Mason Keys and His Abundance of Exotic Animals


For most people, having one or two pets is more than enough, but not for Mason Keys. With a total of three hedgehogs and five chinchillas, he is perfectly content with his small zoo of exotic animals.

It all started when he had some extra spending money. He was browsing online sellers and came across a hedgehog. Keys explained how and why he decided to purchase the hedgehog.

“I had extra money and I saw this ad [on Craigslist] and was like why not?” he said.

After buying the first hedgehog to which he named Oatmeal, Keys thought that he would be lonely while he wasn’t at home to spend time with him. Keys said, “I thought he needed a friend.”

It wasn’t until about a month later that he discovered that the second hedgehog he bought, Quilla, was a girl. He had housed them in the same enclosure because the original owner said she was a boy.

The reason he discovered she was not a boy is when Oatmeal and Quilla mated, bringing a third hedgehog which he named Elise.

“I thought he needed a friend but then they were super friends,” Keys jokingly said about the shocking surprise about the gender of Quilla.

Keys also has five chinchillas, named Nimbus, Graphite, Penelope, Carousel and Pumpkin Seed.

When he bought the chinchillas, he was just walking around a pet store to buy cat food for his hedgehogs when he saw a group of them. With the same “why not” mentality he had for the hedgehog transaction, he purchased a chinchilla.

A week later his sister was inspired and got one for her birthday. She ended up giving it to Keys a few days later. For the rest of the chinchillas, he searched Craigslist looking out for chinchillas who needed new homes and ended up rescuing three more.

Owning so many pets comes with some major responsibility and Keys knows first hand the demand it takes. “First thing I do when I wake up is taking care of them,” he said.

“[The hedgehogs] are dirty and so basically every two days I just have to wipe out their cages,” Keys explained. He uses shredded paper as their bedding for the bottom of their cages and replaces it every two or three days depending on how dirty it gets.

Along with changing their bedding, he gives them food and water as needed. The hedgehogs have a simple diet that consists of dry cat food.

The chinchillas are a bit more high maintenance because “They eat a lot and drink a lot more water,” he said. For the most part, he has to make sure they are supplied with enough water and food which includes hay and oxbow pellets which are nuggets of different types of grasses and nutrients.

An additional step for the chinchilla’s care is giving them a dust bath two or three times a week. Chinchillas need a dust bath rather than a soap and water bath because of how thick their coats are. If chinchillas get their fur wet it won’t dry and could cause them to start molding.

Keys put the proper chinchilla bathing dust into a fishbowl and they climb in, roll around for a few minutes and come out clean and even more fluffy.

The housing situation for the pets is large to account for the number of animals. For the hedgehogs, there are two cages. One cage for Oatmeal and the second for the mother-daughter pair, Quilla and Elise.















For the mass of chinchillas, it’s quite the setup. It includes three wire cages. The largest cage is for two boys, Pumpkin Seed and Graphite. The second cage is for two girls, Penelope and Carousel. While the last cage is for the last boy Nimbus.

They are in separate cages because they all don’t get along and need to be separated for their safety.

Both species of animals are nocturnal meaning they sleep during the day and are awake at night. Both animals sleep most of the day but when they are awake they are running around and exhausting their built up energy.

The hedgehogs sleep about 16 hours and only wake up to eat, run around a bit and use the restroom. The chinchillas sleep about 13 hours so they are awake a little longer and while they are awake they jump throughout their cages and eat.

With the great responsibility, the animals require Mason Keys is more than happy to tend to their every need and care for them.