Saturday, March 23, 2013

Time For a Photo Shoot!

Got a cute little heart blanket for Chotu to snuggle in. 
Time for a photoshoot!

First he went exploring...

Then he got a little grumpy...

And a little sleepy...

And finally I got the signal that it was time to put the camera away.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Falling In Love...

The next night, we heard scratching and scraping coming from the stump. We walked over and waited for our baby to come out and let us know he was ready to play. That didn't happen.
So we picked up the top of the cage, lifted his stump, and peeled back the clothes he was wrapped up in. By the time we got to him, Chotu was tiny ball of hissing quills. There's no other way to describe the sound coming out of him. He was letting out a low, pulsing, hissing sound and had pulled himself completely into a ball of nothing but extremely sharp quills. This was going to be more complicated than we thought. 
After carefully using a towel to lift him and then letting Chotu feel our fingers underneath him so he knew we were people, not predators, we were finally able to get him out of a ball and were able to see his adorable little face, reminding us of why we fell in love with him in the first place. He sat in my hand for a while, letting us take some great pictures. 

After some time, he decided it was time to explore and began crawling all over me. We watched as he discovered all the nooks and crannies of the couch and then put him on the ground. He sat for a while, then made a dash for the smallest, darkest corner he could find in the room.
That first day playing with our new baby, we learned 2 important things about hedgehogs: 
1. Hedgehogs are sneaky and fast.
Don't take your eyes off them, even for a second.
2. Hedgehogs poop as they run.
Keep tissues ready to pick up any presents they leave for you along their travels.

I was pretty sure there were many more lessons to learn.

Monday, February 25, 2013

We're Home!

After a long car ride, we arrived back to our apartment and showed our baby his new home. With his nose in the air, Chotu explored each section of his new habitat, finally stopping at the doorway of his stump, sniffing for a while, then waddling inside and settling in.
Being nocturnal, we expected him to stay asleep through the day and come out at night. However, that bumpy car ride home and the change in environment seemed to really throw the poor guy off.
Chotu crawled into his home and slept and slept and slept.
And we were patient.
There would be plenty of time for photoshoots later.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bringing Home Baby!

The day had finally arrived. First things first: what to wear? After searching through my closet, I finally settled on a peachy lace dress and brown cardigan. (I wanted to make a good first impression on our hedgehog!)

We set off on the hour-long journey to pick up our baby. As usual, we were running late, but that didn't hamper our enthusiasm. Soon we would meet our new addition and bring him home.

With the help of our handy-dandy GPS, we made good time and found ourselves standing outside a cute green and yellow house with a metal fence. We snapped a quick picture (and by "we" I mean me) and rang the doorbell.

A tall man who looked to be in his 30's opened the door. We shook hands and he invited us in. He took us over to his living room and we introduced ourselves. It turned out that he is a special education teacher who breeds hedgehogs in the summer. He was actually a pretty cool guy, and we could tell he wanted to make sure his hedgehogs went to a good home. After a little bit, we were ready to meet our hedgie. He picked a box up off the table and reached inside. We heard a hissing sound and out came a small, wiggly ball of quills. Our baby!

He began telling us about the care and feeding of hedgehogs, but unfortunately I was so captivated by the small, squirmy creature in his hands, I missed most of what he said.

I worked up the courage to ask to hold him and immediately realized I had no idea what I was doing. The poor little guy was so scared by the strange fingers trying to grab hold of him, he kept hissing and pointing his quills straight up at me. I tried again, this time using the t-shirt I had brought to take him home in, but our hedgie was still so grumpy and squirmy. I started to get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. How on earth was I going to take care of this little guy when I couldn't even hold him without a t-shirt or gloves?

The man must have read my mind (or seen the scared look on my face) because he explained that baby hedgehogs need time to get used to new humans and will eventually feel more comfortable with my husband and I. Before I had the chance to feel relieved, he continued on and said, "When taking him out of his cage, however, you'll need to get used to getting poked by his quills. He doesn't know that you're not a predator until he feels your fingers under him." That didn't make me feel better, but taking another look at his little face did. I'd have to get used to him the way he'd have to get used to me. And in the meantime, I'd make my husband take him out of his cage.

