) they would explode.

This weapon forced to U-Boat captains to alter their tactics.v\

Back to Jane's Military History Nodes

The Hedgehog is the name of a well-known opening strategy for Austria-Hungary in the Diplomacy board game. It became known to the public in November 1976, when Richard Sharp published an article describing it in a Diplomacy magazine.

As most veteran Diplomacy players will agree, Austria-Hungary is infamous for being eliminated early in the game. The premise of the Hedgehog is that because of this tendency for fast death, Austria's primary goal is to defend itself. The Hedgehog strategy leaves Austria in a good defensive position, even if any of its neighbors should try to attack. Richard Sharp felt that the Hedgehog could ensure the survival of Austria until 1903, and that by that time one could engage in sufficient diplomacy to arrange further survival.

The Hedgehog strategy only dictates the very first set of orders submitted. There are a number of variations on it, each with their own name:

The "Classic" Hedgehog

This was the original Hedgehog strategy outlined in Sharp's article. His only dissatisfaction with it was with the army in Budapest. Russia almost always orders its unit in Sevastopol to Rumania, which would mean that the army in Budapest would not be able to move into Rumania. Thus he invented...

The Southern Hedgehog

This was also suggested in Sharp's article. He altered the Budapest order, instead moving the army to Serbia. This move is guaranteed to succeed, because no other country can reach that territory on the first turn. This was Richard Sharp's preferred opening for Austria.

The Great Northern Hedgehog (aka Hedgehog, Alpine Variation)

Also outlined in Sharp's article, this strategy was not recommended. He offered it up, but then dismissed it as leaving Austria to open to attack from Italy and/or Russia.

The Turkish Hedgehog (aka Sharp's Opening or Soak's Bane)

The Turkish Hedgehog was published by Nicholas Whyte in October 1985. Turkey doesn't really need a hedgehog strategy, at least in the sense that they have no worries of early elimination. Turkey is one of the most difficult countries to eliminate, due to their defensible position in the corner of the board. In fact, this strategy really does not have much in common with the Austrian Hedgehog, save the name, which Whyte probably chose solely for recognition purposes.

Other Hedgehogs

Perusing through the openings library on, I found a few other Hedgehog openings that I had not heard of before, all of which were named by Richard Sharp:

Hedgehog, Porcupine Variation

Hedgehog, Dead Porcupine Variation

Hedehog, Fisher's Folly Variation

Not Everyone Likes Hedgehogs...

Prior to Sharp's 1976 article, the Hedgehog opening had rarely been used. According to Sharp, in the 313 postal Diplomacy games he had on record, the Hedgehog had only been tried 3 times and the Southern Hedgehog had been tried 4 times. Almost three years later, an April 1980, Richard Hucknall published an article discussing the Hedgehog opening. At that time, Hucknall reported that the Hedgehog opening had become so popular that it was the standard Austrian opening. After having seen it in action many times, Hucknall concluded that it was not a favorable opening after all. It was too warlike, and it limited how much the Austrian player could gain. Hucknall argued that Austria would be better off securing diplomatic agreements with its neighbors, rather than assuming they would all be attacking. Only as a last resort should the Hedgehog be used, argued Hucknall.


The Hedgehog variations are still employed today, in all of their forms, although some are more popular than others. In a debate of opening strategies for Diplomacy, rarely is there a definitive final word.

To learn more about the Hedgehog, I suggest the following sources. I consulted them during the creation of this writeup.


Some weeks ago, in the evening, I was standing at the bus stop. That particular bus stop is situated next to the back wall of a gymnasium. Some bushes grow along the wall, the bus stop is no more than a sign standing on the pavement. I was too early for the bus. It was already dark and the street was quiet, just someone cycling by now and then. I was enjoying the quiet.

Then, from the bushes behind me, I heard rustling. It sounded like a big animal, a dog perhaps, coming toward me. Only those bushes are way too low and thick to contain a dog. It was no dog. It was a hedgehog.

Now hedgehogs are noisy animals. They blunder through the undergrowth, snorting along, stamping their feet. It seems like they think, hey, it doesn't matter how much noise I make, I've got spines on my back, nobody better mess with me. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they think the same thing about cars. Then they are wrong...

So this hedgehog was coming in my direction. At first it stayed mostly under the bushes, but the nearer it got, the farther onto the pavement it went. I stood very still, not wanting to frighten it away. I though that when the hedgehog would get really near, it would make a detour around my feet. It didn't. When it had gotten to within half a meter of me, it walked out onto the pavement and sat next to my feet. It stayed there for at least a minute, staring at my shoes. It was probably trying to decide whether they were edible or not. After a while it decided my feet weren't all that interesting after all and it walked away. Then the bus came.

