Farm Beginnings

Dec 16, 2013 by

 Gail

My name is Gail Miller and I am the owner of Millermeade Farm’s “Critter Connection”. My first introduction to the animal business began in 1984, when I was old enough to join 4-H. My father and I started raising New Zealand White rabbits together for meat and for show. We maintained the rabbit business together through my college years. My years in 4-H and the time spent raising rabbits with my father were priceless learning experiences that gave me an excellent foundation for raising animals and running a business. I had the privilege of working with my dad raising hedgehogs at “Hedgehog Headquarters” from 2002-2006.

Millermeade Farms

The original Millermeade Farms was a 200- acre farm owned by my grandfather in the early 1930’s. Millermeade means “Miller’s Meadows”. In 1995 my grandfather gave me two acres of the original Millermeade Farms to build a new building for an established rabbitry that I purchased in my senior year of college. Since I was the 5th generation to own the property, I kept the name Millermeade Farms for my new business.

Critter Connection

In 1997, I moved to northwest Ohio. I was given a trio of hedgehogs for my birthday to compensate for leaving my new rabbit building behind and thus Millermeade Farm’s “Critter Connection” was established. I fell instantly in love with the hedgehogs and my interest in exotic animals was born. I started attending Exotic Animal and Reptile shows, swaps, and auctions across the country to collect new bloodlines for various critters. The care sheets found on this website are based on our knowledge of each animal through research and experience.

The exotic pet industry has seen many changes over the years and our business has changed many times since we began in 1997. At one point Critter Connection had 23 different species of animals in our breeding program but we are currently focusing our time and energy on hedgehogs.

New exotic animal laws and USDA regulations have made a huge impact on the exotic pet industry. Retail pet stores and breeders must be USDA licensed which makes sales of small animals such as degus, spiny mice, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, duprasis etc. more and more limited. Many of the exotic small animals are extremely difficult to breed making the cost of raising them higher than the market can support. Many exotic small animals on the market in the past were either direct imports or descendants of imported animals. Importation of African rodents into the U.S. was stopped in 2001 as a result of the Monkeypox ban.

I still try to attend the Midwest Reptile Show in Indianapolis, Indiana, on a regular basis (but we will not be able to attend every month as we have in previous years). We would love to catch up with you at a show. Please check our Upcoming Events page for our latest schedule. Do contact us first before making a special trip to one of the shows. 

Hedgehogs

The first time I saw hedgehogs was at a pet store, when I was visiting my friends in Missoula, Montana, in 1993.  Hedgehogs were $650.00 each at the pet store and my friends joked that I should stop raising rabbits and raise hedgehogs instead.  By 1997 when my husband bought my first hedgehogs and I DID exchange my rabbits for hedgehogs, the price had dropped to $35.00 each from small breeders. I was very much intrigued by the hedgehog’s personality and uniqueness and hence a desire to breed them was born. The person who bred my first hedgehogs knew very little about them and the only information I was giving to my customers was to keep the hedgehogs in a 10-gallon aquarium and feed them cat food. Initially I wasn’t able to pick up my hedgehogs without gloves and I had no idea if they would bite me or if they would be friendly. I have devoted countless hours to the study of hedgehog care, handling, husbandry, nutrition and health since my first introduction to hedgehogs many years ago.  I love the research surrounding hedgehogs, educating customers, and the challenge of breeding to improve the quality of the hedgehogs in the pet market.

My Family

Critter Connection is a home-based business so I am a mother as well as a full-time businessperson. My children are very important to me and I feel it is a privilege that I can work from home. I don’t get as much quiet computer and phone time as before I had kids and when you call you may hear the noise of our family life in the background. Please be patient if I don’t respond to emails or phone calls right away. If you don’t hear back from me within 24 hours please try again because I may not have received your message.

New Education Center

In November of 2015, Critter Connection has stretched and grown into an expanded new location!  Our new education and breeder center has blessed us with more room for both hedgehogs and customers!  I hope to spend some time with you sharing my love and passion for little quilled critters!