Home Safari – Brazilian Porcupine Rico – Cincinnati Zoo

Home Safari – Brazilian Porcupine Rico – Cincinnati Zoo


hi everybody I’m Melanie I’m one of the
zookeepers here at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden we also have Erin
here hi guys and you are joining us for our
home Safari and yesterday was a big head we have the Fiona
but today the competition for Fiona is Rico the porcupine he’s pretty darn cute
so check him out he is a prehensile tail porcupine Aaron is one of his primary
trainers and she is going to be giving him some rewards because we do positive
reinforcement training with all of our animals so that means that we asked Rico
to come out of his habitat and do a couple of fun activities and behaviors
and when he participates in that then he gets a reward so today it looks like
he’s eating some dried apricot they’re even hearing some smacking I also
brought some dried banana chips which he likes because they’re very crunchy
porcupine love a very crunchy treat isn’t that right Melanie yes so he is
eating some fruit so dried fruit today he Bluffs basically all types of crews
some of his favorite things here at Mizzou our corn cob and blueberries they
also like to eat any type of salad greens
the mustard greens all kinds of healthy things hopefully you guys at home are
eating healthy as well so we can all stay healthy and be active just like
Rico in the wild though prehensile-tailed porcupines they are
from South America so there’s a lot of them in Brazil so
another common name for them other than prehensile-tailed porcupines is the
Brazilian porcupine and so being in the Neotropics and southern South Africa
they live up into the trees so you can probably guess what they might eat the
leaves of the trees and they’re even known to sometimes eat on the bark and
even on the inner parts of the trees called the Cambrian layer and in
addition to that they’ll eat nuts and twigs all kinds of things so it’s really
important for them to eat the seeds because then they help with seed
dispersal so this is something no one should try at home with a porcupine Rico
and I have been working together since you first came to the Cincinnati Zoo and
Botanical Garden and so we have a lot of trust built up between the two of us
and because the zoo is closed to visitors right now we decided that we
wanted have a chance to get out and stretch his
legs and play around a little bit so we’ve set up a little bit of an obstacle
course Rico is going to be allowed to just sort
of run around wherever he likes a lot of the items that we put down the things
he’s actually never seen before so I have no idea what he’s going to do with
them what do you think I want to come try this ramp he knows pretty well but
he’s gonna take a quick spin around on his table to make sure he did not leave
any treats behind if some of his favorite activities really just include
anything with climbing so we created basically a porcupine playground and
this is one of the spaces that we do use here at the zoo for a lot of that
education program animals that Aaron and I work with so that we can take them on
quiet days like this to exercise and get any sort of stimulation a lot of times
there’s some smells from other animals in the purpose and just being outside of
their normal space we also challenge them to you might get to see a couple of
that we have throughout the playground packed up at the top of this ramp there
is a ball with more banana chips in there so there’s a little bit of a
puzzle here not sure about that one there’s a puddle feeder for him and that
also more his brain so for those of you guys still may be doing some school
activities at home we gotta keep your brain nice and sharp sharp as a quill
that is so perfect mics do have quills all over their body they do not shoot
them out like most cartoons may imply but actually Melanie let’s do a home
activity right okay I went everyone was listening to close their eyes
concentrate very hard and on the count of three shoot the hair out of her head
into the person next to you now if anyone say that they can feel free to
write in and tell us but I do not think they will be telling the truth the fact
is that Rico’s quills which he is showing up so nicely right now are made
of the same stuff that our hair is and just like our hair it is very firmly
anchored into their skin and so it does not shoot just because they feel like it
Oh Rico’s getting up on another table now and he’s gonna continue exploring
his his classroom playground now as you guys see him getting a little fluffier
and there’s quills kind of standing up on ends that is a good example of what
happens when porcupines get a little bit excited if something startles them or
something’s happening that there excitement about they tend to make those
quills stand up and then as they calm down they get a little bit sleeker and
closer to their body one of the things I like the best about Rico is that I feel
like he’s a lot like a lot of the little boys and girls I know and that as soon
as he sees a way to climb up something he likes to choose the most difficult
way possible so climbing up the underside of his ramp or trying to climb
up all the walls things like that but like Melanie says he’s an amazing
climber and he really loves to do it it’s his definite favorite way to play
you may see him climb he will use tail that tail is a prehensile tail meaning
that he uses it just like an extra arm or leg you can even hang from it like a
monkey or a possum and half of his tails weight is actually in muscle it’s a very
very strong tail and you know I’m the very underneath side it’s kind of
calloused and that it doesn’t have any quills and it has a big callus kind of
like the bottom of your feet and then it helps him to grip onto britches and use
it to hold all of his body weight which Rico by the way weighs about 15 pounds
and he is a full-grown little boy he’s four years old you can hear him smack
listen to that crunch one more time so if anybody has questions about Rico
you can always chime in on those but we there’s a lot of vocalizations that you
might be hearing from Rico I’m trying to be quiet in some moments just so you
might be able to hear it I’m he’s gonna get some romaine anybody eating salad at
home he does his without ranch dressing but he makes all kinds of little moans
or grunts or hisses or hops and hissing doesn’t always mean that he’s upset
unlike other animals where hissing might be a threatening sound or a threatening
call and those whiskers are so long he uses those to feel his way around and
what else you might notice something very big on the front end of his face is
his nose he has a really good sense of smell and he’s also very curious
individual very interested in the phone Melanie a lot of people are asking about
this yellow color that they see is that his skin is a skin Yellow is that just
the base of his quills that are that color I love that you guys ask that
question the yellowing that you see is actually from a waxy substance that
comes from glands and his skin called sebaceous glands we help them as well it
provides the oils in our hair but his is more waxy and it’s also that yellow
color so it helps to keep his quills nice and moisturized and shiny in his
skin as well of course that’s a great question
Rico like some of our cats and dogs at home it’s really great at getting into
new spaces but not always the best at getting out of them we’re going to try
