The Instagram Life


What do you do when you can’t stop photographing your pet?

Start an Instagram page, of course!

Written by Rosalind Fournier

For an animal that a writer once compared to a “bristly hairbrush,” a well-pampered hedgehog can live an enviably rich life. You’ll see as much if you join the newly converted hedgehog junkies who follow the adventures of Finn and Winnie on Anna Bonner’s Instagram page, @quilly.quinnstagram. With a little prodding and primping by Bonner, Finn and Winnie drive racecars, play cornhole, cheer on their favorite basketball team (Duke), go to the beach (they love Gulf Shores), and dress for just about every holiday.

And here’s the funny thing: Bonner never had any interest in hedgehogs until her younger brother begged their parents for one. “He managed to convince them to let him get a hedgehog from a local pet store,” she remembers. “We were told it was a baby boy, so my brother named ‘him’ Duke. A month later, we discovered that our hedgehog was definitely not a baby boy because there were now four more little tiny babies in the cage!”

To the family’s dismay, only one of the babies survived. They named him Quinn, and Bonner fell in love, eventually taking Quinn with her to grad school at Auburn. She says starting an Instagram page starring her new pet was really just an afterthought, a way to break up marathon study sessions as she prepared to take the CPA exam. “I was doing pretty much nothing but studying and hanging out with Quinn,” Bonner says. “I had hundreds of pictures of him on my phone already, so I decided, why not start an Instagram so at least the pictures could be used for something?”

Heartbroken when Quinn died two years later, Bonner brought home a new hedgehog, Finn, followed by Winnie soon after. Though the Instagram page still bears Quinn’s name, Finn and Winnie are the new stars.

“Their posing styles are actually really funny,” Bonner says. “Finn is kind of your typical hedgehog—when I first pick him up, he goes into a hedgie ball until he feels a little more comfortable. Winnie never balls up. It’s like he just doesn’t have that fearful instinct at all. It makes him really fun to play with, but sometimes more difficult to photograph because he is always moving around and being very playful.”

Bonner is now a financial analyst and CPA for UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, but she still makes time to post new hedgie photos regularly. Taking their picture merges well with another stress-relieving hobby, which is creating sets and accessories for them. “I make a lot of the props, like the shark fin, birthday hat, and graduation cap. I’ve always loved doing crafty things like that. Some of the other costumes are from Etsy or Hobby Lobby. They have great miniatures.”

So far, @quilly.quinnstagram has 26,600 followers and growing—and it’s even managed to catch celebrity-grade attention from Oprah.com. The site was featuring a series of pets dressed as superheroes, and along with several cleverly outfitted dogs and cats, there’s Quinn in a Superman cape. “He may be tiny,” the editors wrote, “but that won’t stop Quinn the hedgehog-of-steel from lifting cars and melting hearts.” Bonner says her followers grew exponentially after the feature appeared.

“I think that hedgehogs are just so cute,” she says. “I love spreading the happiness that they bring.” 

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