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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip   [before 1 December 1867]1

As in the August and September numbers, you have published an account of hedgehogs apparently carrying away pears and crabs sticking on their spines, you may think the following statement worth insertion as a further corroboration.2 I have received this account in a letter dated August 5, 1867, from Mr. Swinhoe at Amoy:3—“Mr. Gisbert, the Spanish Consul at Amoy, informs me that when he was an engineer on the roads in Spain some years ago, he was fond of shooting and roaming about the country. He states that in the Sierra Morena, a strawberry-tree (Arbutus unedo?) was very abundant, and bore large quantities of red, fruit-like, fine, large, red strawberries. These gave quite a glow to the woods. The district in the mountain chain he refers to, is on the divisional line between the provinces of Seville and Badajos. Under these trees hedgehogs occurred innumerable, and fed on the fruit, which the Spaniards call Madrône. Mr. Gisbert has often seen an Erizo (hedgehog) trotting along with at least a dozen of these strawberries sticking on its spines. He supposes that the hedgehogs were carrying the fruit to their holes to eat in quiet and security, and that to procure them they must have rolled themselves on the fruit which was scattered in great abundance all over the ground beneath the trees.”—

Charles Darwin.


The date is established by the date of publication of the letter, 1 December 1867 (Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip 3: 280). See also Collected papers 2: 137.
Two short reports of hedgehogs collecting fruit on their spines appeared in the August and September issues (Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip 3 (1867): 184–5, 213).
The quotation is from the letter from Robert Swinhoe, 5 August 1867, with slight modifications. Mr Gisbert has not been further identified.


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.


Sends, as corroboration of earlier articles on hedgehogs carrying fruit on their spines, a passage from a letter from R. Swinhoe [5598] describing hedgehogs carrying strawberries to their holes.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip
Sent from
Source of text
Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip 3 (1867): 280

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5702,” accessed on 26 September 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15