Vera Lee, The Northern Hedgehog
This is Vera Lee (formally Wilma) who was rescued by me from Oswego New York, which is located in the southeast corner of Lake Ontario, 3 hours south of me. Her story is like many others, adopted as a cute baby by a family, parents and two daughters, one 11 and the other roughly 6. Low and behold after about a year, the 11 year old who was her owner 'lost interest' in her, and thus she ended up on Craigslist. Then comes me, a 28 year old truck driver (not an over the road type, one who is home every night) who suddenly had the urge to adopt a hedgehog, NOT because I saw some cute youtube videos or it became a fad up here in the backwoods of New York, but well, I really can't say what fueled the reason.
One main reason was I had a ferret a few years ago, my family was involved with the local animal shelter here and one day, a ferret came in from some horrid animal hoarders house. This guy had dogs, cats, birds, and this ferret that was in a bird cage with literally half a foot of her own crap built up at the bottom. She sat in the shelter for a few months and we finally brought her home where she lived the life of a queen. But I found a ferret not quite the exotic animal I wanted, they're fun and goofy but I didn't really enjoy trying to do work at my computer desk and having my feet attacked or her attempting to burrow up my pant leg. No I didn't cast "Weezer" into the darkness, actually she was upgraded to Ferret Heaven, aka my brother who lives down in Phillie and has had a herd of well cared for ferrets for over a decade, so she went from being a Princess here to Queen Ferret down in Phillie Town, and is now the elder of the herd.
Many years before the ferret, we had raised a pair of skunks, HIGHLY illegal to have in New York due to rabies. We had demolished an old shed of ours and my father found them in a nest underneath. We left them out for a night hoping the mother would come and relocate them, but she never came. Sadly many months later we found her, dead right near the shed and obviously was killed in the demolish. Spike and Blossum, boy and girl and we raised them from new borns to full fat (actually overweight) skunks, then underground railroaded them to a place near Buffalo New York to a wildlife rehab. Spike rejoined his wild brothers while Blossum was kept to educate kids and help raise orphan skunks.
So exotic animals are nothing new around here, but I must say, Hedgehogs are definitely a breed of their own. Roughly around January I started to lightly research Hedgehogs, their personalities, how to care for them, though even I'll admit I didn't fully read between the lines before I went and got her. After researching, pondering and making sure I wanted to adopt a hedgehog and could provide the correct care for him or her, I started to look at breeders, only to find out there are really none near me (couple in Buffao / Rochester area but it was too far to travel). So I happen to just check Craiglists out, and there was Vera Lee "Wilma" up for sale. Chewed again on making sure I was ready to commit to such a pet, and then on April 10th jumped into my gas guzzling Chevy 1500 and drove the three hours to fetch her.
Her previous family wasn't doing too bad of a job, they kept her socialized and such but here is a quick list of what was wrong.
- Living in an old ferret cage in a giant log cabin style house, I'm guessing also for ferrets. She had maybe 6 inches on either side of the house and in front to move about.
- CEDAR bedding, her feet thank god are fine because they had aspen inside of her filthy log cabin house, she slept on one side, used the other side as a bathroom.
- Her only toy is a three inch peice of cardboard tubing, she does enjoy going in and out of it or nudging it around.
- Water Bottle at too high of an angle.
- Her back toe nails look like freddy krueger claws, not going into the foot but way way way way too long.
- Filthy log cabin house (well clean except for mite hideout) with zero nesting material except the aspen bedding.
So her life has improved vastly with me. She's now in a Ferret Nation 142 Unit on a fleece liner. More toys though she's the type not to overly care about them, water bowl instead of a bottle, low profile food dish and at the moment a infrared heating lamp that will be changed here within the next couple of weeks for a thermostated CHE lamp, along side a regular light to regulate her lighting hours.
I know someone is going to point out that her house in the picture above is still wood, and she does indeed have mites from her previous home. She's seen my regular vet who I don't trust with her, and she'll be seeing a better vet who has the right education for hedgehogs for a general health check and mite treatment.
From everything I have read on here, she is a very out going hedgehog, an explorer and despite all the changes in her life, has yet to even ball up (nor is she too fat to do so). The only thing she does is puff at me when I pick her up, and that lasts for a second. After that she is just "hey, whats up, let me explore you, your arm hair is tastes good". She wasn't litter trained but the fact that she grew up on wood bedding and now has gone to a fabric liner, I keep a box in one corner filled with aspen bedding and so far, she's been doing her business in it, for the most part. So far her favorite game is using a box in her playpen which is cut to about her height, but has this semi-circle at one end (was there already), she gets under the box and nuzzles it upwards, then pokes her head out the hole at the other end and gets her head out of it, then barrels around her pen like a tank, very cute.
Despite her previous living conditions, she's in excellent house. I've had at least one scare with a little pink hue to her urine, but I think it might just have been the stress of a new home, new people and a new cage. I've watched like a hawk and have not see another case of it. She also seems a touch dirty, meaning I've seen her at least three times be eating out of her dish, and she'll just go and not think twice about it. I'll be making sure at this new vet that they'll check for a UTI. As said I did research but not enough, namely with HEAT, temps didn't get super cold in her room (my bedroom) but they were bouncing from 70 at night to 80 during the day. She's now regulated at an almost steady 78.
The only main problem I have right now is she sleeps most of the time and I'm not sure if this is habit from her old family or lack of light. I get her out into her playpen nightly but activity can range from say last Friday where she was out for almost 9 hours active to tonight where she was out for 30 minutes before going back to sleep. She has no wheel but I have a Carolina Storm on the way, so we'll see how she does with that, nor have I pushed her just so she could get use to her new enviroment, though she seems to care little about that.
She also has 9 feline brothers and sisters, yes 9 cats and no we're not the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons, this is a result of having your mother work for the local shelter. All of them at some point had been slated to be put down, namely from either FKS (Fading Kitten Syndrom) or Upper Respitory Syndrome. General idea was to bring the kitten home, stimulate them and cure the Upper Resp and then return to shelter. Well took 8 times to figure out that wasn't going to happen. The 9th is actually a 20 year old cat of perfect health that was dropped off the shelter, cause her owner had a baby (f-ing people).
Of course it was somewhat of a risk to bring a prey animal into a house that is literally packed with predators, but they are all indoor cats (they have a 10x10 outdoor pen to go enjoy the outdoors) which cuts down on their killer instinct. Basically we had 9 feline wussies who will run from a mouse. They learned quickly that quills don't feel great on the paws or nose and actually Vera-Lee will sniff and bite them if they get into her playpen. They just jump and run in horror, and of course I don't leave Vera Lee alone with them, always supervised in her playpen.
And that is the story of Vera-Lee, who is definitely one happy hog.