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Duration:06:51
Uploaded:2020-09-17
Last sync:2020-10-10 18:15
Jessi takes Cayenne and Chili Pepper the Patagonian Cavies for a walk outside on 20' leashes. It's no easy feat to keep them calm and focused so they don't get tangled but also ensure a good time is had by all. Watch how they make it work!

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Welcome back to Animal Wonders!

I’m Jessi. This is Cayenne and this is Chili Pepper the Patagonian cavies, also known as Patagonian maras.

I’d like to take these two for a walk, and I thought you might find it interesting seeing how it goes taking them for a walk outside on a leash. [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC]. So first things first, I’ve got my pouch of treats here because every good hangout involves treat, right? Hi!

Yeah. There's your treats little Chili Pepper. Good boy.

So I’ve chopped up some fresh fruit. I have some pear and apple in there. And I have these little timothy hay baked cookie treats.

And also Chili Pepper's favorite, which is actually kangaroo diet, it's for kangaroo's, but he just loves them, so I always bring them along. So we use the kangaroo diet for training treats so everyone has a fun time. I mean, obviously they love it.

Look at that! [LAUGHS] Now, these two are bonded companions, which means they enjoy each other’s company and they miss each other when the other's gone. They each get one on one time with me, and they like going on walks. And they travel separately for public presentations, but it’s also nice to share experiences all together.

So let’s get these two cuties harnessed up and go outside for a walk. Now, when you’re interacting with another animal, you can never know exactly what they’re thinking. All you can do is guess based on what and how they’re communicating.

And since we can’t just talk to each other, I have to rely on my observations on their body language to help me guess what’s going on inside their mind. To do this I have to have a good idea of their natural environment and what they would need to do in order to survive there. This means I need to know their natural history and have an understanding of how they communicate to each other.

Since Patagonian cavies are prey animals with a lot of predators in the wild,. I know that they will be wary of new locations, sounds, and smells. They have to be on alert so they can avoid getting caught by a predator.

You can see they have heightened senses, with those large eyes located on the sides of their head for 360 degree vision. And their large ears and nose sensing any potential danger they might not be able to see. And if they do detect danger, they're very fast, using those long legs with good gripping nails to quickly launch themselves out of harm's way.

So, as they get used to the new space, I have to make sure I’m making this a positive experience. I don’t want them getting too spooked, which might make them reticent to go on a walk the next time because they might remember the feeling of stress they had last time, which would increase their stress about going on walks. So that’s where the treats come in!

Chili Pepper and Cayenne both have a strong foundation in basic training, meaning they know that I deliver treats, and they have some established behaviors including target and spin. So let's see if I can get them to target now. Can you come here?

Can you target? Good girl! Come here, Chili Pepper! [WHISTLES] Come here!

Good job, buddies! Let's try a spin. Spin!

Good boy! There ya go. Nice work.

So I’ll use the training to get them comfortable and feeling confident and ready to explore. Now the yard is a safe space for them and we come out here enough that it can actually get a little boring, so we also go on walks in the forest, in the meadow, and we go on runs down our secluded country road. But this is where it can get tricky.

Taking two prey animals outside on 20-foot leashes is not something to take lightly. These guys can run up to 40 miles an hour if they get scared, and I don’t want them to get spooked so bad that they take off faster than I can run after them. Their legs are thin and delicate, and they're just really powerful animals that are also easily hurt if they move in a panicked way.

So my job is to keep them happy enough that they enjoy themselves, but calm enough that no one gets hurt. Now,they are a herd animal, so they usually like to move together, which means I usually don’t have to try extra hard to get them to move with me. They mostly like to follow, but not all the time.

So you might think this is as easy as walking two dogs on a leash, but it’s actually quite different. They guys are not a domesticated species. They are a wild animal because they haven't spent thousands and thousands of years growing up and living with humans.

So even though they are tame, they are still wild animals. So I have to always keep my eyes on them, watching for any subtle communications that they might be nervous or they might be about to spook. I also have to make pay close attention to these leashes.

They give them the freedom to move about, but I have to be very careful that they don't get tangled around their legs, causing serious issues, huh? Cayenne, did you come for a treat? Look!

Yay! That's the good stuff, huh? There ya go.

Did you settle down enough to eat your treats? Can you target? Good!

Thank you. You did, too! Good job, buddy.

Can we do a circle? No. And she's off!

Whoa! [LAUGHS] So I'm also looking for any opportunities to reinforce their bond with me. So reinforcing interactions or focusing on me is really good. Can you target?

Good boy! So I can go back to those basic behaviors that are well established, like target. Cayenne!

Can you target? Good girl! The reason that I want to continue to reinforce their bond to me is because I want to make sure that if we ever end up in a situation where I need them to come to me in a hurry, the behavior is well established.

Ah, these guys are so fun! I love that they have each other for company and we get to enjoy this beautiful weather and this beautiful day. We have over 90 animals at our organization, so we have to work really hard to make sure everyone is happy and healthy.

Whether this is your first time watching or you’ve been around from the beginning or anywhere in between, thank you so much for being part of our community! And thanks for watching Animal Wonders, which is produced by Complexly. If you’re a US citizen and you want to not only keep imagining the world complexly with us but also have a voice in your government, check out How To Vote In Every State.

This year we also put together a guide for first-time voters with help from our friends at MediaWise to help you navigate everything from your news diet, to political ads, to money in politics. Check it out at YouTube.com/HowToVoteInEveryState. Thanks, and I'll see you next week.

Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC].