The Fox and The Hedgehog

A Fox with its tail caught was a feast for Mosquitoes. A Hedgehog offered to remove them. Fox said no; those on him were full; new would take more blood.

Consider carefully before changing your situation.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Fox and Hedgehog

Milo Winter (1919)

A Fox, swimming across a river, was barely able to reach the bank, where he lay bruised and exhausted from his struggle with the swift current. Soon a swarm of blood-sucking flies settled on him; but he lay quietly, still too weak to run away from them.

A Hedgehog happened by. “Let me drive the flies away,” he said kindly.

“No, no!” exclaimed the Fox, “do not disturb them! They have taken all they can hold. If you drive them away, another greedy swarm will come and take the little blood I have left.”


Better to bear a lesser evil than to risk a greater in removing it.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

A Fox after crossing a river got its tail entangled in a bush, and could not move. A number of Mosquitoes seeing its plight settled upon it and enjoyed a good meal undisturbed by its tail. A hedgehog strolling by took pity upon the Fox and went up to him: “You are in a bad way, neighbour,” said the hedgehog; “shall I relieve you by driving off those Mosquitoes who are sucking your blood?”

“Thank you, Master Hedgehog,” said the Fox, “but I would rather not.”

“Why, how is that?” asked the hedgehog.

“Well, you see,” was the answer, “these Mosquitoes have had their fill; if you drive these away, others will come with fresh appetite and bleed me to death.”

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall

Croxall - Fox and HedgehogA Fox was swimming across a river; and, when he came to the other side, he found the bank so steep and slippery, that he could not get up it. But this was not all the misfortune; for, while he stood in the water, deliberating what to do, he was attacked by a swarm of flies, who, settling upon his head and eyes, stung and plagued him grievously. A Hedgehog, who stood upon the shore, beheld and pitied his condition, and, withal, offered to drive away the flies, which molested and teazed him in that manner. Friend, replies the Fox, I thank you for your kind offer, but must desire you by no means to destroy these honest bloodsuckers that are now quartered upon me, and whose bellies are, I fancy, pretty well filled; for, if they should leave me, a fresh swarm would take their places, and I should not have a drop of blood left in my whole body.


This fable is recorded by Aristotle; who tells us that Aesop spoke it to the Samians, as an argument to dissuade them from deposing their great minister of state. And a shrewd and weighty one it is too. For a minister of state is either an honest public-spirited man, and labours for the good of the commonwealth; or he is chiefly intent, by all ways and means, upon filling his own coffers, and upon aggrandizing and enriching his relations. Now, where the first happens, one need not say how much it behoves every particular man, and all in general, to wish for the continuance of so wise and good a patriot: neither should they part with him merely for being one of the other stamp; for, however criminal he may be, in having robbed and plundered the public, we should consider, that, like the flies in the fable, he is pretty near full; and if he were to be removed, would only make way for some other more hungry, who would squeeze out of the poor people the remainder of their property.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Fox and Hedgehog

Ernest Griset (1874)

A Fox swimming across a river, was drifted along by the stream, and carried by an eddy into a nook on the opposite bank. He lay there exhausted, and unable for a time to scramble up. To add to his misfortunes a swarm of Flies settled upon his head. and stung and plagued him grievously. A Hedgehog, that happened to be near the edge of the water, offered to drive away the Flies that molested and teased him in that sad manner. “Nay,” cried the Fox, “pray let them alone. Those that are now upon me are already full almost to bursting with my blood. If you drive them away, a fresh swarm of hungry rascals will take their places, and I shall not have a drop of blood left in my body.”

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A fox swimming across a rapid river was carried by the force of the current into a very deep ravine, where he lay for a long time very much bruised, sick, and unable to move. A swarm of hungry blood-sucking flies settled upon him. A Hedgehog, passing by, saw his anguish and inquired if he should drive away the flies that were tormenting him. “By no means,” replied the Fox; “pray do not molest them.” “How is this?’ said the Hedgehog; “do you not want to be rid of them?’ “No,” returned the Fox, “for these flies which you see are full of blood, and sting me but little, and if you rid me of these which are already satiated, others more hungry will come in their place, and will drink up all the blood I have left.”

1001Herinaceus, Vulpes, et Muscae

Vulpes, cum flumen traiiceret, in voraginem decidit. Ex qua cum minime posset exire, diu male affecta fuit ipsique multae caninae muscae adhaeserunt. At herinaceus, qui per inde forte vagabatur, ut eam vidit, misericordia captus, interrogavit num ab ipsa caninas muscas abigeret. At illa omnino vetavit. Cuius rei causam cum ille quaereret, ei vulpes respondit, “Quoniam istae quidem plenae mei iam sunt, et parum sanguinis sugunt; si vero has abegeris, aliae venientes famelicae exhaurient mihi reliquum sanguinis.”

Perry #427