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MLA Full: "Opossum and Skunk Get a Wheel!" YouTube, uploaded by Animal Wonders Montana, 6 February 2020,
MLA Inline: (Animal Wonders Montana, 2020)
APA Full: Animal Wonders Montana. (2020, February 6). Opossum and Skunk Get a Wheel! [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (Animal Wonders Montana, 2020)
Chicago Full: Animal Wonders Montana, "Opossum and Skunk Get a Wheel!", February 6, 2020, YouTube, 09:44,
Ophelia the opossum and Lollipop the skunk get their first try on a huge running wheel. Do they like it? Will they be able to use it?

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 (00:00) to (02:00)

Welcome to Animal Wonders.  I'm Jessi and this is Ophelia the North American opossum.  She only has three legs and that's because her mother was hit by a car and passed away.  She's a lucky survivor but her leg was damaged too much to be able to keep and she has brain trauma as well, so her rescuers reached out to us to see if we could provide her a home for the rest of her life.  We're happy to be able to take care of her, but there are some challenges to keeping opossums in captivity.  They're generally easy keepers, but since they're not moving around as much as they would in the wild, foraging around, they can easily become overweight.  This can cause major issues with their other organs and shorten their lifespan, so to make sure Ophelia doesn't succumb to this, we need to do a couple things.

We do a lot of foraging games so she has to seek out her food in a lot of different toys and we have lots of walks outside, but since we are located in Montana, our winters can get extremely cold, too cold for this little one, so we have to come up with a different plan, which I think you can pretty much guess what we're going to do.  This huge wheel!  We just got it, and I'm going to teach Ophelia how to walk on it.


To train Ophelia to walk on this wheel, I'm going to use positive reinforcement by giving her some of her favorite treats.  In the wild, opossums would be constantly foraging for their food, but they wouldn't always be successful, so what I'm hoping is that once I teach her how to walk on the wheel with her treats, then she will continue to walk on the wheel just 'cause it feels good and not because she's always searching for treats.  

Alright!  Let's give it a go.  She's never been on the wheel before.  Let's see how she likes it.  First thing I wanna do is just get her smelling the wheel so that she knows it's not something scary so we're going to put her safety blanket down on it and then she can smell.  What do you think?  

 (02:00) to (04:00)

What do you think?  It smells different, huh?  You probably smell your treats.  Okay, let's go ahead and make it nice and positive, so I'm going to put some of her treats down on it so she can eat her treats from it, and I'm holding it so it doesn't move right now.  I'm holding it still with my knee.

One of the things that happens with Ophelia is, she's kind of like, back heavy.  She can't really pull herself up very well, so she'll sometimes slip backwards onto something and so sometimes holding her tail and then she can wrap around my hand while I help her.  Alright, so I'm gonna let go with my knee so it's free moving.  I'm going to try and get some forward moving.  Ooh!  

I don't want to pull her off of her blanket, her safety blanket here.  I want her to walk off on her own.  See, see how she's kind of resisting taking that first step?  Here's a little yogurt drop.  Let's really see if she can get to it.  She's gonna smell it really well.  No, I don't want to go down.  There we go.  Let's hold it right here.  I know, it was there.  Good girl.  There you go.  Nice!  Let's get you off this blanket, huh?  

There you go.  Good job.  Good job.  Okay, there's the blanket goes.  Let's go forward.  Oh-oh, let's go this way.  Here.  It's movin', isn't it?  Oh, good job!  She's pretty unstable on this, that's why we're going really slow.  That's some good snacking, lip smacking.  Oh my gosh, that was great.

 (04:00) to (06:00)

You have an itchy ear?  Should we stop and itch your ear?  She's doing a lot of head shaking so what I'm going to do is we're just gonna stop and just take care of that ear itch that she's got.  Here, come here, you.  'Cause it will probably be distracting otherwise.  Get that right there?  

Ophelia, since she doesn't have a back left leg, she struggles with keeping her left ear clean and so she really likes it when we help itch it for her, and I can tell it's itchy because she was shaking her head like that.  Oh, is that good, is that good itch right there?  Okay.  Let's get back on this wheel.  

There you go.  Good girl.  Yep, you had itchy ears.  Do you wanna go the opposite direction?  Good job.  Look at her going.  She's just going on her own there.   Oh no!  Here it is.  Here.  There you go.  I like how she turned around, she was like, no, I want to go this direction.  Yeah, you did good.  Let's keep goin'.  Are you gonna get off now?  Do you wanna explore?  Hey, look, your food's up here.  She's like, okay, I'm done now.  Okay bye.  We'll continue to work on this with Ophelia, but I think we should try another animal.  I think Lollipop the skunk might be a really good candidate to run on this.  

 (06:00) to (08:00)

I think she'll really like it.  

So this is Lollipop.  She's a striped skunk and she was sleeping because skunks are nocturnal, but she loves her food so I think she's gonna be very excited to be a part of this.  Alright.  First off, would you like a treat?  Yeah.  Sleepy girl.  Okay, you wanna check this wheel out?  Let me put a treat there.  

Yeah, that's good, isn't it?  Yeah.  Oh, that one dropped off.  (?~6:54)  You just want the bowl?  What if I just hold the bowl in front of you?  You wanna take a little bite?  Okay now let go, whaa.  Good job, it moves, huh?  Good job.  There's your treat.  Was that too hard?  Here.  Good job.  Ah, she wasn't as nervous about it moving that time.  You're doing good.  You made it all the way around.  Yeah, good job!  You got it.  You're doing great.  Good.  Alright, get your treat.  Pick up all these extra treat.

Alright, we're gonna try and extend the walk a little bit before she gets her treat, extend the walk.  Good job!  Keep going.  Good job!  You get it, you get it.  There's like, a piece of food that's like, floating around on this thing and she keeps smelling it.  

 (08:00) to (09:44)

Alright.  Here we go.  Keep going, keep going.  Yeah, girl!  That was a good one, huh, that was a good treat.  She's doing really good!  Food motivation helps a lot.  You know what, I think we're gonna leave this wheel in with you and just see if you like walking on it.  I'll probably try and like, stick some food around it so like, as she goes, she's gonna be self-reinforced.  I don't know if she's gonna like, love to run on it, like, you know, but we'll see.  We'll see.  We'll keep practicing, huh?  

Hey, that was kind of fun.  Yeah.  She enjoyed it.  I think she enjoyed it mostly because the treats were involved.  I think the same with Ophelia, but it's going to be a very useful tool to keep both our skunk and our opossum so they are a healthy weight and they are moving around a lot more, especially when we can't take them on walks outside when it's so cold.

If you would like to see any of our other animals give it a go on the wheel, let us know in the comments below, and if you want to go on more animal adventures with us every week, be sure to subscribe and I'll see you next time.  Bye.