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No. 2: January 1978

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Hedgehogs Use Toad Venom For Defense

European hedgehogs chew toad skins to extract venom from the paratoid glands. They then lick their spines with the saliva-venom mixture. Experiments with human volunteers prove that the venomanointed spines are much more painful and irritating than clean ones. Such hedgehog behavior is innate and fully developed before the juveniles leave the nest. Tenrecs, which are similar to hedgehogs but in an entirely different family, display a somewhat different self-anointing type of behavior that must have developed independently. Conclusion: self-anointing with toad venom is so useful that it developed twice under evolutionary pressures.

(Brodie, Edmund D., Jr.; "Hedgehogs Use Toad Venom in Their Own Defense," Nature, 268:627, 1977.)

Reference. Hedgehog anointing and other idiosyncrasies may be found in Chapter BMB in Biological Anomalies: Mammals I. This book is described here.

From Science Frontiers #2, January 1978. 1978-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987