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A hedgehog, also referred to as hedgepig, can refer to any mammal some of whose hairs take the form of stiff, sharp quills, but it is probably most correctly applied to the taxonomic subfamily Erinaceinae of the Old World.
Their chief defense is curling into a ball and presenting their quills, which may ward off some predators--but is no match for an automobile. Some species of hedgehogs are kept as pets.
 Hedgehogs as characters
The hedgehog has appeared in British literature for quite a long time, typically stereotyped as gentle and refined. Hedgehogs are regulars in the Redwall series, often in the early-defined role of "cellarhog".
In Japan, the hedgehog's spiny exterior and possibly its high metabolic rate (typical of insectivores) inspired one of the most recognizable video game and manga characters to date, Sonic the Hedgehog.