Chickens and Hedgehogs and Kittens! Oh My!

I LOVE animals! Pretty much all animals, even the creepy crawlies. I’ve been known to stop and admire a spider chillin in a corner of our house instead of freaking out and killing it. I’ve never been scared of bugs, or mice, or snakes, they all seem cool to me. As a kid I remember my grade primary teacher getting mad when she found my “pet worms” in the pocket of my raincoat. Or the time when I ran over a snake with my bike and decided I wanted to keep it, found a cage, and fed him ants for a week. Over the years I’ve had many many different pets. A garter snake, hundreds of different frogs, tadpoles, fish, a salamander, gerbils, cats, and even a dog for a few months. For about a week I even kept a bumble bee in a mason jar and used to let it sit on my finger (no lie, I have pictures to prove it!). Shadoe was the same as a kid and always had at least one cat and/or dog and usually a lizard too. So it’s no surprise that after moving in together we started slowly collecting animals. Our dream is to one day have a cute little hobby farm with chickens, pot bellied pigs, maybe some sheep or goats and of course a cat and dog. So really, we’re just getting experience for the future!

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Baby Mr. Hedgie being shy his first few days at his new home.

Mr. Hedgehog was the first pet we acquired. We were living in an apartment in the city so we knew we wanted something small that could stay in a cage. I had read online that you can litter train hedgehogs and let them roam free in your apartment, but no matter how hard we tried our hedgie was untrainable. We’ve done some cool stuff with him over the past year. I built a big maze and tried to train him to run it for worms, his favorite treat, but he never really got the hang of it and tended to curl up and sleep instead.. We built him a paper mache house and eventually a platform making his cage two stories. We still let him out to run around so he doesn’t get bored always in his cage but he usually just hides. Hedgehogs are kind of a strange pet, and I don’t know if I’d recommend them for everyone. Even though they can learn who you are and not to be scared all the time they still have a strong fear of predators. Which includes you in their eyes. Any sudden movements or loud sounds and they curl up into a ball and have to be coaxed back out. You need to be very patient with them and let them do things on their terms.  That being said Mr. Hedgehog is absolutely the cutest thing ever and can be very amusing to watch. Hedgehogs self anoint meaning they like to chew up something that smells good to them, foam it, and spread it all over their quills which is hilarious to watch. Giving them treats is also fun. Mr. Hedgehog loves carrots, cheese, banana pancakes, and most importantly WORMS! He gobbles them up as quick as you can dig them out.

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Checking out his new digs, just in time as he out grew his old house.

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Lazy lazy hedgehog..

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Photo shoot. He’s not the best subject, kept running away to explore.

Once we moved out to the acreage we added a kitten to our collection. Being out in the country there are lots of wild cats all around, and on our property, and that means lots of kittens! I had found one litter sleeping in some insulation when we went to clean out the chicken coop. They all had eye infections, probably from insulation getting in them so I took them home and washed their eyes out every day. My friend suggested I give them some antibiotics since they weren’t clearing up on their own and it looked like they may loose their eyesight. I gave them a tiny dose and put them back in the old barn where the mom had moved them to. Then they disappeared. I was so sad, and thought I had killed them somehow for months (eventually we spotted all of them grown up, I was so relieved!). The next day when I went out to check on them there were different kittens sleeping in their spot! A tortoiseshell calico and an orange tabby. I instantly fell in love with the little calico who I knew from my genetics courses had to be a girl. Thinking the other kittens were dead and that she would probably die too if left out there I stole her from the barn! The first two days were terrible she cried and cried and wanted her mama. I almost put her back so many times but now I’m so happy that I didn’t! We named her Nuri and she was the cutest, tiniest little ball of fur and energy. Mr. Hedgehog and Nuri actually get along a lot better than we thought they would. He pretty much ignores her and goes about his business and she just likes to watch him since she learned he’s prickly to touch. Almost every day I end up laughing so hard at something Nuri’s doing. She’s super smart and even learned to play fetch! Pets in general just make life so much more enjoyable and I couldn’t imagine not having her now.

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Baby Nuri

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She grew up so fast! A month after taking her home.

Last but not least.. The Chickens! I’ve got 6 of them, rescued from battery cages. When I picked them up I couldn’t believe the environment they lived in.. it reeked of ammonia in the large barn with no outside light coming in and there were 5-6 chickens crammed into each tiny cage. Almost all of them missing feathers, all of them looking ragged and terrified. When I brought them home they were so scared of me. The first time they ever went outside they did so very cautiously and walking very funny, lifting their legs up way too high. It was super funny to watch them running around and rolling in the dirt and pecking everything. They love it outside now! Being layers they lay about 5-6 eggs every day! I give a dozen to my landlords for letting us use their old chicken coop and the rest that we don’t use go to friends when they visit or the neighbours. I love hanging out with the chickens now. If I’m in a bad mood, I just go over there and watching them always makes me smile. They’ve gotten so used to me now that when I go into the coop I call out “here chickens” and they all come running! I usually bring treats with me when I visit and a few of them have gotten so comfortable with me that they will “sit” in front of me and let me pet them or pick them up. I can’t wait until one day when we have our own land and I can have a big chicken coop and chicken garden for them.

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Everybody drinking water, and a messy coop..

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Escaped from the front door! They’re pretty easy to round up though.

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Their first day outside. Rolling around in the dirt. You can see how they’re missing a lot of feathers. They’ve grown in quite a bit now.

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