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Before she left for Chicago, Emily Graslie of The Brain Scoop sat down with Hank to discuss one of her favorite skulls from the from the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum. Then Jessi Knudsen CastaƱeda from Animal Wonders joined in with not just one, but two cavies to add to the conversation about all things cute and weird.

Want more animals? Check out Animal Wonders Inc. at or on YouTube at
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 Stump Hank

Hank: Hello and welcome to another episode of the SciShow Talk Show. Today we are joined by Emily Graslie, the host of The Brain Scoop.

Emily: Hey!

Hank: How you doing?

Emily: I'm awesome. How are you?

Hank: I'm good. 

Emily: Yay.

Hank: I always sort of dread your appearances on this show (Emily laughs) because I'm always super confused. Also, I hate you. 

Emily: Awww

Hank: I'm sorry, like, when I said "dread" you seemed so sad. But it is not because of you, I promise. It is because I have no -- I never have any idea -- I can't see the bones the way you see the bones.

Emily: (laughs) well- (off screen noise)

Hank: Our -- One of our visitors for later is crawling around in a cage. (both laugh)

Emily: I'm super excited to be here, and I hope it's not going to be too painful because I'm super excited about this specimen here. 

Hank: Okay.

Emily: And I'm going to hand it over to you.

Hank: We're gonna try and stump Hank.

Emily: It's possibly my favorite specimen in the museum and I know I say that about everything

Hank: While I look at this, can you sing the stump Hank theme song?

Emily: What is the stump Hank theme song? 

Hank: I don't know.

Emily: (singing, sort of) Today we're gonna stump Hank! Yay! 

Hank: That's good. Uh, this has weird teeth. 

Emily: Yes.

Hank: It has super weird teeth. 

Emily: Feel them. 

Hank: Woah! 

Emily: Yeah.

Hank: That's sharp. 

Emily: Super sharp. Like-

Hank: That makes me think that they continuously grow.

Emily: Yes. That's a great observation. They do. 

Hank: These ones are also super sharp. So all of its teeth continuously grow? 

Emily: Yeah.

Hank: That's weird. That's not normal. 

Emily: What do you think it eats? 

Hank: I don't, I don't -- Something hard. 

Emily: Kind of. Something hard to digest. 

Hank: Oh. Huh? (Emily laughs) But it's not hard? 

Emily: Well-

Hank: I was thinking like, like, tree matter. 

Emily: Yeah, yeah, close.

Hank: That's hard! Tree is hard. 

Emily: Yeah, well. I mean-

Hank: Close? It's close.

Emily: Those kind of fibrous things. 

Hank: Okay.

Emily: I'm totally giving it away. 

Hank: You're totally giving it away?

Emily: Totally. 

Hank: You're not totally giving it away! (laughs) You always think you're giving me hints and you're not. There's so many animals, Emily. It is fairly large. I don't -- Is it a, uh, is it, is it -- Does it swim?

Emily: Yes! It's very good at swimming. Surprisingly. 

Hank: Is it, is it, is it, oh god, I know what it is. I think. No. I don't think I do. (laughs) 'Cause you said surprisingly. 

Emily: Yeah.

Hank: I thought it was, uh, what are they -- What are those things that are like beavers but they're small? Muskrat. 

Emily: No, it's not a muskrat. 

Hank: Muskrat. 

Emily: This is -- This lives in a tropical region. I'll give that hint to you.

Hank: Does it -- Have I ever lived in a place where it lives? 

Emily: I don't know. 

Hank: Does it live in America? 

Emily: Um, South America. 

Hank: Okay, Okay, so, do I know what this thing is called? 

Emily: Yes! Yes. I'm sure you've seen adorable videos of them on the internet. 

Hank: Is it an otter? 

Emily: No! 

Hank: That's all the adorable videos I watch are otters. 

Emily: OK, so it lives in a tropical area.
Hank: Yeah.

Emily: It is surprisingly good at swimming because otherwise it's not very good at moving. 

Hank: It's a bad land walker. 

Emily: Yeah. Terrible. Moves at a staggering six and a half feet a minute.

Hank: Is it a sloth? 

Emily: YES!

Hank: It's a sloth head. 

Emily: It's a sloth! Look how crazy its teeth are! You would -- Sloths are so cute.

Hank: Yeah. I would not have guessed. Super sharp teeth. 

Emily: Yeah, yeah. 

Hank: But they're just going to bite you very slowly. 

Emily: Yeah, it's like nooo, ooow.

Hank: That's sharp. 

Emily: It has to have incredibly sharp teeth because of its diet, um, they don't -- The things that they kind of eat don't offer them any energy. So it's eating all this plant material and basically that just sits in its guts for weeks at a time. It comes down to the ground to defecate about once a week and it takes a very long time to do so. That's the only time they ever go to the ground. Um, they do everything hanging upside-down. They eat, they sleep, they give birth, they mate. Sometimes they'll even die clutching onto a branch and they'll just hang there after they're dead, because they're just hanging out. They're -- They dislike moving so much that their digits have fused together so, like, literally they can't move its two fingers apart, it just *neert, neert, neert* they're so -- They're the best. I love sloths. 

Hank: So you said that it's a good swimmer?

Emily: Yeah!

Hank: I did not know that about sloths. 

Emily: Yeah! Yeah. Um, 'cause they aren't very good at crawling on land. Their arms are too long.

Hank: But when -- How do they even end up in the water? 

Emily: Well, I guess if they're evading creatures or if they're trying to expand their habitat. Like, the average geographical range of a sloth is one or two trees. (Hanks laughs) So, so, you know, they have to move away from home eventually and they're not very good at walking so they'll find like a little channel and they'll get in the water. Um, another one of my favorite things about sloths, and I have to share this, is that they symbiotic relationships with certain species of algae. So there are certain kinds of algae that grow on sloths that are only found in the fur of sloths. It's so the whole -- The only place that this kind of algae exists is in its fur. It's fascinating, that-

Hank: That is really weird. 

Emily: Yeah. 

Hank: Also, that they just have algae growing on them. 

Emily: Well, yeah.

Hank: 'Cause that's how slow they move. 

Emily: It's because they move slowly and their fur is a really good insulator against the rainy season, so then the algae will start to grow on them, it works as a camouflage. It's a great relationship. And then the algae fosters all kinds of little parasites that help keep them clean and there are whole colonies of moths and insects that live on sloths. (Hank laughs) It's the best. Sloths are so cool. 

Hank: It's like the sloth is the world

Emily: Yeah, yeah.

Hank: to some of these things. That is amazing. 

Emily: So, I thought I'd, you know, bring him in.

Hank: That was a very fun one. 

Emily: Good.

Hank: Thanks. 

Emily: I'm glad you liked it. 

Hank: Now we're going to be joined by something that isn't a sloth.

Emily: Yes. 

Hank: But it is also adorable.

Emily: Yeah. I'm also super excited about this. 

 Special Guest

Hank: What. Do. We. Have. Here?

Jessi: This is Chili Pepper.  He is a Patagonian Cavy.

Hank: Ahh!

Emily: This is the best thing I've ever seen. 

Jessi: This is the third largest rodent in the world.

Hank: You're a big rodent.

Jessi: And a lot of people think he looks like a kangaroo and that's kind of like the way I'm holding him, but I'm gonna go ahead and set him on the table here. And you can see that he actually -- He stands like a deer, so he stands on all four.

Hank: Yeah, you're like a deer bunny.

Emily: Wow! Oh, he's gonna eat the table cloth.

Jessi: Would you like a treat?

Hank: "I would. I would like some table cloth."

Jessi: Would you like to feed him a treat?  Hey, Pepper, over here.

Hank: Chili Pepper! What's this? Can-

Jessi: Table cloth is delicious

Hank: No, table cloth is my favorite treat. What's this.

Emily: Nom, noms. Oh my god! He's so cute! Look at those eyes!

Hank: That is an adorable animal.

Jessi: So we actually have his skull here and-

Hank: Well it's not his skull!

Jessi: I wanted to talk about -- It's not, it's not his skull. So, he's a rodent, so like I said, third largest rodent in the world and rodents are rodents because of these teeth that they have.  They have ever growing incisors, two on the top and two on the bottom. And they're going to use those to chisel their food like that. And they have no teeth in the middle. You know you can-

Emily: Yeah
Hank: Yeah. Just two - just - just four teeth total. 

Emily: Yeah.

Jessi: Well, and then they have all these molars back there.

Emily: Yeah.

Hank: Oh, they have those back there.

Jessi: So that's what he's doing right now. So he's crunching with his front, and now right now he's grinding it back with those very strong jaw muscles back there.

Hank: Oh, you have cool ears. 

Emily: He's so cool. 

Jessi: His ears. And actually, he is pretty friendly. You can actually feel those ears if you'd like.

Hank: Oh, they're hard. 

Jessi: They're hard. Yeah, they're not soft like a rabbit would.

Emily: Sorry. 

Hank: Yeah.

Emily: Ooh, yeah. 

