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Xu, H. Hedgehogs in Culture. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 08 December 2023).
Xu H. Hedgehogs in Culture. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed December 08, 2023.
Xu, Handwiki. "Hedgehogs in Culture" Encyclopedia, (accessed December 08, 2023).
Xu, H.(2022, October 31). Hedgehogs in Culture. In Encyclopedia.
Xu, Handwiki. "Hedgehogs in Culture." Encyclopedia. Web. 31 October, 2022.
Hedgehogs in Culture

Hedgehogs have appeared widely in popular and folk culture.

hedgehogs culture

1. Europe

As animals native to Europe and Africa, hedgehogs hold a place in European folklore.[1][2]

In most European countries, hedgehogs are believed to be a hard-working no-nonsense animal. This partially results from the folk belief that hedgehogs collect apples and mushrooms and carry them to their secret storage.

It is unclear exactly how old this belief is, though the Roman author Pliny the Elder mentions hedgehogs gathering grapes by this method in his Naturalis Historia. In medieval bestiaries and other illuminated manuscripts dating from at least the 13th century onwards, hedgehogs are shown rolling on and impaling fruit to carry back to their dens. In fact, however, hedgehogs do not gather food to store for later consumption, relying on their deposited fat to survive hibernation. Nor is apple included in their usual diet (it has been suggested, however, that the hedgehogs may use juice of wild apples in order to get rid of parasites, similar to anting). The image remains an irresistible one to modern illustrators. Therefore, hedgehogs are often portrayed carrying apples – partially, to make them look cuter.

Hedgehogs are often pictured as fond of milk; as late as the 19th century, some English villagers even believed that these creatures would suck milk out of cows' udders.[3] In reality, however, hedgehogs are lactose-intolerant.

Hedgehogs are also often seen in pictures with an autumn-themed background, since the animal hibernates in piles of leaves. This also adds to the cute reputation of hedgehogs. In Great Britain, however, the human habit of lighting bonfires to celebrate Bonfire Night on 5 November has led to an increased risk to hedgehogs, who often choose to sleep in the piles of wood accumulated in gardens and parks beforehand. Television messages now remind viewers who might be lighting bonfires to check them first for the presence of hibernating hedgehogs.

During the 1970s and 1980s, hedgehogs were one of the poster animals for environment activists through Europe. A lot of hedgehogs were killed by traffic, and since the hedgehog already had an aura of a cute little friendly animal, the choice was nearly perfect.

In a Veps legend, the (female) hedgehog appears in a creation myth. According to it, early on, there was no dry land; the entire world was just a big lake. It was a giant hedgehog who brought soil and sand with its needles, creating dry land.[1]

A hedgehog plays a role in a Lithuanian and Latvian creation story as well: when God made heaven and earth, he did not take good measurements, so the earth was made larger than the heaven; on the hedgehog's wise suggestion, God squeezed the earth, so that it would fit into the heaven. (In some version of the legend, the process of "shrinking" the earth resulted in the creation of mountain ranges). To reward the clever hedgehog, God equipped him with a suite of needles.[1] A similar legend is attested among the Banat Bulgarians and among Romanians as well.[2] [4]

The wisdom of the hedgehog is presented in other folk legend in the Balkans as well. In a Bulgarian legend, the Sun decided to marry the Moon, and invited all the animals to the wedding. The hedgehog was the only one who failed to appear. The Sun went to look for the hedgehog, and found him gnawing on a stone. When the Sun inquired what he was doing, the hedgehog explained: "I am learning to eat stones. Once you marry, you'll have many Sun children born to you, and when they all shine in the sky, everything will burn, and there will be nothing to eat". The Sun then decided to call off the wedding, and the world's inhabitants were saved from starvation.[2][5]

In the Balkan Slavic and Belarusian folklore, the wise hedgehog (along with the tortoise) sometimes appears as the animal capable of finding the raskovnik, a magic plant that could be used to open locks and to find hidden treasures.[2][4][6]

In a number of Balkan (Bulgarian,[7] Macedonian,[8] [9] Greek[10]) folk songs the (male) hedgehog often appears romantically interested in a (female) tortoise. His advances are usually unwelcome, the tortoises often resorting to legal means to deal with the harasser.[7] [11]

2. United States

Hedgehogs remain largely unseen in modern-day American culture. On a number of occasions British educational programs have been revoiced to refer to hedgehogs as porcupines (at least one of such examples being Bob the Builder). The Wacky Wheels video game makes humorous use of hedgehogs as projectiles, and they are also seen reading the newspaper while sitting on the toilet in the middle of the race course.

One notable exception is Sonic the Hedgehog, the video game character created by SEGA.

May has been designated Hedgehog Month by the International Hedgehog Association.

3. Oceania

New Zealand's McGillicuddy Serious Party were unsuccessful in their attempt to get a hedgehog elected to Parliament.

Also in New Zealand, hedgehogs feature in the Bogor cartoon by Burton Silver, via which they also appeared on a postage stamp.

4. Technology

A hedgehog transformer is an early type of electrical transformer designed to work at audio frequencies (AF). They resemble hedgehogs in size, color and shape, and were used in the first part of the 20th century. (See

5. Cuisine

Pork hedgehogs, with slivered almond quills.

In some supermarkets in the UK, a type of speciality loaf named Hedgehog Bread can be found for sale. The loaf has a hard top crust shaped before baking into a series of small spikes, resembling a hedgehog.

A "hedgehog cake" recipe appears in English cookbooks as early as the 18th century.[12]

"Hedgehogs" may also be created by moulding ground meat in a teardrop shape, embedding pastry slivers or slivered almonds in the surface to resemble quills, and adding eyes and ears of peppercorns, olives, or whole almonds. The technique dates back to at least 1390,[13] and was referenced in an episode of Two Fat Ladies.

6. Hedgehogs in Popular Culture

6.1. In Books

  • In Good to Great by James C. Collins, he describes a fundamental attribute of successful businesses as their "Hedgehog Concept".
  • Hans My Hedgehog is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. A wealthy but childless merchant wishes he had a child, even a hedgehog, and comes home to find that his wife has given birth to a baby boy that is a hedgehog from the waist up. After many trials Hans My Hedgehog marries a princess and becomes a handsome young man. An even more popular tale in this collection, The Hare and the Hedgehog, is about the race between a hare, who is proud of his swift legs, and a hedgehog. The hedgehog teams up with his wife who hides on the other side of the field across which the hare and the hedgehog are to race. The hedgehog does not race all the way but simply cowers in his furrow after a few steps. When the hare has crossed the field, Mrs. hedgehog raises her head on the other side and announces "I am here already." They repeat the race until finally the hare dies of exhaustion. The story illustrates the dangers of pride on the side of the hare who cannot overcome the common hedgehog's cunning.
  • The French author the Comtesse de Ségur devotes a chapter in the children's classic Les petites filles modèles (in French) to a story featuring hedgehogs. A mother hedgehog and her three offspring are killed by a caretaker because, as he explains it, they destroy little rabbits and partridges, to the great consternation of the children in the story.
  • In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts uses hedgehogs and flamingos to play croquet.
  • Beatrix Potter's Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle stars a hedgehog.
  • Two hedgehogs of school-child age feature in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.
  • In the 1927 British detective novel, The Ellerby Case by John Rhode, in the chapter entitled "The Green Hedgehog," Doctor Lancelot Priestly, the investigator who solves the case, is nearly murdered by a hedgehog dyed green whose spines have been impregnated with a virulent poison.
  • British author Terry Pratchett incorporates hedgehogs into several of his Discworld novels, and one of the characters is known for singing a lewd song called "The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered at All".
  • Jan Brett has featured a hedgehog as the main character in many of her books, including The Mitten and Hedgie's Surprise.
  • Hedgehogs are common characters in Brian Jacques's book series, Redwall.
  • Dick King-Smith has written a story for younger children about a family of hedgehogs threatened by traffic, The Hodgeheg.
  • In The Animals of Farthing Wood by British author Colin Dann, several hedgehogs were part of the group of animals that travelled from Farthing Wood to the nature reserve White Deer Park. The oldest two hedgehogs were run over on a motorway near the end of the journey.[14] The rest of the hedgehogs safely made it to White Deer Park and appeared sporadically in the remainder of the series. In the television adaptation only two hedgehogs were part of the group. As in the novel, both were killed on the motorway.[15]
  • Isaiah Berlin, in The Hedgehog and the Fox, takes the hedgehog as the type of the person who knows "one big thing", as opposed to the fox, who knows many things. This was taken from a poem by Archilochus.
  • Similarly, Stephen Jay Gould refers to a persistent in sticking to one strategy, "hedgehog-like" behavior in his discourse on the humanities versus science in The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox.
  • In Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories a Hedgehog named Stickly-Prickly is one of the main protagonists in the story "The Beginning of the Armadillos".
  • One of the most popular book-length children poems in Serbian is Branko Ćopić's Ježeva kućica, (The Hedgehog's Little House)
  • Fuzzypeg, a friend of Little Grey Rabbit.
  • Yona, the Hedgehog, is a mythical character in Richard Adams' Watership Down.
  • Shakespeare referenced hedgehogs in The Tempest and Midsummer Night’s Dream. He referred to them as “hedgepigs” and “urchins.”[16]
  • Kiroileva siili (Finnish for "the swearing hedgehog") is a comic strip written and drawn by Finnish artist Milla Paloniemi.

