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Kizmit the African crested porcupine is a bunch of sweetness covered in quills. She loves attention! Maui and Ginger the green cheeked conures are wonderful and Jessi shares why it's fun to spend time with all of them.

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Welcome back to Animal Wonders.  I'm Jessi and today, we are going to be doing a hangout with the animals which just means we're going to spend some time with them without any agenda.  We're just gonna have fun.

First up, we're going to spend some time with Kizmit the African-crested porcupine and then, we're gonna visit with two of our bird friends.


Right now, we're in the romping room, which was built by the help of all of these wonderful people and in thanks, we put their names on the walls.  Kizmit is right through that door.  I'm going to go ahead and let her come in.  Hey pretty girl!  You wanna go say hi to Maia?  Oh, she's gonna hang out with us today.  This is how we greet each other.   She comes up and she licks or grooms my arm while I use my thumb to kind of lick and groom her as well.

She loves getting her pets and sometimes she'll even climb into my lap.  In the wild, African-crested porcupines, they live with their family group and they do a ton of socializing.  They have this really wiry fur and it does get greasy and so they groom themselves, but they will also spend quite a bit of time grooming each other as well.  

So you can see, she's really sweet, but uh, her back half can be pretty intimidating so those quills, they can actually run through a lion, so they can be quite dangerous, but she really only uses those quills--come up here--when she's scared or frustrated.  I said these guys are really social, which makes it really fun for both of us to interact and have these little hangout sessions, because socializing is so rewarding to her and she's also very smart and food motivated.  It actually makes training really easy for her.  Hi babes.  Hi.  Oh, yes, yes.  

 (02:00) to (04:00)

So we do a lot of training.  She has learned how to target and circle and go into a crate and we've even worked on going on walks.  Now, going on walks may sound easy because a lot of us are used to doing that with our dog, but finding a collar that fits on a porcupine is a little more challenging than you might think.  So what we have figured out is using a dog collar and putting it around her chest and I kind of want to see if she wants to do that right now.

So when I trained her to put a collar on, we had to go really slow because it's kind of an unusual thing to have something strapped around you and so we used tons of treats and she has to totally be willing to participate in this activity because we can't make a porcupine do something they don't wanna do.  They have to want to do it.  So what I'm going to do is have her come around to my other side.  Come on up here.  There, you eat your treats.  They're all on my lap there.  There you go.  Nicely done!  

Alright, so the other challenge, once I get it on there, we're good, the other challenge is actually taking her for a walk because she doesn't really like how the leash feels on her back quills, so that's what we've been practicing so far.  I'm giving tons of treats, very very reinforcing for her.  Let's go ahead and just walk around a little bit.  

Got it?  There's lots of sticks around.  Can you get past them?  Here.  Let me help.  Good girl.  And now stand right on here.  Good girl.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

So because she has the collar and leash on, she feels it on her body and sometimes she feels the need to want to back out of it and so giving her lots of things to focus on is really important.  If I just kinda let her do what she wanted to do, she would get pretty focused on feeling the weird feeling around her, and so I like to give her a target, good girl, and you see that I was having her step up onto that stump which she feels, she's like, I know how to do this, I feel confident in this.  Here, come on this way.  Good girl, and so she feels confident and she feels comfortable.  Good job.  

Now, I'm going to do something a little, a little different for her.  I'm going to slightly pull on the leash just a tiny bit so that she can feel it and then I'm going to reward her for just ignoring it.  So I pull on it.  Good.  Gonna pull on it.  Good.  So I really don't even want her to react to it.  I just want to pull on it so it becomes a normal thing.  See how she's pretty much ignoring it now, which is great.  

Alright, I'm going to ask her to do one of her behaviors.  She does a circle.  Do a circle.  Good girl.  Alright, that is pretty good.  I'm gonna go ahead and take it off of her.  This is just a mini-session.  Take that off.  All done.  What a pretty porcupine!  Yes, you are.  So, we are still working on our walks.  We walk around inside on a leash.  She goes to presentations so she'd be like, walking around in a big gymnasium or outside in a field in front of a big audience.  We are not gonna go outside today because it is three degrees Fahrenheit.  It is very cold outside right now and neither of us would like that very much.  

 (06:00) to (08:00)

You can see that she is very into attention and getting tons of pets and treats.  I'm gonna go ahead and give her the rest of these treats.  She's gonna chow down a little bit.  Normally, all of her food would be hidden in things that she needs to find or dig into so like, a cardboard box that she has to rip into or hidden under some soil in a pot or hidden around, like just even under a log or something, and that's all the food.  We're all done with the food.

So some other things that she really enjoys are adventures and then also painting.  She enjoys getting out and making paintings so that's something that I enjoy doing, she enjoys doing, and then we can actually sell her artwork to raise funds for her food, 'cause she likes to eat a lot  (?~7:02) little chin kisses now?  If you are interested in some of Kizmit's artwork, it is for sale on  I put the link in the description.  You can actually get some that she's already made or you can request custom colors and we'll do it just for you.

So Kizmit requires a ton of interaction.  She craves it, she likes it, and so we spend a good deal of time just being in here with her and taking her on walks and giving her lots of different kinds of enrichment.  Alright, Kizzie.  We had fun, huh?  Yeah?  But now, it's time for us to go visit some other friends and say goodbye to you.  Can you say goodbye?  Say goodbye?  Sniffy sniffy sniffer.

This is Ginger and Maui and they're both green cheek conures.  Maui is a different color.  She's actually called a pineapple green cheeked conure, and that is just a color mtation.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

These two are bonded to each other but they still enjoy interaction from me, which is one of my favorite dynamics in captive birds.  The reason I like this set-up so much is because they are companions for each other.  They get all their social needs met 24/7, but they also enjoy interaction with humans, which is a great set-up for training sessions.  Because interacting with me is rewarding for them and I also have treats that they like, we can do lots of training.  

Maui has been trained to be very comfortable on a hand and go out to presentations.  She will actually take seeds from other people and even step onto their fingers.  Ginger has a personality a little bit more typical to green cheek conures where they pretty much like one person and everyone else is kinda off limits.  Ginger has been trained to fly back to me, so if she does slip off my shoulder, she'll just do a big circle and then land right back on to my head.  

These gals do spend a lot of time playing in their enclosure, but when they come out, we like to have a lot of fun, too.  Maui's favorite thing to do is to hang upside down, which she'll do all the time in her home, but she does--she'll just like, be totally comfortable hanging upside down like this.  Ginger does not hang upside down and I think the main reason is because she's actually missing her toenails.  There you go, baby girl.  You can see that her toes are malformed.  She has no nails anymore and instead of having zygodactylist feet, the two toes on the front and the two toes on the back, her toes have kind of moved all forward.  This one will move backwards a little bit to help her hold on like that, but she doesn't have very good grip, and because of this, I do keep her on my shoulder quite a bit.  She does like climbing up shirts.  She is a very good climber but she will sometimes slip off my shoulder.  She is fully flighted, so if she does slip off anything, she can catch herself and she's very good about not getting into trouble and coming right back to me.

 (10:00) to (12:00)

So what I'd like to do is show you how she flies around.  I don't want to like, push her off my shoulder or anything, so what I'm going to do is set her somewhere and then she will come flying back to me.  Ginger will fly to just me, but it actually is more rewarding if Maui is with me as well so both of us together is like what she wants.  So, when Ginger flies, sometimes Maui gets excited too, and she'll flutter around and she's not a very good flyer, so I'm just gonna keep her on my hand with my finger over her toes so if she does flutter, she doesn't fly and crash into something.  You step right on to that, Ginger.  There you go.  Alright, you ready?  Come here, Ginger.  Good job!   What a good job!  You pretty bird.  Yes, you are.  Here's a shoulder.  There you go.  Here.  Wonderful.  You, too, Maui, you did great.

I get asked a lot if our birds are fully flighted and what my recommendation is for trimming pet bird wings.  I would say that's a really personal  decision and each situation needs to be looked at individually.  Ginger is an excellent candidate to be fully flighted because of her toes and she can't grip very well, but also she has very controlled flight and she really doesn't go and get into trouble.

Maui, on the other hand, when we started training her for free flight, she really wasn't very good at controlling herself and she ended up crashing a lot and hurting herself.  It's unfortunate that we can't keep her fully flighted.  I would love it if we could, and that's something that we can always work toward in the future.  Right now, Maui has enough flight feathers that she's not gonna land hard if she does spook off my hand, but she doesn't have enough flight feathers to get up with some lift and crash into a window or something, so if your bird can be fully flighted, that's the best thing for them, but if there's dangers in the household or they're not a good enough flyer yet, you need to be very cautious.  

So my other favorite thing to do with these two little gals is to sing, because they like to dance and kind of join in.

 (12:00) to (14:00)

So let's see if they wanna sing a song.  Do you wanna sing a song, guys?  How about, If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.  If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.  If you're happy and you know and you really wanna show it, if you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

Green cheek conures are a fairly common species for a first time bird and they can be quite cuddly but not all of them are going to be.  Maui will let me give her little pets on her head like this, but it's not her favorite kind of interaction.  Mostly she likes to sing and dance, hang upside down, and just see new sights.  Ginger is pretty hands-on.  I do have to let her know I'm coming because she can't step up very well, so it has to be a full hand grab for her.  She can sit on my hand, but she is quite uncomfortable.  You can see that she doesn't like to be very exposed.  She likes to feel really secure.  One of her more secure holds is this, so she can put her feet on me, but also she feels like she's definitely not gonna fall off.  She does let me give her little pets on her head as well and she's a pretty cuddly little girl, but again, she only does that with me and not with others.  You wanna head back up there, don't ya?  There you go, you got it.  Get cozied in there.  Get my hair out of your face.  There you go, cuties.

I love getting to hang out with these two, but I also really like that their happiness isn't totally dependent on me interacting with them.  They have each other and that's perfect.  I hope you've enjoyed getting to spend time with some of the animals today and getting a glimpse into what I do when I'm not doing public presentations.  

Thanks for watching, and if you'd like to go on an animal adventure with us every week, be sure to subscribe and I'll see you next week.  Bye.


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