“Small enough to fit in your hands but too prickly to hold” is a good description of the hedgehog. Though small, it is by no means defenseless. Thousands of stiff, sharp spines-harder and sharper than those of a porcupine-cover the animal’s back and sides, like a pincushion filled with needles.
Even though spines, or quills, provide the hedgehog with effective protection, the animal’s most striking characteristic is its practice of curling up into a tight ball, with its spines sticking out in all directions. When the hedgehog rolls up, a special, highly developed circular muscle that runs along the sides of the body and across the rump and neck contracts and forms a “bag” into which the body, head and legs are folded. The hedgehog curls up if disturbed or frightened-only the strongest predators, such as the badger, can pry it open. It also sleeps in this position, so is rarely caught unprotected.
Hedgehog is found through parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and New Zealand.