to give him the opportunity as it comes to now his ramp for him what do you
think bud do you think you can do this you’d be rooting for me so being an education animal or an
ambassador animal as we call the animals that go on our education programs here
like Rico we do work very closely with them very often so that we have a strong
bond and Trust with them so that people can meet these animals up close and in
the comfort of our animals so we want to make sure that they’re very comfortable
and that they’re even not only just comfortable but enjoying the time
spending with people to inspire them with wildlife with these up close
encounters so Rico’s having a good time getting some exercise and treats and
smelling different things this is very novel for him being outside of his
habitat and even within his habitat it’s also our job as the zoo keepers to
provide enrichment in his habitat so he will bring thanks
to him as well as the time stinky bring him out to other things we have another
big question from John and Kelsey they want to know if he has to be natural
predators predators so they’re actually not so natural of predators at least in
my opinion even a lot of people in Brazil have been known to eat porcupines
so a predator of porcupines are humans and then also the humans best friend
some dogs will pre date on porcupines but there are occasional predators up in
trees that will get these guys because they do spend about 85% of their time up
in the trees talking about predators the tricky part about porcupines as everyone
at home can probably see is that they are covered in those quills and so a
predator has to be smart enough to get to the soft underbelly of the porcupine
to be able to make a meal out of it crosley asked how is Rico able to climb
so well yeah so we talked a little bit about the prehensile tail that works
like an extra limb and can grasp onto things as you can see he’s doing right
now he’s wrapping that tail around for some extra support but in addition to
that I don’t know if you can shows his rear feet but they’re kind of
angled out and that helps them to grab when two branches a little bit easier
than a foot that might be angled so he grabs onto the branches with him he’s
actually doing it right now just for a second he’s getting into the groove of
this party here and I will also say we’ve been working with Rico since he
first came to the Cincinnati Zoo and when he first came to us he was about
four months old and he came from another zoo in Ohio and he actually was a
terrible climber and so it took a lot of practice for him to be as good at
climbing as he is today especially learning how to use that tail took a
very long time for him he was really good with his hands and feet at first
but that tail definitely took a while to learn some of our followers obviously
know some things about porcupines because they’re asking what they smell
like I wish you guys could smell them I’m not sure you would want the smell in
your home but he smells almost like really raw or rank onions and we have
had female prehensile-tailed porcupines at our zoo and they did not smell as
oniony as our male Rico here and also I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there’s
a little bit of dispersal of some poop now if you guys were planting a garden a
lot of times you want to make sure you throw seeds around everywhere which is
basically what Rico is doing by pooping everywhere they are known for eating
tree seeds and then they move out in the forest and they based
plant those seeds by pooping all over the place so that is a really important
job that porcupines have while living in the forests of the Neotropics is by
planting and dispersing the tree seeds this is a great way for you guys to see
how long and strong his back feet are as well as that tail he can hang on to this
pole which is fairly smooth while he uses his front feet to eat and just like
a lot of people out there Rico is right-handed so he almost always takes a
treat first with his right manner and then if his left hand is needed for
something that’s real big that he’ll use that as well his Rico nocturnal yes in
general yeah prehensile-tailed porcupines are nocturnal but since Rico
lives here with us at the Cincinnati Zoo Botanical Garden he is sort of used to
being on a people schedule and so he wakes up what we get into work which is
around 8 o’clock in the morning and once we leave for the day and we feed him his
dinner around 5 o’clock p.m. at night and so he is sort of switched onto our
schedule it certainly does not hurt him to be awake during the day part of the
reason why the wild porcupines are nocturnal because they mostly rely on
that sense of smell to get around his eyesight is actually not very good at
all and he is mostly using that nice big nose to find his way around the world I
will say – I love to know the Latin meaning of names of animals the word
porcupine actually means spiny pig and you can see why he would
be called spiny pig take a look at that nose it’s very pink light however they are not
close relatives of pigs they are actually related to rodents here in the
same order as rodents and they have teeth that continuously grow just like
rodents so he does not have any sort of enamel on his teeth the protective
coating that we have on our teeth to keep them nice and white so that’s why
they turn orange he eats a lot of orange colored foods he loves carrots and sweet
potato and even look apricot so his teeth are orange but that’s okay
because his teeth will always be growing do you guys brush your teeth at home to
make sure that your teeth don’t turn there are a lot of kids watching and a
lot of kids want to know if we go ever has to get a bath that is a great
question and so Rico does not get baths he actually prefers to stink
since our job as zoo keepers is to make sure that our animals are happy healthy
and safe we do not mind that Rico stinks so long as he is happy and healthy about
it and he is in the wild these guys do live in the rainforest and so they might
get wet every day a little bit he’s trying to take the camera over he knows
all of his best angles after all and so we might get wet during the day we
rainforest showers that happen but in general Rico does not love getting wet
he much prefers to just kind of be stinky and dirty which is fine so I want
you guys since you’re getting a lot of good angles of Rico I want to you guys
too at all of the features of his cute
little body and face and I’m going to challenge you guys to an activity at
home I would love for you guys to make some sort of art that is inspired by
Rico whether that be that you get an apple and stick it with some spiny
toothpick quills or any other site sort of art work that is Rico inspired we
want to see your porcupine art and you guys can follow the instructions on the
post there or on our website on how to submit the artwork and we are going to
show Rico your lovely porcupine themed artwork later on and possibly
even post it on the Cincinnati Zoo’s page so there’s an activity for you kids to do
later or even big kids big kids can do it too for sure I know I will yes Rico
is one of our favorites okay so that looks like it’s gonna be about the end
of Rico’s time we actually have to go and exercise other animals believe it or
not with everything being shut down we are still here giving the best care
for our animals so we have to go and take care of other animals