6.2. In Other Media

  • Sonic the Hedgehog is Sega's anthropomorphic corporate mascot and one of the stars of the video game series of the same name, five TV series, OVA, movie, animated shorts, and five comic series, one published in the USA and one in the UK. Aside from being bipedal and cobalt blue, he resembles a real hedgehog, having large spines, a long nose, and a penchant for curling into a spiky ball. Among his many co-stars are four more hedgehogs: Amy Rose, Shadow, Silver and, in the Archie comic series, Scourge. Other hedgehogs in the TV Series were Sonia, Manic, Queen Aleena and Uncle Chuck.
  • In the Nintendo game Animal Crossing, the Able Sisters are 2 female hedgehogs that own a tailor shop for the player to purchase some clothing. In Animal Crossing, a third Able sister was introduced named Labelle.
  • The Mysteries of Alfred Hedgehog stars an anthropomorphised hedgehog.
  • Mr. Pricklepants is an animated, stuffed toy hedgehog from the 2010 Disney/Pixar film Toy Story 3, who likes to act in stage plays. He is voiced by actor Timothy Dalton.
  • Lindsfarne Dewclaw, from the online comic strip Kevin and Kell is a hedgehog. She is highly intelligent, and is studying to be a scientist, fascinated with genetics, astronomy and spaceflight. She has recently graduated from university with her bachelor's degree and married her high school sweetheart Fenton Fuscus, a bat.
  • Jeż Jerzy (George the Hedgehog in English) is a Polish comic book title written by Rafał Skarżycki (pl) and drawn by Tomasz Lew Leśniak (pl).
  • Igel Ärgern is a popular German board game, first published in 1990 by Doris Matthaus & Frank Nestel (the makers of Ursuppe). The title roughly translates as "Hedgehog Irking," but the game is usually called "Hedgehogs in a Hurry" in English. In the game, each player races a team of four hedgehogs across a track, avoiding mud pits and occasionally piling atop one another.
  • In a 1970 episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, there was a fake news profile of a crime lord named Dinsdale Piranha, a notorious criminal known for nailing people's heads to the floor. Piranha believed a giant invisible hedgehog named "Spiny Norman" was following him everywhere, and when he came to believe Spiny Norman was hiding out in an aeroplane hangar, he blew the hangar up with a nuclear bomb. During the closing credits of the show, Spiny Norman is seen stalking London and shouting "Dinsdale!"
  • In 1981 an Album called 'Hedgehog Sandwich' was released by BBC records, featuring comedy sketches from the Not the Nine O'Clock News television series.
  • In the Israeli version of Sesame Street, Rechov Sumsum, one of the main characters was a pink human-sized, orange spiked hedgehog named "Kippy Ben Kippod " (Kippy Hedgehogson). The same character later appeared in the Israeli/Palestinian co-production of the series, Rechov Sumsum Shara'a Simsim
  • In the Spanish version of Sesame Street, one of the main characters was a pink human-sized hedgehog called "Espinete" (little spine).
