The Hedgehog (Erinaceinae) is a small mammal, covered with protective spines. Various kinds are found throughout Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. The hedgehog hibernates in winter. The name "hedgehog" was first used in the fifteenth century, and is drawn from their frequenting hedge rows and having a pig-like snout. They are also commonly referred to as the urchin, hedgepig, fadge-snuffler and furze-pig
Hedgehogs are omnivorous, but typically subsist by rooting and snuffling for slugs and grubs. Though slow-moving, they are surprisingly agile, capable of climbing trees to raid birds' nests, and also swim well. Tales are told of them using their spines to impale and carry off soft fruit, but any such attachments are probably unintentional.
The hedgehog relies for defence on its protective spines, rolling itself into a ball in a similar fashion to a pangolin or armadillo when threatened. This tactic, while effective against many predators, is of little use against motor vehicles, and many hedgehogs are killed on roads every year. The squashed-hedgehog has become a much more common sight as they increasingly move into urban areas in search of the abundant supply of discarded food, much like seagulls, foxes and rats. Badgers have been observed to drop them in water to induce them to unroll. Unlike those of the porcupine, hedgehog spines do not detach easily, and rarely used aggressively. The spines are made of keratin and are not barbed or poisonous.
Hedgehogs have been eaten by some people, notably the Gypsies, traditionally coated in clay and baked, but the Bible prohibits their consumption and declares them unclean (Leviticus 11:27).
The African Pygmy Hedgehog is sometimes kept as a pet, but is illegal in certain states. They require a warm environment, large space, low-fat foods (certain cat foods can work) and plenty exercise.