Previous: How To (Almost) Train A Beaver
Next: Goma The Red Eyed Tree Frog



View count:60,057
Last sync:2023-01-14 20:30
Kizmit the porcupine, Pearl the tegu, and Lollipop the skunk have fun with behavioral enrichment to elicit their amazing natural behaviors.

Our Video Sponsors:

Scott Hartranft
Bruce Fong
Ryan James
James Pellosma
Sara Lauter
Megan Wetzel
Christine Gerding
Tori Zecchini
Donald Eckels

Thank you so much for helping make these videos possible!

If you'd like your name here or featured at the end of an episode, you can become a sponsor at
Looking for more awesome animal stuff?
Subscribe to Animal Wonders Montana to see all of our videos!

Other places to find us:
Amazon Wishlist:

 (00:00) to (02:00)

All animals have instinctual behaviors that they find rewarding to do.  For example, cats like to scratch things.  Dogs like to dig in dirt.  Parrots like to chew wood and shred toys and snakes like to burrow and hide.  When an animal is living in the care of humans, they can't have a good, happy, and healthy life without behavioral enrichment.  Behavioral enrichment is used by those who care for animals and want to enhance their quality of life, which is why we love to give the animals at Animal Wonders so much enrichment and that's what we're gonna do today.


When you're choosing what kind of enrichment to give an animal, think about what their instinctual behaviors are and then find a toy or other item that will entice them to exhibit those behaviors.  Today we're gonna focus on Kizmit the African crested porcupine, Pearl the Colombian tegu, and Lollipop the striped skunk.  In the wild, Kizmit would spend a lot of her time foraging to find food to eat, and when she's done or wants to go to sleep, she'll crawl down into a deep burrow that she's dug herself and just spent her entire day with her family unit doing a lot of social grooming.  

Pearl the Colombian tegu's natural behaviors are going to be a lot different than a porcupine's.  In the wild, she would climb trees, she would hunt and hide in tall grass, she would swim in small pools of water, and she would bask in the sun, and the last animal that we're gonna check in with today is Lollipop the striped skunk.  In the wild, they are solitary animals and they are consumed by foraging.  They spend most of their time with their nose to the ground, ignoring the world around them, smelling for food to eat, so keeping in mind their natural behaviors, let me show you how we enrich our animals.

Alright, guys, we're here with Kizzie, Kizmit the African crested porcupine, and I'm going to try and elicit some of her natural foraging behaviors and I'm going to do that by just simply putting some food around so that in the wild, you know, she would just come across food and she's gotta use her nose to do that so let's see if she can find just the pieces that I've put down.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

She found it.  All of her treats are in there.  Here, what if I put that away?  Can you find it somewhere else?  And there she goes.  She's finding them.  She's got it now.  She's using her natural behavior of being able to smell very well and she's searching out where the food is.  

So now this is, this is pretty easy.  This only, you know, lasted about a minute or two, so the goal with behavioral enrichment is to make it last as long as possible, so let's make it a little bit more difficult.  Let's put these treats in some boxes.  The first one I'm going to put a couple in here.  I know, and let's see if hang that there, if she can figure out how to get into it.  

So obviously she knows it's in there.  She can smell it and she just had to figure out how to get in there and so she was biting it, pulling it, and scratching, and those are all foraging techniques.  Those are behaviors that she would use to get her food in the wild and she did it.  She did great.

While she's preoccupied, I'm going to make a couple more of these just using some paper and wrapping around a couple treats and then kind of like how I scattered the food around, I'm just gonna kind of scatter these around, hide these around as well, even down the hole.   Look how she's using her front feet to hold on to that and she's a rodent, so she has very strong teeth used to chew through things and so she, again, she smelled and now she has to figure out how to get into her food.  This would be kind of mimicking something that had a strong rind on it that she'd have to chew through that rind to get to the food on the inside.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

Alright, let's see if she can find the other food.  Use that nose, Kizzie, and she's smelling, she's smelling, ohh, she smelled it.  Look at her, she found it!  You got that one really easy.  She didn't unravel or anything, she just found the weak spot and she just ripped it open.

This is the best, seeing an animal doing some natural behaviors.  They're obviously engaged in this and it's an enjoyable experience for them.  Hi. I don't have any more food.  Go find the other one.  It's hidden very well.  Can you smell it?  She's snuffling.  She--I gave her no prompts.  I mean, unless she can understand English.  I gave her no prompts.  She found that with her nose.  She has an excellent sense of smell.  I mean, she's down in this hole. 

This is a great place to talk about her next natural behavior, which is digging.  These guys will dig huge burrows and you can see that she's started to construct one for herself here.  So we're surrounded by dirt.  This is behavioral enrichment, you know, this is easy because she lives on it, but I'd like to do something a little bit extra, give her a different kind of a soil to play with as well.

I have a potted plant.  Let's see what she does with it.  It's new.  Look at her putting her quills out towards it.  She wasn't quite sure what it was at first.  It's edible, so it's going to be fine for her to eat it.  So I guess this is, you know, she's using it more foraging-wise and that's alright, but I bet she starts digging in that dirt pretty soon or she may just eat the whole plant first.