  • In the anime Saint Tail, main character Haneoka Meimi acquires a pet brown hedgehog named Ruby while in her titular alter ego of the superthief Saint Tail. Ruby helps Saint Tail out on one caper, is the inspiration for one of the latter's magic tricks, and acts as a mascot.
Hedgehog in the Fog commemorated on a Soviet postage stamp.
  • Hedgehog in the Fog is a 1975 animation directed by Yuriy Norshteyn about a hedgehog who travels through a very foggy wood to visit his friend, a bear.
  • Harry Hedgehog is an enemy in Yoshi's Island. He is an enemy that runs around and extends his quills when Yoshi gets near.
  • Mega Man 3 on the NES had a robotic hedgehog enemy in Needleman's stage, referred to as "Needle Harry" in Nintendo Power. In Mega Man II on the Game Boy, this enemy returns along with Needleman, and in "list of enemies" at the end is referred to as "Hari Harry" (note that in Japanese a hedgehog is a "harinezumi" or literally a "needle mouse"). It attacks by firing its spines, and can also roll, during which it is invulnerable.
  • In the "Timeless Time" episode of the BBC television show One Foot in the Grave, Victor, on his way back into the house in the early morning hours of returning from turning off his faulty car alarm, accidentally steps into a rotting hedgehog and walks it into the house, like a slipper.
  • A series of animated road safety advertisements featuring a family of hedgehogs aired between 1997 and the mid 2000s on various British television channels, as part of the Think! road safety campaign of the British government. The ads (e.g. King of the Road, Stayin' Alive, Glow in the Dark, Green Man, etc.) were aimed primarily at a child audience, teaching them about the basics of road safety through songs and the younger hedgehogs' humorous misadventures. A promotional website supplemented the television advertisements. It was relaunched in 2003, along with the redesigned version of the ads, but discontinued in 2008. An officially archived version survives.[17][18][19]
  • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, Kyoya Hibari uses a hedgehog nicknamed Roll as one of his signature weapons besides his tonfas.
  • In the final episode of the second series of Bottom Richie mistakingly believes that Red Indians eat hedgehogs and Eddie Hitler mistakes a hedgehog for a womble
  • The Incredible String Band has a song called 'The Hedgehog's Song' in their album The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion. It was written by Mike Heron.
  • In Littlest Pet Shop, Russell Ferguson (voiced by Samuel Vincent), is a male orange hedgehog and the organizer of the group. Usually he keeps everyone in the Littlest Pet Shop on track, making sure the others won't wreck it in the process. He is often mistaken for a porcupine.
  • In the 2012 film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", the wizard Radagast has a pet hedgehog named Sebastian.
  • A hedgehog named Russell is one of the major characters in the film Once Upon A Forest.


