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Hedgehogs also lay up food for the winter; rolling themselves on apples as they lie on the ground, they pierce one with their quills, and then take up another in the mouth, and so carry them into the hollows of trees. These animals also, when they conceal themselves in their holes, afford a sure sign that the wind is about to change from north-east to south.1 When they perceive the approach of the hunter, they draw in the head and feet, and all the lower part of the body, which is covered by a thin and defenceless down only, and then roll themselves up into the form of a ball, so that there is no way of taking hold of them but by their quills. When they are reduced to a state of desperation, they discharge a corrosive urine, which injures their skin and quills, as they are aware that it is for the sake of them that they are hunted. A skilful hunter, therefore, will only pursue them when they have just discharged their urine. In this case the skin retains its value; while in the other case, it becomes spoilt and easily torn, the quills rotting and falling off, even though the animal should escape with its life. For this reason it is that it never moistens itself with this poisonous fluid, except when reduced to the last stage of desperation; for it has a perfect hatred for its own venomous distillation, and so careful is the animal, so determined to wait till the very last moment, that it is generally caught before it has employed this means of defence.

They force it to unroll itself, by sprinkling warm water upon it, and then, suspended by one of its hind legs, it is left to die of hunger; for there is no other mode of destroying it, without doing injury to its skin. This animal is not, as many of us imagine, entirely useless to man. If it were not for the quills which it produces, the soft fleece of the sheep would have been given in vain to mankind; for it is by means of its skin, that our woollen cloth is dressed. From the monopoly of this article, great frauds and great profits have resulted;2 there is no subject on which the senate has more frequently passed decrees, and there is not one of the Emperors, who has not received from the provinces complaints respecting it.3

1 The faculty which these and other animals possess of foreseeing the weather and the future direction of the wind, is mentioned by Plutarch, and as existing especially in the hedgehog. It is also mentioned by Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. ix. c. 6; but it is not confined, as Pliny states, to its change in one direction only. It has been suggested by some commentators, that, by a slight alteration in the text, the statement may be extended to a change of the wind in either direction, Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 468.—B.

2 The teasel, or carding thistle, is now used for this purpose; as also iron wires, crooked and sharpened at the point. Not a single quill, probably of the hedgehog, is now used in the manufacture of cloth.

3 Dalechamps suggests that these complaints were probably to the effect that thistles and thorns were employed instead of the quills of the hedgehog; that the skin of the hedgehog was brought to market in a bad state; and again, that the rich merchants were in the habit of buying them up, and forestalling the market. Hardouin quotes an edict of the Emperor Zeno against monopolies of hedgehogs and carding materials, if, indeed, that is the meaning of the word "pectinum."

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