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Pets of Oxford: Hedgehogging the spotlight

About a year ago, Miami University senior Rebecca Burnham, bought a new pet hedgehog on a whim.

Her friends were interested in getting hedgehogs and Burnham wanted one, too. So one night they found an ad on Craigslist for newborn hedgehogs, still pink and only an inch long, and they contacted the seller to see the tiny pets.

Burnham picked out the hedgehog she would later name Theo and returned to the seller eight  weeks later to take him home. Although his previous owners had already named him, Burnham decided to change his name to Theo. 

“All the pets we have at home have human names, so I kind of wanted him to fit in,” she said.

Burnham likes hedgehogs because they’re pretty anti-social, so she can balance spending time with Theo and her responsibilities at school. Burnham tries to make sure that she plays with Theo for about an hour a day or sets him in her lap while she does homework. 

“He only wants to play when I want to play with him. He’s really content in his cage if I’m busy.” 

Burnham also has a pouch for Theo to sit in when the pair go somewhere, like Cru, a club on campus Burnham is involved in, and uptown park.

“He’s really low-key, so I can take him places,” she said.

Theo likes being around other people, but Burnham is his favorite person. Hedgehogs are receptive to scent, so he finds her comforting. Like other hedgehogs, Theo also has poor eye-sight, making crowded situations overwhelming for him. Theo is more likely to get along with people at night, because he is nocturnal and prefers to rest during the day.

Swimming and running are two of Theo’s favorite activities, making him pretty athletic for a hedgehog. 

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“He’s just cute and little,” Burnham said.

Sometimes when Theo wants to play, Burnham will fill the bathtub with a few inches of water and let him swim around. 

At nighttime, Theo can run anywhere from six to ten miles on his wheel, despite his legs only  being about an inch long. Luckily, the wheel is quiet so Theo’s hobbies don’t bother Burnham.   

The duo are just like any old pair of college friends. 

“At my 21st birthday he had a (Smirnoff) ice,” said Burnham. “He just licked it out of a cup.” 

Theo is mostly “along for the ride,” when Burnham hangs out with  her friends, but he gets into his own antics too. Last year, over J-term, Theo got lost in the house for over an hour. 

While Burnham panicked, Theo got comfortable under her roommate's bed in her shoes organizer.

Despite not knowing much about hedgehogs when she first got Theo, Burnham’s friends with hedgehogs were able to help her research how to properly care for Theo. 

Since researching and getting a lot of practice, Burnham knows quite a bit and really enjoys having a hedgehog  in her life.  

beermaej@miamioh.edu

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