Nocturnal or crepuscular in habit, little is seen of this quadruped, except in the long summer evenings and in the early dawn. Its usual food consists of large insects, worms, slugs and snails, also mice and voles, particularly their young. It is of great service to the forester, and beneficial to the farmer and gardener by devouring noxious insects and various small vermin. But the hedgehog also eats roots and other vegetable substances, even fruit, fallen or within reach, such as Morello cherries low down against a wall, so that its work is not compatible with high culture in either the field or garden. In fields under ordinary crops and in pleasure grounds, its good influence is unquestionable; also in woodlands, coppices, hedgerows, and rough places generally, often the breeding grounds of noxious pests and from whence infections of useful crops often proceed and extend over wide areas.

Trapping the Hedgehog.

Fig. 76. - Trapping the Hedgehog.

References: a, butt of tree (a wall, board fence, or other close back answers); b, stick or thorns thrust well into the ground and standing a foot or more above ground so as to form a narrow (7 or 8 in. wide) passage from tree or back quite close and extending about 18 in. outwards; c, bait (egg with hole in shell, or recently dead chick); d, trap, uncovered and wrongly placed, as the animal may tread on spring and strike trap, thus escaping capture; e, proper place for table or mouth of trap, the spring being towards c and also the peg to which chain of trap is secured, so that the animal is caught on entering passage, the trap being concealed by covering with earth lightly and evenly so as to resemble surface of ground, and strike promptly and effectively when table is trod upon by animal.

Against the virtues, including that of being very good to eat, of the hedgehog must be placed the very grave faults of egg-stealing and killing the young of ground-breeding wild birds, this applying to both game and poultry. The gamekeeper and the poultry farmer accordingly consider the hedgehog as "vermin" and act so as to prevent its depredations or recurrence of them by trapping. This is generally effected by means of ordinary steel spring traps, an egg or a recently hatched dead game or poultry chick being used as a bait and so placed that the prickly intruder must pass on to the trap, duly concealed and affixed by cord or chain to a peg driven into the ground or to some fixed object (Fig. 76). In the case of a particular individual paying repeated visits to a particular place, a run or track may be discernible, when two or three traps set therein and about the place will secure the intruder.