51 Comments on “Home Safari – Brazilian Porcupine Rico – Cincinnati Zoo”

  1. How long do porcupines live for? Mr. Rico is adorable . My son and I watched the whole video and just couldn’t take our eyes off this little cutie …. ❤️

  2. when you finaly get where j.k. rolling get her idea for the niffler. Doesn't he look like a spikey niffler. Or more does a niffler don't look like a smooth porkepine

  3. Thank you so much for doing these videos!! Animals are wonderful to watch anytime but during this crazy time in the world right now it makes it even more special. What a cute little Rico and I so love his pink nose.

  4. Thank you so much for making this video. Being a zoologist is my dream job, and this helps me get a lot of animal facts! I’m watching the new ones every day, and am loving it! He’s so cute and I hope he has a great day. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

  5. thank you cincinatti zoo, this is great! love Iona rico and your ocelot. what a wonderful response to our confinement! heart heart heart

  6. Does Rico like to be on camera? His hands look like baby hands. Are they super strong?how strong is his tail?

  7. "I hope you guys are all eating healthy at home"

    You don't have to put me on blast like that… I'm watching youtube. You know what's on my desk right now. And it's not a nice bowl of fresh fruit.

  8. I wish that all closed zoos, both in the North America and Europe, would make videos like yours. 👍
    One question/comment: I heard on BBC that such big rodents and porcupines have orange teeth because of their iron content.

  9. Did she just say that the New World Prehensile Tailed Porcupine, is also known as the Brazilian Porcupine and can be found in Southern South Africa? Is this the American Education System at work and she can NOT tell the difference between South America and South Africa? Sigh. One is country, the other is a continent.

  10. All the food these animals are snacking on while I have nothing to snack on because we haven’t been able to go to the stores with all this craziness and kiddos.

  11. How many things does he eat I have soooooooo many questions!?🦔🦔🦔🦔🦔🦔🦔🦔oh why does he have eyes that stick out so far

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