Jessi: See? And so they can't actually move those ears different directions like a rabbit can. They just stay that - those directions, and so they're gonna -
It - it is hairy, but you - you're the one that's making it hairy, buddy.
Oh! There he goes. 

Hank: Oh! You are covered in hair. So, South America?

Jessi: South America, yeah. So, Patagonia, Argentina. Very tip.

Hank: Right.

Jessi: They live in the grasslands, edge of the forests there. And they're going to live in herds. And - 

Hank: So they are, they're like a - they're like deer.

Jessi: Kind of. But, they have a different - a little bit of a different, hierarchy or system I guess. Social system. They actually are monogamous, they pair for life.

Emily: Aww.

Jessi: They live about - not very long in the wild. Maybe 4-5 years in the wild, but they can live about 15 years in captivity. So they're going to be monogamous, mate for life, and they're gonna ha- but they're gonna have a bunch of pairs together, so they're gonna live in a herd.  So, one pair is going to sit and watch all the babies. Now, they make this big hole. So, like rabbits, they live in a burrows called a créche.

Hank: Oooh.

Jessi: And, down that hole they all keep their babies down there, but the females won't feed each other's babies. They only feed their own. So, one will crawl down there and feed the babies. So, one pair's going to keep watch, I guess, over the den, while all the other ones go off an eat. And then, one pair's going to come back, and they're going to switch patrol, I guess.

Emily: When you say herd, I think of that scene in The Lion King when the wildebeests come over the cliff.

Jessi: Oooh, yeah. 

Emily: And like I - now I'm imagining a herd of - of cavies, and I could -  it would just be so adorable. I'd be like, "oh -

Jessi: Oh, a herd of cavies coming.

Emily: you can stampede me."

Jessi: And these guys, they're not gonna, they're not gonna hurt anyone. Yeah.

Emily: Yeah.

Jessi: They're not gonna -

Hank: No

Jessi: They are herbivores, so they only eat - well, he's eating some apple right now. But in the wild, they eat mostly grasses, different kinds of grasses. So he's a - he's a Patagonian cavy. Now, there's a couple different animals in the cavy family. There's the capybara, which is the largest rodent in the world. And there's also another, very common animal for a cavy - in the cavy family.  And, we actually have his best friend here. His name is Patches. And -

Hank: So they like to have, like you like to have Chili Pepper having company.

Jessi: He does. He really likes company.

Emily: He likes friends. They have play dates.

Hank: Doesn't like to be all by himself.

Jessi: They, they live together. 

Emily: Oh, wow. Roomies.

Jessi: So, we can go ahead and bring Patches on over here.

Emily: Oh my gosh!

Jessi: And Emily, would you like to hold Patches?

Emily: Ye - uh, would I? Yes. Oh my god! I can see why he's called Patches!

Hank: So, you're - you're a cavy too?

Emily: Oh my gosh!

Jessi: He is a cavy. What makes a cavy is four toes in the front, and three toes in the back.

Hank: You only have 3 toes.

Emily: Whoa, yeah.

Jessi: So he - guinea pigs as well have those.

Emily: So adorable.

Jessi: Yeah, so these guys are -

Hank: So, you're monogamous pair?

Jessi: These two are two boys, they're best buds. They hang out. But guinea pigs actually you wouldn't find one of these guys in the wild. I mean, obviously,

Hank: Yeah. 

Jessi: the coloration wouldn't help him very much. They're going to be about the same color as Chili Pepper here to blend in, and they're going to be a little bit smaller. So people have - Come here Pepper, I'm going to go ahead and pick you up. People have domesticated the guinea pig, and they've domesticated it for a interesting reason.

Hank: Mhmm.

Jessi: Just like we've domesticated chickens. They domesticate guinea pigs for food and it's - the Peruvians have done that.

Hank: Are you delicious?

Emily: Listen to him!

Jessi: He's protesting right now. Say "I am NOT delicious. I am handsome!"

Emily: Want to do that into the microphone? Oooh, so cute!

Jessi: And Chili Pepper, actually he - the cavies talk like that too. They do those little whistles and grunts and growls and things like that. He also purrs.

Hank: Well, Chili Pepper and Patches, I thank you so much for visiting us today. I love you. I love your face.

Emily: Yeah. 

Hank: Yeah. And thanks for coming in, Jessi. 

Jessi: Thanks for having us.

Hank: It was really fantastic. And thank you for watching the SciShow Talk Show. If you want to keep getting smarter with us here at SciShow, you can go to and subscribe. Adorable.

Emily: Yay.