Hedgehog

Hedgehog  (Erinaceus Europæus ).—The hedgehog is likewise an inhabitant of the underground world, for it lives in holes below the roots of trees, and under heaps of stones. Its body, with the exception of its belly, is covered with sharp spines, and its feet are short and strong. It begins to hunt for its prey in the darkness of the night. Should it be disturbed it will suddenly roll itself up into a ball, its sharp spines projecting in all directions. In this condition no dog can get at it; but, if water is poured on it, it will unroll again. Its spines are also of great service to it in other ways; for when rolled up it can let itself down the steepest precipices, and fall from walls ten feet high, without sustaining the smallest injury.

The hedgehog may also be called a useful animal; for it destroys mice, rats, and vermin of all kinds, and will even feed on vipers, as poison does not effect it. Its flesh is eaten in some countries.

Timothy

T IMOTHY was our pet hedgehog. I bought him in Leadenhall Market, brought him home, and put him into the back-garden, which is walled in. There, to that extent, he had his liberty, and many, and many a time did I watch him from my study window walking about in the twilight among the grass, searching for worms and other insects. And very useful was he to the plants by so doing. When the dry weather came food got more scarce; then Timothy was fed with bread and milk from the back-kitchen window, which is on a level with the stone. Soon he came to know that when he was hungry there was the supply; and often he would come and scratch at the glass or at the back-door for his supper, and after getting it, walk off to the garden beds to make himself useful. Few people know of the great use of a hedgehog in a garden, or they would be more generally kept. Our Timothy, poor fellow, however, in spite of all his good qualities, came to a bad end. A strange dog coming one day, saw him walking about in search of his accustomed food, and pounced on him and bit him; still I had hopes of his recovery, but in a few days he died, and all of us were sorry.