Two Mexican Hairy Porcupines #backinthetrees
First of all, I’ll answer the question that you’re all thinking. Yes, Mike and Boo were named after the two loveable “Monsters, Inc.” movie characters. These two juvenile Mexican hairy porcupines arrived separately in June of 2018. Mike came first, and Boo followed. During their time in the TRR clinic, these two developed a special bond, much like their respective characters in “Monsters, Inc.”
Mike arrived on June 18. He was found without his mother by locals. After a week of waiting for his mother to turn up, they called MINAE and he was brought to TRR. In the clinic, we discovered that Mike had an eye wound that had crusted over. The TRR vets cleaned him up and realized that there was a big abscess under the crust and he had actually lost his eye. Porcupines don’t have sexual dimorphism (meaning you can’t tell them apart physically) so it was decided that he was going to be named Mike after the one and only Mike Wazowski.
Boo arrived 12 days later on June 30. She was found on the road next to her dead mother by a truck driver. He took her to Guapiles, Costa Rica and dropped her at a bar. The owner of the bar called MINAE (wildlife police) and she was brought to TRR immediately. When she arrived, she was crying out of fear and had a big oil stain on her nose. The TRR vets weighed her only to discover she was extremely underweight – only 160 grams on arrival! During her first nights, she constantly cried inside her crate. Seeing that she was under a lot of stress, the TRR vets decided to open her crate and let her explore and find a spot where she felt safe and could fall asleep. Eventually, she chose a hat and decided to sleep there. During the following days, she was moved into her crate and then a kennel, always with the hat! She was so small and scared, it only made sense for us to follow the theme and name her after the cute and frightened, but brave girl from “Monsters, Inc.,” Boo.
Mike and Boo were both introduced to nipple feeding and adapted very quickly. The real trouble came when it was decided that they were ready to try solid food. Mike adapted quickly to eating solid food, but Boo was picky. Our vets tried every single thing they could to get her to eat something solid: every fruit, every vegetable, every type of leaf, every nut – but she wouldn’t have it. The first thing Boo ever nibbled on was a hibiscus flower. Finally, we discovered her interest in horse pellets. She loved them and couldn’t get enough! After we got her interested in solid food, we were able to introduce other types of food as well. We added in foods that would be similar to what she would be able to find in the wild.
As soon as they were ready to be outside full time, we moved them into a safe cage in the middle of the forest at the TRR Release Site in Sarapiquí, Costa Rica. Eventually, when one of our bigger enclosures became vacant, Mike and Boo moved there so they could exercise, get climbing practice, and learn how to forage. Food was distributed around the enclosure to encourage them to search for it. Being in such a big enclosure was an adjustment for them, and although Mike seemed to adapt well, Boo cried throughout the first day as new obstacles presented themselves. Soon, they both became acclimated to their new space and learned to move around quickly.
Staff at the Release Site chose to carry out a soft release program, which involves continuing care for the animals, particularly providing food, so they can gradually adapt to living on their own. When changed to the release enclosure, even bigger than the previous one, Mike and Boo instantly adapted, and we knew they were ready to be set free! After giving them enough time to recognize their enclosure as home, we opened the door.
They both left the same night. Boo came back to sleep in the enclosure for the first night, but Mike chose a nearby tree. From then on they only returned to eat the food we put out to make sure they were eating enough during this exploration phase. After their release, we could spot them on a semi-regular basis. When we would find them sleeping in a tree with the food they could eat, we felt confident about their ability to find these trees and survive on their own.
Mike was last seen 10 days after his release. We hope that we prepared him well enough for the wild and often think of him. Boo, however, as brave as she is, can be spotted every now and again snuggling up in a tree, a wonderful reminder at Toucan Rescue Ranch of how hard work and dedication can always end with a successful second chance.
This blog was written by marketing intern, Ally Chamberlin. Thank you to former intern, Melody Bomon for contributing to this article. Edited by Madelyn Rangel.