Animal Embassy provides a loving and caring home for a number of adopted and rescued small mammals. They all play an important role in our educational programming and are an integral part of our family. Because small mammals are widely accepted as cute & cuddly, families often choose these furry creatures as pets. It is always advisable to fully research the needs of your potential pet and make certain they are a good match for what your family is able to provide.
Our Animal Ambassadors are mostly former family pets that could not be cared for in their original homes, were abandoned, or simply proved to be more labor-intensive than expected.
Our chinchillas are well-loved by students and families who have the opportunity to interact with these fluffy creatures. Native (historically) to the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Argentina, chinchillas require a soft fur coat to keep them alive in this cold, harsh environment.
With over 50 hairs growing from each follicle, their fur is incredibly soft and highly sought after. It can take over 100 chinchilla pelts to make just one fur coat. The fur trade has led to the near extinction of the two remaining chinchilla species. Even though domestic chinchillas are bred for the fur trade, wild chinchillas are still illegally hunted. Despite their disappearance, Chinchillas have been protected since 1910. The majority of the 4000 remaining wild chinchillas exist in a Chilean reserve.
The coloration of wild chinchillas ranges from gray to brown, helping to camouflage them among the rocks and stones of their habitat. White chinchillas are a result of a color mutation (of which there are many) produced by breeding in the pet trade.
Our adorable African Pygmy Hedgehog (Atelerix algirus) came from a caring family for whom his care and maintenance became too much. They sought out an adoptive home and found their way to Animal Embassy.
African hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures (active at night). Their spines are not barbed, like those of porcupines, but are effective protection against most predators. When stressed, hedgehogs will tighten a girdle of muscles around their waist, which causes them to curl into a spiny ball. Despite this armor, hyenas, honey badgers, and eagle owls, are known to kill and eat them.
Hedgehogs have been known to climb trees, and even swim when necessary. Highly energetic, these little guys can travel over four miles an hour and will at times cover miles of ground in a single night. Their diverse diet includes: insects, grubs, snails, spiders, some plant matter, and small vertebrates. They have a high tolerance for toxins and are known to consume scorpions and even venomous snakes.
Knuffle Bunny, or Knuffles as we like to call her, was the first in a line of rabbit adoptions and rescues we have made during the last 5 years. She was found abandoned at a local nature center. It was clear that she recently had a litter, and was ailing. We took her to the vet for some much-needed treatment & medication. After she was healthy and fully-recovered, Knuffles joined us in our community programming, helping us with our efforts to educate children and families about making appropriate pet choices. Her name was inspired by the children's books, written by Mo Willems, about Trixie and her constant and beloved companion, Knuffle Bunny.
Clover, the Flemish Giant Rabbit, is also an amazing, sweet ambassador. The Flemish Giant rabbit is a breed of domestic rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus. Flemish Giants are known for their large size, and Clover is no exception! The Flemish Giant rabbit originated in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium) and was bred as early as the 16th century near the city of Ghent, Belgium. These rabbits are thought to have descended from a number of meat and fur breeds, however, our Flemish Giant serves as an Animal Ambassador and as an important part of our educational programming.
Simba, our Lionhead Rabbit, traveled throughout Connecticut and New York last summer as part of our “Zoology for Kids” program. Simba is named after the character in The Lion King. Lionhead rabbits have a wool mane encircling their head, reminiscent of a male lion. As you might have noticed, our animals' names have a significant connection to the geographic region to which they are native or to their natural habitat. This assists us with conveying information about them to students and families.
The need for homes for bunnies is a growing problem. Although rabbits are popular pets, they require much attention and care and without this, they can become stressed, nervous, and even afraid of their owner. In some cases, we have adopted rabbits under these circumstances and in turn, devote a great deal of time and specialized care to these animals. We are just one of many rescue organizations that have been established due to this growing need.
The ferret (Mustela putorius furo) is the domesticated form of the European polecat, a mammal belonging to the same genus as the weasel of the family Mustelidae. Ferrets are crepuscular - most active around the hours of dawn and dusk.
The Black-Footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) is an endangered species. They are dependent upon prairie dogs as a food source. With the dramatic loss of large prairie dog colonies, came the loss of almost all black-footed ferrets. Farmers and ranchers (with government assistance) eliminated many prairie dogs because their underground complexes are destructive to fields. In 1987, 18 animals were captured in the wild to begin a captive breeding program, which has since reintroduced ferrets into promising western habitats
The Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus) is not in the pig family, nor is it from Guinea! They originated in the Andes Mountains, and are likely descended from some closely related species.The guinea pig plays an important role in the folk culture of many indigenous South American groups, especially as a food source, but also in folk medicine and in community religious ceremonies. Guinea pigs communicate with one another by making sounds, i.e. a variety of vocalizations that accompany certain activities
The Degu (Octodon degus) is native to central Chile and is the most common mammal found in this region. In their natural habitat, Degus live in burrows, and with digging communally, they construct larger and more elaborate burrows than would be possible as individuals.
They have become popular pets due in part to their diurnal (active during the day) habits and energetic personality. Although Diego (our Degu) is getting on in years, he is very active and enjoys running on his wheel!
The Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps) is arboreal (spending most of its life in trees) and a marsupial (a warm-blooded animal with a pouch, similar to the kangaroo and wallaby). The sugar glider is native to Australia, New Guinea and other islands in the region & has been introduced to Tasmania.
Its name refers to its taste for sugary foods and the ability to glide through the air. Sugar glider populations are fairly stable and often thrive in the strips and patches of forest left on cleared agricultural land, unlike some of their opossum cousins. Their gliding locomotion enables them to exploit hard to reach food sources other animals may have difficulty finding.
These Amazing Ambassadors help us to educate people of all ages about the importance of proper pet choices, as well as about the threats to their survival in the wild. Our furry friends are also extraordinary teachers for children with special needs, including vision impairment. They provide an added tactile dimension to our educational programming that helps us all to learn about the important role they play in their natural habitat. They are special Ambassadors for wildlife and the environment.