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Uploaded:2019-02-07
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Meet Tickles the hedgehog! She's adorable and grumpy and loves to push things off edges. She also poops... a lot.

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Hi.  I'm Jessi and this is Tickles the hedgehog.  She's an amazing ambassador for her species and I'd love to share her story with you.

(Intro)

Tickles found her way to Animal Wonders about a year ago and she's been meeting and teaching people all about hedgehogs ever since.  She's equal parts grumpy and curious, which is wonderful to be able to show audiences both sides of hedgie personalities.  

I like telling Tickles' adoption story because it highlights one of the main downsides to keeping a hedgehog as a pet: their poop, and while Tickles looks cute and innocent, this little spiky bundle comes with a surprise.

We first heard of Tickles when we got a call from a busy mother with four kids who had seen a hedgehog listed on Craiglist looking for a new home.  She got excited because her husband had an encountered wild hedgehogs on his job and they both loved them, so they met the previous caretaker and tried to learn as much as they could about Tickles' past.

She was about a year and a half old.  She'd had two previous homes, meaning she was on her third home and going into her fourth home.  The current owner had only had her for a week and was done with her.  She did come with her enclosure, her hidey hut, and a running wheel.  

Tickles went to her next home and the husband and wife took her out to cuddle and get to know her.  Tickles promptly pooped all over the husband.  Like.  A lot of poop.  Poops, oh, the poops, yeah.  So the wife took over and Tickles pooped on her, too.  She said it was too much for them to handle in that moment so they tucked her back into her home for the night.

So they woke up the next morning to find Tickles had smeared her poop all over her enclosure and her running wheel, which she had--oh, there's a poop--which she had also run in, so there was poop splattered all on the wall and the whole surrounding floor.

We were called later that day.  Now, I'm really glad they called, because Tickles has been passed around from home to home to home and she really needed some stability in her life.  I'm thankful they recognized that her care was too much for them to take on.  I'm also happy to be able to let them know that it's okay for a family not to be able to provide that level of maintenance cleaning.  Exotic animals can be challenging.

So we drove to pick up Tickles and see who she was and what we could offer her.  The first thing I saw was that her enclosure was tiny.  There was barely enough room for her wheel and hut to fit almost touching each other.  Her water and food dish took up the remaining corner.  No wonder she made an absolute mess of it in one night.  There was literally nowhere else for her to move to.

Once we set her up in a larger space, she was immediately curious.  She investigated every corner, toy, blanket, and hideout, and then, pooped.  A lot.  Should we pick up this poop right now?  Let's get it out of the way.  Eww.  It's sticky.  Should probably have used a paper towel ,but because she had a large space, the poops were easy to pick up.  Over the next few months, we got to know Tickles more and more.

She loves her huts and has taken to stacking one inside another and then snuggling inside both.  Interestingly, she does tend to poop when she's held, which is something I've never encountered with a hedgie before.  You might think it's stress poop because she gets scared when handled, but she's not rolled in a ball and hissing, she's cruising around eating snacks and exploring, so Tickles is a pooper.  That doesn't bother us much, but it's definitely an issue for the average pet owner, and hedgehog poop isn't just gooey and stinky, it's sticky and if it's smeared, it'll harden like glue to whatever it's touching, like my fingers, but it can also carry a bacteria called salmonella, which is bad news for humans who accidentally ingest it.  

It might seem like a no-brainer to not eat hedgehog poop, but it's' actually kinda easy for it to happen.  See, hedgehogs naturally roll in their own feces.  You can actually see her little poop spots there and there and on her head.  They use their own feces to increase the germs and irritation their quills cause when poked into a predator, so just touching a hedgehog means you likely have salmonella on your hands.  Then, all it takes is forgetting to wash your hands before eating and you've accidentally got hedgie poo in your mouth.

So thank you, Tickles, for being a wonderfully educational animal ambassador and for being wonderfully you.  Thank you for letting me share Tickles with you.  If you would like to meet more of our animals, you can check out our Meet & Greet playlist and if you'd like to learn more about animals and go on an adventure with us every week, subscribe and I'll see you soon.

(Endscreen/Credits)