Minnie the hedgehog lives in Iota Byars with her owner, sophomore Riann Miller from Omaha, Nebraska.
Minnie, who is named in honor of her owner’s love for all things Disney, is an African Pygmy Hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris). Also known as the four-toed hedgehog, the African Pygmy Hedgehog is the most commonly sold species of hedgehog in the pet trade.
In the wild, African Pygmy Hedgehogs are primarily insectivores. They eat grubs, snails and other invertebrates. But Miller, who has owned Minnie since last Christmas, feeds her cat food.
“I did a lot of research on hedgehogs before buying Minnie. One of the things I found is that cat food and treats have more nutrients than branded hedgehog food,” Miller said.
Hedgehogs use their sharp, toothpick-like quills to ward off predators like birds of prey and badgers. Miller used to be afraid of Minnie’s quills when she first purchased her from a hedgehog breeder at eight weeks old, but she soon got used to it.
“Minnie used to shed her quills when she was younger and they would get everywhere,” Miller said. “It is so much worse than stepping on a Lego.”
Minnie doesn’t like getting her nails clipped or the occasional bath, but has become more social since she moved to Eckerd over a year ago. Miller, a marine science and Spanish double major, warns students interested in purchasing a hedgehog that owning one requires time and effort.
Minnie and other hedgehogs need to be kept between 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and usually need a heat source to maintain that temperature. Veterinarian bills for hedgehogs can also get expensive because they are considered exotic animals.
Miller also posts Minnie’s adventures to an Instagram account (@thehedgieminnie) that she created for her beloved friend and hedgehog.