  1. Civjan, Tatjana; Razauskas, Dainius (2004), "Еж в космогонических преданиях (Балто-балканский ареал) / Hedgehog in Cosmogonic and Etiological Legends of the Balto-Balcanic Area", Folklore studies XXI: 79–91, . English abstract also available separately.
  2. Gura, A.V. (А.В. Гура) (1999), "Еж [Hedgehog]", in Tolstoy, Nikita (Никита Толстой) (in ru), 2, Международные отношения, pp. 181–182, ISBN 5713309827 
  3. "Hedgehogs" in: Simpson, Jacqueline; Roud, Stephen (2000), A Dictionary of English Folklore, Oxford University Press, pp. 472–473, ISBN 019210019X, 
  4. Slovenska mitologija: enciklopedijski recnik, Beograd: Zepter BookWorld, 2001, pp. 245–246, ISBN 8674940250 , quoted in: Tales From The Past – Folklore, Fairy Tales, Mythology and Magic
  5. One version of this story, called СОНЧЕВАТА ЖЕНИДБА (The Sun's Wedding), was collected by Marko Cepenkov in the 19th century, in what is today North Macedonia; in it, the hedgehog (who rides a donkey) offers stones to his donkey to eat. In another version of the story, it is a tortoise rather than a hedgehog who warns the sun about the consequences of the wedding; in yet another version, it is an old man who offers a piece of quartz to his donkey. These other two versions can be found e.g. in Predanija i Legendi, ed. Kiril Penuševski, Skopje, 1969.
  6. "Raskovnik" (Расковник) in: Агапкина, Т. А (2009) (in ru), 4, Международные отношения, p. 396, ISBN 5713307034, 
  7. Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, ed. (1896), "Желва и еж (Tortoise and Hedgehog)" (in bg), Sbornik za narodni umotvorenii͡a︡ i narodopis ..., 13, Bŭlgarskata akademii͡a︡ na naukite., pp. 38–39, 
  8. Stefanovski, Božo (БОЖО СТЕФАНОВСКИ), ed. (1995), "Кинисала мома желка (The Girl Turtle went out)" (in mk), Цут цутила черешвица. Македонски народни песни од Мариово, Skopje, 
  9. Song no. 28 ("Свадба отъ ракови-те' [Lobsers' Wedding]) in the Bulgarian Folk Songs. Edited by the Miladinov brothers. Zagreb, 1861. (in Bulgarian)
  10. Stuart Glennie, John S., ed. (1885), "Nursery Rhyme No. VI", Greek folk-songs from the Turkish provinces of Greece, 'Η δουλη 'Ελλασ: Albania, Thessaly (not yet wholly free), and Macedonia: literal and metrical translations by Lucy M. J. Garnett, classified, revised, and edited with an historical introduction on the survival of Paganism, by John S. Stuart Glennie, p. 173, , based on Song no. 195 from Panagiotis Aravantinos' "Συλλογή δημωδών ασμάτων της Ηπείρου" (Athens, 1880)
  11. Shapkarev, Kuzman (1891), "No. 1236, Ежовите и жельките (The hedgehogs and the tortoises)" (in bg), Sbornik ot bŭlgarski narodni umotvorenii͡a, Volume 3, Issues 1–2, Pechatnitsa na "Liberalniĭ klub,", p. 137, 
  12. Ayto, John (2012), The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink, Oxford University Press, p. 170, ISBN 0199640246, 
  13. "The Forme of Cury, A Roll of Ancient English Cookery, Compiled, about A.D. 1390, by the Master-Cooks of King Richard II, Presented afterwards to Queen Elizabeth, by Edward Lord Stafford", contains a recipe for sausages "made after an urchoun [i.e., hedgehog] withoute legges" with "smale prikkes of gode past [pastry]".
  14. Dann, Colin (1979). "Chapter 26: The Motorway". The Animals of Farthing Wood (2006 ed.). London: William Heinemann Ltd. p. 239. 
  15. "Between Two Evils". The Animals of Farthing Wood. Series One. Episode Ten. 10 March 1993. 19:32 minutes in. BBC.
  16. "22 things you didn't know about hedgehogs" (in en). 
  17. "Helping hedgehogs to cross the road – games in the UK Government Web Archive". The National Archives. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  18. "Hedgehogs to deliver road safety message". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  19. "Stop Look Listen Live". Department of Transport / The National Archives. 7 November 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
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