In most European countries, hedgehogs are believed to be a hard-working no-nonsense animal. This partially results from the folk belief that hedgehogs collect apples and mushrooms and carry them to their secret storage. It is unclear exactly how old this belief is, though the Roman author Pliny the Elder mentions hedgehogs gathering grapes by
this method in his Naturalis Historia. In medieval bestiaries and other illuminated manuscripts dating from at least the 13th century onwards, hedgehogs are shown rolling on and impaling fruit to carry back to their dens. In fact, however, hedgehogs do not gather food to store for later consumption, relying on their deposited fat to survive hibernation. It has been suggested, however, that the hedgehogs may use juice of wild apples in order to get rid of parasites, similar to anting. The image remains an irresistible one to modern illustrators. Therefore, hedgehogs are often portrayed carrying apples.
Hedgehogs are often pictured as fond of milk; as late as the 19th century, some English villagers even believed that these creatures would suck milk out of cows' udders. In reality, however, hedgehogs are lactose-intolerant.
During the 1970s and 1980s, hedgehogs were one of the poster animals for environment activists through Europe.
In a Vepsians legend the (female) hedgehog appears in a creation myth. According to the legend there was no dry land when the earth was created and the entire world was just a big lake. It was said that a giant hedgehog brought soil and sand with its needles, creating dry land.
In a Lithuanian and Latvian story its states that when God made heaven and earth, he did not take good measurements, so the earth was made larger than the heaven; on the hedgehog's wise suggestion, God squeezed the earth, so that it would fit into the heaven. In some version of the legend, the process of "shrinking" the earth resulted in the creation of mountain ranges. To reward the clever hedgehog, God equipped him with a suite of needles. A similar legend appears in Banat Bulgarians and Romanians as well.
The wisdom of the hedgehog is presented in other folk legend in the Balkans as well. In a Bulgarian legend, the Sun decided to marry the Moon, and invited all the animals to the wedding. The hedgehog was the only one who failed to appear. The Sun went to look for the hedgehog, and found him gnawing on a stone. When the Sun inquired what he was doing, the hedgehog explained: "I am learning to eat stones. Once you marry, you'll have many Sun children born to you, and when they all shine in the sky, everything will burn, and there will be nothing to eat". The Sun then decided to call off the wedding, and the world's inhabitants were saved from starvation.
In the Balkan Slavic and Belarusian folklore, the wise hedgehog (along with a tortoise) appears as the animal capable of finding the raskovnik, a magic plant that could be used to open locks and to find hidden treasures.
In a number of Balkan (Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek) folk songs the (male) hedgehog often appears romantically interested in a (female) tortoise. His advances are unwelcome, the tortoises resorts to legal means to deal with the harasser.
The city's German name, Iglau, is derived from the German word for hedgehog, Igel, hence the hedgehog on the coat of arms.
The common American holiday Groundhog Day originated in Ancient Rome as Hedgehog Day and is still celebrated as such through much of the world. There are no native hedgehogs in the United States, so the early settlers chose the groundhog as a substitute. Hedgehogs remain largely unseen in modern-day American culture.
May is designated Hedgehog Month by the International Hedgehog Association.
Also in New Zealand, hedgehogs feature in the Bogor cartoon by Burton Silver, via which they also appeared on a postage stamp
Hans My Hedgehog is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. A wealthy but childless merchant wishes he had a child, even a hedgehog, and comes home to find that his wife has given birth to a baby boy that is a hedgehog from the waist up. After many trials Hans My Hedgehog marries a princess and becomes a handsome young man. An even more popular tale in this collection, The Hare and the Hedgehog, is about the race between a hare, who is proud of his swift legs, and a hedgehog. The hedgehog teams up with his wife who hides on the other side of the field across which the hare and the hedgehog are to race. The hedgehog does not race all the way but simply cowers in his furrow after a few steps. When the hare has crossed the field, Mrs. hedgehog raises her head on the other side and announces "I am here already." They repeat the race until finally the hare dies of exhaustion. The story illustrates the dangers of pride on the side of the hare who cannot overcome the common hedgehog's cunning.
The French author the Comtesse de Ségur devotes a chapter in the children's classic Les petites filles modèles (in French) to a story featuring hedgehogs. A mother hedgehog and her three offspring are killed by a caretaker because, as he explains it, they destroy little rabbits and partridges, to the great consternation of the children in the story.
British author Terry Pratchett incorporates hedgehogs into several of his Discworld novels, and one of the characters is known for singing a lewd song called "The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered at All”.
Jan Brett has featured a hedgehog as the main character in many of her books, including The Mitten and Hedgie's Surprise.
Dick King-Smith has written a story for younger children about a family of hedgehogs threatened by traffic, The Hodgeheg.
In The Animals of Farthing Wood by British author Colin Dann, several hedgehogs were part of the group of animals that travelled from Farthing Wood to the nature reserve White Deer Park. The oldest two hedgehogs were run over on a motorway near the end of the journey. The rest of the hedgehogs safely made it to White Deer Park and appeared sporadically in the remainder of the series. In the television adaptation only two hedgehogs were part of the group. As in the novel, both were killed on the motorway.
Isaiah Berlin, in The Hedgehog and the Fox, takes the hedgehog as the type of the person who knows "one big thing", as opposed to the fox, who knows many things. This was taken from a poem by Archilochus.
Similarly, Stephen Jay Gould refers to a persistent in sticking to one strategy, "hedgehog-like" behavior in his discourse on the humanities versus science in The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox.
Fuzzypeg, a friend of Little Grey Rabbit.
The Mysteries of Alfred Hedgehog stars an anthropomorphised hedgehog.
Sonic the Hedgehog is Sega's anthropomorphic corporate mascot and one of the stars of the video game series of the same name, five TV series, OVA, and four comic series, one published in the USA and one in the UK. Aside from being bipedal and cobalt blue, he resembles a real hedgehog, having large spines, a long nose, and a penchant for curling into a spiky ball. Among his many co-stars are three more hedgehogs: Amy Rose, Shadow, and Silver. Other hedgehogs in the TV Series were Sonia, Manic, Queen Aleena and Uncle Chuck.
Lindsfarne Dewclaw, from the online comic strip Kevin and Kell is a hedgehog. She is highly intelligent, and is studying to be a scientist, fascinated with genetics, astronomy and spaceflight. She has recently graduated from university with her bachelor's degree and married her high school sweetheart Fenton Fuscus, a bat.
Igel Ärgern is a popular German board game, first published in 1990 by Doris Matthaus & Frank Nestel (the makers of Ursuppe). The title roughly translates as "Hedgehog Irking," but the game is usually called "Hedgehogs in a Hurry" in English. In the game, each player races a team of four hedgehogs across a track, avoiding mud pits and occasionally piling atop one another.
In a 1970 episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, there was a fake news profile of a crime lord named Dinsdale Piranha, a notorious criminal known for nailing people's heads to the floor. Piranha believed a giant invisible hedgehog named "Spiny Norman" was following him everywhere, and when he came to believe Spiny Norman was hiding out in an aeroplane hangar, he blew the hangar up with a nuclear bomb. During the closing credits of the show, Spiny Norman is seen stalking London and shouting "Dinsdale!"
In the Israeli version of Sesame Street, Rechov Sumsum, one of the main characters was a pink human-sized, orange spiked hedgehog named "Kippy Ben Kippod " (Kippy Hedgehogson). The same character later appeared in the Israeli/Palestinian co-production of the series, Rechov Sumsum Shara'a Simsim
In the Spanish version of Sesame Street, one of the main characters was a pink human-sized hedgehog called "Espinete" (little spine).
In the anime Saint Tail, main character Haneoka Meimi acquires a pet brown hedgehog named Ruby while in her titular alter ego of the superthief Saint Tail. Ruby helps Saint Tail out on one caper, is the inspiration for one of the latter's magic tricks, and acts as a mascot.
Hedgehog in the Fog commemorated on a Soviet postage stamp. Hedgehog in the Fog is a 1975 animation directed by Yuriy Norshteyn about a hedgehog who travels through a very foggy wood to visit his friend, a bear.
Harry Hedgehog is an enemy in Yoshi's Island. He is an enemy that runs around and extends his quills when Yoshi gets near.
Mega Man 3 on the NES had a robotic hedgehog enemy in Needleman's stage, referred to as "Needle Harry" in Nintendo Power. In Mega Man II on the Game Boy, this enemy returns along with Needleman, and in "list of enemies" at the end is referred to as "Hari Harry" (note that in Japanese a hedgehog is a "harinezumi" or literally a "needle mouse"). It attacks by firing its spines, and can also roll, during which it is invulnerable.
In the "Timeless Time" episode of the BBC television show One Foot in the Grave, Victor, on his way back into the house in the early morning hours of returning from turning off his faulty car alarm, accidentally steps into a rotting hedgehog and walks it into the house, like a slipper.
In the final episode of the second series of Bottom Richie mistakingly believes that Red Indians eat hedgehogs and Eddie Hitler mistakes a hedgehog for a womble
The Incredible String Band has a song called 'The Hedgehog's Song' in their album The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion. It was written by Mike Heron.
In Littlest Pet Shop, Russell Ferguson (voiced by Samuel Vincent), is a male orange hedgehog and the organizer of the group. Usually he keeps everyone in the Littlest Pet Shop on track, making sure the others won't wreck it in the process. He is often mistaken for a porcupine.