Sometimes when you are trying to give them enrichment for a certain behavior, it elicits another natural behavior and that's completely fine.  That's not a failure.  That's just another way to enrich them.  It's al good!  Having them engage with new things is the goal.

The last thing that these guys will do all the time is they will hang out with their family and do social grooming and I elicit that by doing a little grooming to her.  

 (06:00) to (08:00)

So they have this very rough tongue.  It's rougher than a cat's tongue and so what I'm doing is I'm using my fingers and I'm pretending that my finger is her tongue and I'm just kind of moving it back and forth on her quills and she is sticking her tongue out the side of her mouth and she is grooming me back, and that--they would sidle up next to each other and that's what they would do.  Good girl.  Alright, I'll hide the rest of your food and we'll check out the next animal.  

So Pearl likes to climb trees and walk around and hide and hunt in tall grass, so I'm going to put a harness on her so we can get her outside doing that.  While she would climb trees in the wild, these trees aren't very good for her to climb, so instead, we're going to go ahead and put her on the ground and see what she does.

Do you see how her body is very low to the ground and she has this pointed nose so she has the ability to just kind of crouch down and push through this grass, where another animal might have difficulty going so quickly with their face in between.  They could get tangled in this grass, but she doesn't.

Sunbathing is also a natural behavior and that's what she's doing right now.  She's just sitting there.  She's spread out her body.  She's soaking in that sunlight and she's warming herself up.  One of my favorite behaviors that Colombian tegus do is they are able to swim really well.  Now, they don't spend a lot of time in water, but they're very good swimmers and they can cross streams, so let's go ahead and put her in a little kiddie pool.

Like I said, these guys are not like, water monitors so they wouldn't just hang out in the wild--in the water, they would just cross the stream to get to another place.  She enjoys the pool and she enjoys being in the bathtub as well, where she'll just get comfortable and just lift her feet and just start floating.  She's tongue flicking.  She's looking--she is just checking things out, trying to figure out where she is and where she should go from here.  Reptiles are ectothermic, so whatever temperature is around them, that's the temperature that they're going to be, so that might be a little too cold for her and she might want to go heat herself up in the sun.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

Alright guys, I'm going to go ahead and let her continue her walk and I will check back with you in just a moment with our last animal, Lollipop.  

Here's Lollipop.  We're gonna go ahead and put her harness on so that we can take her outside for some foraging fun.  So the first thing I wanna do is I just wanna set her down and let her engage her senses and see what she does.  Skunks have poor eyesight, so their world is discovered through scent and so to enrich a skunk, scent is the most important thing, so right now, I just kind of want to let her do her thing, and I know you guys can't see her right now but her nose is just going to town. 

So she smelled the area a little bit, now I'd like to try and elicit some of these natural behaviors of foraging.  Thinking of scent as key, I've brought out some pretty stinky or smelly things and I have some dog treats here, some cinnamon, and some peanut butter.  Let's see how she reacts to those.  She smelled something exciting and it's the peanut butter.  She found it.  

Lollipop has learned that when she's not finding something quickly enough, I will go and stand by it and so a lot of times, she'll just kinda be lazy about it and follow me around, expecting me to tell her where things are, so I am not going to do that.  You do your own thing.  

I wanna show off her amazing claws.  She has these very long nails in the front and powerful front arms and they are meant to kind of dig up like, roots and stuff like that, but also kind of rip apart rotten logs to get to some grub and so I'd like to kind of get that behavior out a little bit.  

 (10:00) to (12:00)

Alright, I'm going to break this apart a little bit and it's not so interesting right now because there's no food in there, but as soon as I put the food in, that's gonna be exciting.  There she goes!  She dug in there pretty good.  This is alfalfa hay.  It smells pretty strongly, and I think it's fun to know that she can smell her treats in between the alfalfa hay there, because I wouldn't be able to.  All I'd be able to smell is, you know, the hay, but she can distinguish between what's hay and what's treats.

I'm gonna try something else, too.  I don't know if it'll work, but I'm going to try and hide this little apple, these apple pieces underneath this bark and see if she can pull it open. There she goes!  Get it, yes!  Nice work, Lollipop!  You're so strong.  Look at you, that was so easy for you.  That was so awesome.  I love seeing her doing all of her natural behaviors, except for the spraying one, which we're not going to try and get her to do that one.

So you can see that behavioral enrichment varies from species to species and also depends on the individual's personality, but every animal benefits from enrichment and it's essential for their health and happiness.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how we enrich the lives of our animals, and if you'd like to contribute to their happiness and all of the other animals at Animal Wonders, you can check out our Amazon Wishlist, where you can pick out enrichment for your favorite animals, and if you'd like to keep going on this adventure with us, subscribe to our YouTube channel AnimalWondersMontana and don't forget to hit the notification bell so you don't miss a single episode.  Thanks, guys.


 (12:00) to (12:07)