The hedgehog is a small, pig-like creature covered in prickly spines. At sign of danger, it rolls up into an impenetrable ball. Most often the hedgehog is depicted in the act of gathering food for its young—they climb up onto grape vines, shaking the fruit to the ground. By rolling over the grapes on their backs, they spear the fruits so they may be carried home.
In Das Kochbuch des Meisters Eberhard, a 15th century German cookbook, it is claimed that ”The meat of a hedgehog is good for lepers. Those who dry its intestines and grind them to a powder and eat a little of that are made to piss, even if they can not do so otherwise.”
According to St Antony of Padua, the hedgehog represented an obstinate sinner covered in the pricks of his sins; if anyone should try to convince him of his sins, he rolls up, hiding from his faults. When the hedgehog is curled up, its head and mouth face toward the ground, just as the mind and words of a sinner are low when he seeks to excuse his wrong-doing.