MagAO-X 2020A Stay At Home Day 21: A new addition (it’s a girl!)

My household grew by one yesterday!  Meet Star:

Star is a baby african pygmy hedgehog

She’s a baby African Pygmy Hedgehog. She was born on Feb 20th, 2020, and is still so so tiny! I got her from a local breeder, Tucson Hedgehogs, who take extraordinary care of their babies, training them and adapting them to being held, and make sure they are going to a good home by inspecting habitats before approving adoptions. The whole operation was professional and made me feel confident adopting a hedgehog from them.

Here’s the habitat I made for her out of a $10 kiddie pool:

A tour of Star’s living situation. The black dangling cord is a thermometer probe, and there is a heat lamp above.

Hedgehogs run like crazy at night, so the big pool was a good option to give her lots of room to run. The running wheel was popular last night. Hedgehogs are prey animals, so the thing they most want to do is burrow and hide, which she has plenty of opportunities for here. This morning I found her under the blue snuggle sack (not inside?). That’s why they love toilet paper rolls too, they stick their little heads inside and push them around and run around with them. I’ll try to get y’all a video or something when she does it, it’s pretty great. There is also a thermometer and heat lamp. Hedgehogs try to hibernate if it gets too cold, and that can be bad for their health, so hedgie owners have to be sure their environment is kept warm enough.

Here’s some more hedgehog facts. They are insectivores, and they’re actually immune to scorpion venom! They’re nocturnal, but they can be adapted to operate somewhat during the daytime, and can also be trained to use cat litter! But otherwise they’re not very smart, so that’s about all the training we can expect really. They’re also nearly blind, but their hearing and smell are top notch. They do this strange behavior that animal behaviorists aren’t quite sure why, called self-anointing. When a hedgie smells or tastes something new and exciting, they froth up and lick their spit all over their quills. It’s funny and kinda gross.

Self-Anointing - Millermeade Farm's Critter Connection
A hedgehog self-anointing. Image credit:

The popular pets in America are the African pygmy variety, which are related to but very different from their European cousins. African pygmy hedgies actually don’t exist in the wild, they’re only kept as pets!

European hedgehog - Wikipedia
European hedgehogs are pretty cute too.

Here’s some more Star glamour shots.

Lastly, if you’ve been to my house or known me for a few minutes, you might know I have a bit of a thing for hedgehogs. So I wanted to finish off with a snapshot of the other hedgehogs in my house…

That’s not close to all of them. People give me hedgehog things all the time, and I do nothing to discourage this behavior. In my former life as a middle school teacher, my students learned of my hedgehog habit and the gifts started rolling in. It was magical. (Pro tip: if you ever need to entertain ~30 twelve year olds for about 5 minutes while you wait for the bell to ring, I can wholeheartedly recommend hedgehog videos on YouTube. Also OK Go videos.)

In honor of how cute Star is, song of the day is Cute Explosion by MrWeebl: