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Kemosabe fruit experiment is a success! What does he like best? In this episode Jessi learns which fruit Kemo won't eat and which one he might like as much as bananas!

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 (00:00) to (02:00)

Hi everyone.  I'm Jessi and this is Kemosabe the porcupine.  Today, I'd like to see which kind of fruit Kemo can eat the best, because he's a very special porcupine with special needs.


Good job.  Kemosabe has been at Animal Wonders since 2010 and he's 11 years old.  Is that good?  In the wild, they live about eight years, but since he gets his meals hand-delivered and he receives the best veterinary care, he can double that life expectancy.  

Okay, let's set up this experiment.  I want to see how well Kemosabe can eat each of these fruits without my help.  I'm just going to give them to him and see what happens, like here's a strawberry, buddy.  It's all yours.  

So I really don't know what he's going to do with some of these because I've been helping him eat for so many years, I honestly haven't just let him try on his own.  Are you going after the greens?  Yeah?  I like that he's trying.  He's not making much progress on that strawberry, so let's see--here.  Blueberries?  I know, oh, oh, you are making some progress.  Look at you go.  You got some!  Nice work.  You want to try blueberries now?  

Get it, here.  There you go.  Give that a try.  Now when Kemosabe first came in, he had a tooth infection which resulted in us having to pull a top incisor which for rodents, is a major health issue, because they have evergrowing incisors.  The problem was, when we pulled that top incisor, he only had one top and two on the bottom and he could not rub them together, keeping them short on his own.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

So--good job, buddy--he squished that blueberry and he was able to munch it now.  I think he was just working on getting the skin down.  Does that taste good?  I think he is proficient at eating blueberries.  I think I'm going to start putting blueberries around your home now and see you just forage for them.  I think that'd be great.  Yeah.  You just went right for it. 

You know what, since you're so good at blueberries, I think we should try another fruit.  I think we should try giving him a grape and just see what he does with it, but just to be safe, I've cut it in half.  I know that's helping him a bit, but I don't want him to accidentally swallow it whole.  That would be bad.  Get it.  He threw, he rejected this blueberry.  Was it too hard?  Yeah, I think grapes are sweeter.  You can have that one there, too.  Oh, you are so slimy.

So once we pulled out that infected tooth, he did great for many years while we maintained the length of his teeth with quarterly tooth trims.  I'd say we've got a little progress there.  Yeah?  I'm not gonna take your grape, don't worry.  He's chattering, or he's attempting to chatter right now because I am very close to him while he's eating his food and he's being defensive of his food.  He doesn't want me to take it.

That one's a lot harder to eat, huh, buddy?  You're getting it though.  You're mushing it up so you can munch it down.  Can you say 'grape'?  That's almost grape.  I dunno, maybe you, instead of banana, you're saying grape.  Banana.  That's banana, you're right.  You're really really right.  

I love how he sits with his feet spread out like that.  That is an adaptation that he uses to be able to climb up in trees instead of trying to walk toe over toe.  He can just wrap his feet around and I love how he looks like a little penguin a little bit, of course, covered in spikes.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

He seems like he's enjoying the grape, but it feels like it takes him a long time to eat it.  I don't know if he'd get frustrated but he doesn't look frustrated to me.  He seems like he's enjoying himself a lot.  Would you like some more?  You wanna try something else?  I think we should try pear next, but I don't know.  It's kinda hard and do you think he'll even be able to get through this skin?  What do you think?  Give it a try?

Here you go.  I know that's hard.  Here, I actually have a softer pear that I've cut in two.  Would you like to try--that one seems like a kind of a trick.  (?~4:45)  Try that one?  Yeah.  Yeah.  Yeah.  He's like, jackpot!  Alright, let's get back to the story.  We trimmed his teeth every three months for years and things were good, but about two years ago, Kemosabe began losing his molars to old age and then his bottom incisors also began to have problems.  We ended up having to remove both bottom teeth, which left him exactly one tooth.  Right there on top.  

Alright, buddy, I don't want you filling up on all pear because I have some more fruits to try.  I wanna try some watermelon and again, I don't think it'd be fair to give him the whole watermelon so I'm gonna see if I can do a little swap and see if he can eat watermelon.  Here.  Swap.  Oh, oh, good switch, get it.  He's like, whoa, oh, where'd my pear go?  Here.  I don't think he likes watermelon.  Are you gonna go back to this other pear here?  

 (06:00) to (08:00)

I think, I think that's a 'I don't like watermelon', definitely.  He'll even go after the--now I know.  See, this is a great experiment.  Now, because rodent incisors are deeply rooted, the hole in his gums left behind when his bottom teeth were removed collected and then harbored a strong bacterial infection that took over 10 months to clear up.  

Hi, you want this back?  Here.  This again.  Yeah!  But on a more serious note, it was a really scary time for all of us, because even with three times daily mouth flushes, multiple medicines, and a trip to the vet to have the area completely cleaned up, the infection just wouldn't go away, but I'm happy to report that on his last visit to the vet, he was given a clean bill of health.  There is no sign of infection and his gums are completely healed over.  So we've been celebrating Kemosabe's health and happiness every day since, which I think calls for a banana, because everybody knows that's Kemosabe's favorite food, though I dunno, pear might be a contender.  Let's get this out of the way and let's do a swap.

You ready, bud?  He's like, don't--don't you take my pear away.  Here, I got this instead.  Look, a banana in a Kemosabe mug.  He struggled for so long to eat his favorite foods that it's just so good to see him enjoying himself now. 

Kemosabe is hands-down our most famous animal at Animal Wonders and I'm in love with everything that has his face on it, like this mug, and I'm so excited to announce that we're making a new color of t-shirt with Kemosabe on it.  You can put your pre-order in now at  The link is below, and check out the rest of our merch while you're there.  Taylor made some awesome earrings out of Kemosabe's dropped quills and we have some new stickers and some special paintings made by the animals themselves.

 (08:00) to (09:13)

Again, get your order in for Kemosabe's new t-shirt ASAP so you don't miss out.  Do you want some help with that?  What do you think?  Look, it's you with your banana!  And here you're saying 'nom nom'.  You are so awesome, buddy, and thank you for watching Animal Wonders, which is produced by Complexly.  We produce over a dozen shows, including PBS's Origin of Everything.  Join Dr. Danielle Bainbridge as she explores undertold histories and cultural dialogues, from the history of the laugh track to the history of racial passing.  No concept is too small or too complex for Danielle to tackle.

Check out the season two playlist in the description below.  Thank you and we will see you next week.