Hedgehogs are strange animals.

Hedgehogs: endearing little spiny things that shuffle around undergrowth, are invariably full of fleas, and used to confound our dog because she would want to play with them and they would curl up into a protective ball. However, it would appear that their cute nature, flea infestation, and protective spines have done little to deter the human population from eating them. I was recently sifting through recipes in the British Library, most of which were for hare, pigeon, and rabbit — essentially anything that could be trapped or caught in the British countryside — when I stumbled across a method for preparing hedgehog. I was intrigued, not least because it occurs to me that the nutritional benefits to be gained from a hedgehog are probably outweighed by the energy expended to prepare it. Yet it would seem that hedgehog has been included in the human diet for thousands of years, and as a consequence there are numerous recipes for it.

Perhaps most well-known recipe for hedgehog involves encasing the beast in mud and baking it in an oven or open fire. Whether or not this will amount to the tastiest hedgehog I couldn't possibly comment, as far I can tell there isn't much opportunity for seasoning and judging if the meat is rare, medium, or well-done is all but impossible, but it is probably the most efficient method. The spines will be baked into the mud and will pull away from the flesh when the mud is cracked off. The same method can also be applied to game birds, if you don't need the feathers for pillow-stuffing or quilting. Of course, you will need a ready supply of mud, as well as hedgehogs.

There is archaeological evidence for hedgehog consumption since about 6,000 BCE in the British Isles. However, ancient cooks probably wouldn't have used the mud method, but would have wrapped the hedgehog in grass to bake it. This tradition continues today: hams can be cooked in hay. (And it is no surprise how the hedgehog got its name: it is supposed to taste similar to pork.)

For the medieval cook, the preferred method of hedgehog preparation was to truss it, just as one would a bird, and then roast it. The meat would then be served with a rich sauce or in pastry. In the case of petulent hedgehog that refuses to unroll, cooks from the Middle Ages passed on the useful tip to drop it into hot water. So now we know.

The recipe that caught my eye, however, was found in a book called Medicines, Music and Meals by Robert Dawson. This one says to remove the spines with a sharp knife, cut along the backbone, remove the heart, liver, and kidneys, and wash the animal. The guts can be eaten, but by all accounts they taste vile — to the extent that even dogs won't touch them — so perhaps it is best not to. Wrap the hedgehog in foil and bake in a slow-to-medium oven for two hours before serving as you would any other meat. That sounds fairly straight forward, doesn't it? Sure beats another method that entails inserting a straw into the poor animal's rectum and blowing (for heaven's sake don't suck!), which allegedly results in tender meat that comes away from the skin more easily. I can't vouch for this method's efficacy — and even if I could, I'm not sure I'd admit to it — but if you can, please do let me know.

The chances of me trying any of these recipes are slim to none; hedgehog isn't kosher and in the UK is a protected species so I'd be in double-trouble. However, I have it on good authority that the flavour of hedgehog resembles chicken leg meat. I'm far from tempted, though, even by the possibility of hedgehog carbonara. Mrs Tiggy-Winkle remains safe in my presence.

Scratching in the undergrowth

Ah, hedgehogs. I recall being 15 and reading online about the possibility of keeping them as pets and being beside myself with excitement. I had recently repaired and sold a laptop, leaving me with around $200 to spend however I pleased. A local pet shop happened to have exactly one hedgehog left in stock from a local breeder, for the price of $150 (to those living in the UK, spending that much money on such a common animal may seem absurd. However, hedgehogs are exotic pets in the USA).

I had read extensively about caring for my new pet before I spent my hard earned money on it. I quickly learned how much more valuable real experience is when caring for pets. Here are some of the most important lessons I learned, so that you can hopefully make an informed decision before deciding to purchase one of these little guys:

Hedgehogs are not for those with low self esteem.

Hedgehogs have a natural reaction to danger wherein their spines stand up and turn rigid. This is known as huffing, popping, or bristling ("huffing" because the little fella will also begin breathing rapidly through his nose; the noise is disorienting to predators. "Popping" because these spines will erect themselves VERY quickly). Although your hedgie is not doing this because he hates you (hopefully), it is very disheartening when, after weeks of showering love and care upon your new pet, you still find yourself unable to even pet it, much less cuddle or play with it. Over time, this behavior can be trained out of your hedgie, but many new owners find themselves unable to deal with what they see as their pet rejecting them. This usually results in the hedgie being sent to yet another home, scaring and making it even more uncomfortable. If you lack the patience or the self esteem to deal with this, then consider another pet.