We talked a little more, signed the papers, and the adoption was final. We were the proud parents of a new baby boy...hedgehog. We put him in the shoebox we had brought along and headed home, wondering what adventures were in store.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Home for a Hedgehog...

I was going to have a hedgehog of my very own!  (Okay, he would also be my husband's... but mostly mine!) I was over the moon.
The first thing we had to do was come up with a name. So many choices...what should we name him? The great search began. Mr. Pricklepants? Hedgie von Hedgeburg? Bob? My husband vetoed all the names I came up with. He wanted a name that would match the regal hedgehog we would be adopting. Plus, he wanted him to have a Pakistani name, since he would now be a Pakistani-American hedgehog like us. So he came up with Chotay Khan Saab, the Urdu equivalent of a stuffy British name like Sir Nigel Smythe-Pemberton III. I liked it. We would call him Chotu for short. (Something you call small children, which roughly translates to Little Cutie.) Done!
Our next step was to collect all the supplies needed to take care of a pet hedgehog. Not easy. Hedgehogs aren't exactly common pets, which makes finding supplies made specifically for hedgehogs nearly impossible. 
Quest #1: A home for our hedgehog. This was a long and complicated process, because a decision had to be made: would we make his home ourselves, as we had seen online on blogs and youtube videos, or would we follow the books we'd read that say a large cage is perfectly acceptable for a hedgehog? After some deliberation, we decided that, rather than have him live in a makeshift home we've created, requiring the use of measuring, drilling, and cutting up a plastic container, the best (and neatest) home for our hedgehog would be bought from a store.
Quest #2: Food for our hedgehog. Hedgehog food isn't available anywhere. Instead, you can feed them dry cat food; the best is to create a mixture of many different kinds to give them balanced nutrition. We found out that we could buy that through the breeder we were getting our hedgie from. They can also be given fruits and insects as treats. I'm willing to share my strawberries and grapes with our little guy, but it was going to take a while to get used to feeding him insects. I'd deal with that hurdle later...
Quest #3: Toys! This part was fun. We went to Petsmart and went crazy. We needed a food dish, water bottle, something to sleep in (I found a cute realistic looking tree stump), wheel to run on (this was the only thing I found that was actually for hedgehogs...and chinchillas and guinea pigs), tube to crawl through, pet bedding (the challenge was finding one that wouldn't make me sneeze), a few mini tennis balls to push around, and some stuffed toys for him to snuggle with (I settled on a mini teddy bear and small puppy with floppy ears). Needless to say, I had lots of fun and left with lots of bags.
When we got back to our apartment, my husband built the cage and I did the interior decorating.
We were ready. Our hedgehog had a home!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Let's Try Again...

A few days later, I got my reply. My little guy was already reserved, she just hadn't gotten around to posting that this hedgehog was also spoken for. She didn't anticipate having a new group of babies for a few months. In a few months, I would be back in school and unable to give a new baby hedgehog the attention that it needs.
I was beginning to lose hope, but then I remembered that I wasn't the type to give up that easily. I went back online and tried again. I kept reading that hedgehogs should only be bought through breeders, rather than pet stores. Hedgehogs are prone to being grumpy and anti-social, but breeders give them lots of handling and care, which helps baby hedgehogs become friendly. At pet stores they don't get much attention, which makes them uncomfortable around humans. I contacted all the breeders again through emails and voicemails. Then, I waited.
Sure enough, after a few days, I got an email response from one of them. He had babies available! I went to his website, which was chock full of adorable hedgehogs. These ones were a little older than the others I had seen, but still so cute! This time, when I emailed him about the one I chose, he emailed me back right away. I gave him my deposit and went to the website and this is what I saw:

I'm pretty sure there aren't any other Fatimas out there buying hegehogs. This one was mine!