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What do you do when the unexpected happens? Jessi explains what happened between Chili Pepper the Patagonian cavy and Kizmit the African crested porcupine.

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Hi guys.  Welcome back to Animal Wonders.  I'm Jessi and today I'd like to share a challenge that we're having with two of our animals.  I want to share this story because you guys might also be facing challenges at home when trying to cohabitate the animals in your life.


For the last 18 months, we were excited to have our African crested porcupine Kizmit and Patagonian cavy Chili Pepper sharing a home and providing each other company.  We love seeing them socialize so well.  They would groom each other and Kizzie would lick Chili Pepper and Chili Pepper would purr his happiness and they would frolic and dig together out in the romping room.  We did have one problem.  When Kizzie was about a year old, she bit Chili Pepper on his skinny back leg and her tooth nicked his artery, causing him to bleed a lot.  We were able to compress the wound and stop the bleeding and our vet helped mend it by putting a small stitch in the blood vessel.  Chili Pepper had a bandage for about a week and Kizmit wasn't allowed in with him, because she'd just chew the bandage off. 

We were cautious about their reintroduction, but Kizzie and Chili Pepper were so happy to be reunited and they did great...for about six months, and then one morning, we heard a loud noise.  We rushed in and found Kizmit all frazzled, running around in the romping room with her quills up and stomping her back legs.  Chili Pepper was in the other room growling and limping on his back left leg.  We didn't know what happened but we knew Chili Pepper needed help.

Upon examination, we found his middle toenail was missing.  Cavies have three toes on their back feet and the middle is the largest and longest.  Chili Pepper's toe was bleeding, so we quickly rinsed and applied pressure with gauze to stop the bleeding, and then we wrapped his foot in a bandage.  We didn't know what happened, but it was possible that Kizzie tried biting Chili Pepper again, and to get away, he kicked out and got his nail caught on something, and because of that, it was too risky to continue letting them be together. 

Since we do have limited housing for large rodents that could literally chew through a house, we had to make use of what we already had chew-proofed.  We put Kizzie out in the romping room and locked off the door to the other area.  Chili Pepper is now hanging out in there with just his guinea pig friends.  He does get to run around in the romping room whenever Kizmit goes on a walk or out to a presentation.  As they stayed separated over the next few weeks, we eagerly waited for Chili Pepper to heal up and grow his nail back so we can get him outside for some summer walks.  

Unfortunately, things didn't go as we had hoped.  Despite being wrapped, his toe swelled up and after a course of antibiotics, his nail still hadn't regrown.  Chili Pepper went into the vet for an X-Ray and it showed that the tip of his toe was broken in a way that the nail will never grow back.  Since there was no chance the nail would come back and it was painful for him to walk on, the best course of action was to remove the tip of his toe.  So Chili Pepper is currently recuperating from his surgery and even though he's now missing his toe, he's feeling so much better.  

Once he's no longer limping, I'm looking forward to getting him back outside and going on adventures in the forest.  Now, the romping room that Kizmit is living in currently was built for Chili Pepper in the first place, so it's not really fair that Kizzie gets it all to herself.  I'm always looking for creative ways to give the animals a happy life, and I have a new plan.

It's too dangerous to reintroduce Chili Pepper to Kizmit, so instead of doing that, I'm going to have them take turns in the romping room.  We're going to build a new inside space for Kizmit on the other side of the romping room and she'll have her own entrance door that can be closed off.  Kizmit will have access to the romping room at night since she's nocturnal and Chili Pepper will have access to the romping room during the day since he's diurnal.  When it's not their time for the romping room, we'll close their access doors and they'll spend their time in the other room.  This way, both have lots of time to play and dig in the romping room and there's no risk of Kizmit hurting Chili Pepper.  

I find it interesting that of all the problems that might occur when housing a porcupine with another animal, Kizmit's quills played no role in this separation.  Kizzie is a very sweet girl and she's never tried to quill Chili Pepper or the guinea pigs.  My best guess is that she was getting a bit obsessed with grooming Chili Pepper and he got upset and tried to kick her and hurt himself instead. 

Even though they do get along quite well, it's just too much of a risk to Chili Pepper's health to let them cohabitate.  The lesson to take away from this situation is that animals aren't always consistent and when they change, it's essential that their caregivers change with them.  I understand that just because I want these two animals to get along, that's not something I have control over . I do, however, have control over how I respond and the homes that I can provide them from now on. 

If you have cats, dogs, birds, guinea pigs, or whatever that don't get along in the same space, it's up to you to provide them safe spaces apart and help them live a happy and healthy life, even if it's not exactly how you imagined things would work out.  

I hope you're doing well with all of your animals and wish you the best with any challenges you may be facing.  Thank you to all of our Patreon Patrons for allowing us to continue sharing our experiences and knowledge about animals.  If you'd like to support our educational mission, you can join our community by going to and check out the perks you can get by giving a monthly pledge.

I hope you enjoyed seeing Chili Pepper and Kizmit again, and if you have any questions about them, please leave them in the comments below, and if you'd like to go on an adventure with us every week, don't forget to subscribe.  I'll see you next week.