Hedgehog spines hurt.

Hedgehog spines are actually rather soft when lowered. When provoked by just about anything, however, your hedgie will huff, erecting his spines. Evolution has imbued hedgehogs with a mild irritant that coats the tips of their spines. When pricked with one, the skin around the affected area will tingle and burn slightly from anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on how deep the wound is. Unfortunately, hedgehogs rely primarily on smell, having terrible vision. Accordingly, your hedgehog will identify you by scent rather than sight, so he will need to become accustomed to your smell, meaning you will eventually need to use your bare hands to handle him. If you have a job that requires your hands to be kept in pristine condition, or if you just have tender hands, consider another pet.

Your hedgehog can be messy.

Hedgehogs are generally very clean animals. However, from time to time, you will find that your hedgie has become absolutely filthy. Hedgehogs are fascinating products of evolution; in the wild, hedgehogs have very few natural predators. This is due not only to their spines (capable of killing any large predators foolish enough to swallow it), but a unique ability known as annointing. Hedgehogs have extraordinary resistance to nearly every poison in the natural world. Thus, when a hedgehog comes across a poison in the wild, it will smell it to determine what it is, lick it, combine the poison with its saliva, froth at the mouth, and vomit the mixture onto its spines, resulting in a toxic hedgehog. In your case, though, annointing will likely come about as a result of your hedgehog encountering sweat, cologne, perfume, et al. Mine always did it after smelling my socks.

In addition to annointing, hedgehogs perform the same biological functions as every other pet. Provided your hedgehog is kept in a well ventilated pen/cage, urine will likely not be a problem. Hedgehog feces, on the other hand, are smelly and, when dried, attain the consistency of wet cement, requiring tremendous effort to remove. Adding to this is the fact that hedgehogs are notoriously difficult to potty train, having about a 50% success rate. Evolution has also imbued hedgehogs with a natural tendency to urinate and defecate while running; what this means for you is a lot of time spent cleaning your hedgie's wheel every morning. Failure to do this will result in the eventual formation of an unbearable cocktail of odors emanating from his cage and the accumulation of waste on his spines. This can be frustrating to clean, as you will have to give your hedgie a bath, a unique experience involving oil and a toothbrush. If you have a problem with cleaning up vast amounts of feces on a daily basis, consider another pet.

Having said all of this, I offer this disclaimer as well: if you have the patience to deal with all of the above, hedgehogs can be rewarding pets. Although they are solitary by nature, and bonding with one takes several months, the payoff is more than worth it; once you and your hedgie become friends, you'll have a pal for a long time to come.

Hedge"hog` (?), n.

1. (Zoöl.)

A small European insectivore (Erinaceus Europæus), and other allied species of Asia and Africa, having the hair on the upper part of its body mixed with prickles or spines. It is able to roll itself into a ball so as to present the spines outwardly in every direction. It is nocturnal in its habits, feeding chiefly upon insects.

2. (Zoöl.)

The Canadian porcupine.[U.S]

3. (Bot.)

A species of Medicago (M. intertexta), the pods of which are armed with short spines; -- popularly so called. Loudon.


A form of dredging machine. Knight.

Hedgehog caterpillar (Zoöl.), the hairy larvæ of several species of bombycid moths, as of the Isabella moth. It curls up like a hedgehog when disturbed. See Woolly bear, and Isabella moth. --
Hedgehog fish (Zoöl.), any spinose plectognath fish, esp. of the genus Diodon; the porcupine fish. --
Hedgehog grass (Bot.), a grass with spiny involucres, growing on sandy shores; burgrass (Cenchrus tribuloides). --
Hedgehog rat (Zoöl.), one of several West Indian rodents, allied to the porcupines, but with ratlike tails, and few quills, or only stiff bristles. The hedgehog rats belong to Capromys, Plagiodon, and allied genera. --
Hedgehog shell (Zoöl.), any spinose, marine, univalve shell of the genus Murex. --
Hedgehog thistle (Bot.), a plant of the Cactus family, globular in form, and covered with spines (Echinocactus). --
Sea hedgehog. See Diodon.


© Webster 1913

Hedge"hog`, n. (Elec.)

A variety of transformer with open magnetic circuit, the ends of the iron wire core being turned outward and presenting a bristling appearance, whence the name.


© Webster 1913

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