My name is Crystal and I am so happy to meet you! I would love to get to know you a little better and tell you about who I am! I feel it's super important for pet owners to know the breeder who they're supporting and to understand what that breeder is all about. Here I'm going to tell you a little bit about myself and my history working with animals.
Plants and animals possess an energy within them that almost seems to center us, even if that plant or creature is in an industrial apartment or crowded city. Being brought back to nature is such a wonderful gift.
I choose to surround myself with nature. I welcome nature into my home. I always have. A few weeks ago my mother said to my husband "oh she's always had plenty of plants and pets". This was in reference to my obsession with indoor and outdoor gardening and my pets. My husband was wondering when my passion had started.
When I was a child I grew up in the woods. Frogs and turtles were my friends. From the moment I got home from school until bedtime I would play in the woods.
We live in such a different time now unfortunately, where many of our youth do not get the opportunity to play safely outdoors. This certainly breaks my heart.
I would dig up plants and try to grow them in cups in my room . They'd always die due to lack of light and acclimation process in my basement bedroom.
I'd catch turtles from the pond in our back yard and across the street. There were three ponds to choose from right in my neighborhood & all were quite large.
My father had built a pond in our backyard as well, out of an old pool. The turtles I'd caught took up residency in the pond right out my bedroom door. It was magnificent.
They swam,basked,bred and had off spring. Every summer I was able to witness eggs hatching and tiny turtles being born.
I later discovered that the species of turtle, the spotted turtle, was endangered. A wildlife officer visited us once to inspect the pond (I don't remember exactly why, this was 20yrs ago). I remember him seeing all the babies that had been hatching and he said " looks like your bringing back a species". He explained that my pond offered a safe place free of predators in which they could breed and young could mature. I was so proud of myself. He then said I couldn't catch and relocate the turtles anymore but the ones that were there could stay until they chose to leave, as they weren't contained in the pond by any barriers.
As a kid I had zero understanding of wildlife laws or conservation, but that interaction with wildlife officer struck a life long passion for me.
As a teen I went to a farming school. I joined FFA and 4H. My major was revolved around plants. I bred American fuzzy lop, Californian, and Netherland dwarf rabbits. That's when I started to enjoy breeding programs with a purpose.
My rabbits lived outdoors in a giant heated/cooled hutch system. They had safe covered pens that were led to the ground by ramps. They had a few hundred feet of space to frolic and enjoy life.
My father, despite our differences, really gave me the hook up when it came to my rabbits. I've never again met a man who donated half his yard to his daughter so her Bunny's could have more room to explore. These rabbits kept me out of any real trouble as a teen. I never had any interest in causing a ruckus around town when there were cute bun buns to tend to. My gardens and my animals were my priorities.
Shortly after I began a rodent breeding program involving rats. My father built a second shed that had electricity and temperature control. (Long before the days of firm regulations in our once right to farm community). The rats are what sparked my interest in genetics.
I also began growing orchids and juniper topiaries. This absolutely fascinated me.
My grandfather was into gardening and I split lived with him. We'd spend hours everyday tending to the plants In the gardens.
We had a green metal cart that carried our pots of determinate tomatoes plants. We'd move our little cart to various locations in the yard throughout the day to be sure our plants got the best lighting.
In my early 20's I took horticulture classes and animal control classes. I began rescuing animals and founded a licensed rescue for pit bull type dogs. I dove heavy into animal rescue after my daughter passed away. I was trying to save myself through saving others. I was diagnosed with reproductive cancer shortly after my daughter's passing, so rescue was my solace.
Eventually I opened a licensed rescue for exotic animals. I did this for almost 10 years. I worked 3 jobs to support the rescue and maintain the property I had purchased In Order to rescue the animals. Sadly, our property was lost to a flood and nothing was able to be recovered. The animals were all safe and all found homes but the property was a goner.
Now as a 30 something adult, things sure have changed. There's no more pond in the yard, no more bunnies outside in gigantic naturalistic enclosures. No more rat shed. No more animal rescue (for now).
I rent. I live in the city. The closest I get to wildlife is the possum that was in the garbage can (he was sooooo cute). It's a different life style now. It may be different but I am so grateful to be alive and still journeying through life. I look back often on the past and all of the experiences I've been so lucky to have had with nature. Every challenge and every success has helped form my life & has molded me into who I am today.
When you enter my home, you may not be shocked to see the jungle that it is. Houseplants are everywhere. These are the little bit of nature I bring in to cancel out the gray of the city right out my window.
I nurture them, cultivate them & pass their plant babes on to others who need to combat the gray.
I keep and breed hedgehogs. A wonderful species that brings so much life into my home. They complete the need for nature around me. It is an amazing experience to care for and create lasting bonds with such free little spirits. I've always had large tropical fish tanks, rabbits, rats and reptiles. But the hedgehogs are who truly resonate with my spirit. They mirror me in so many ways; their prickly tough exterior protecting a softness inside. In all honesty, I think they reflect us all. We are all imperfectly perfect and so deserving of love and acceptance, even when we can't see it ourselves.
I absolutely adore these little hedgehogs and do everything in my ability to offer them biology based care and extended enrichment. Fostering their wild and free side so that they can truly be hedgehogs.
I surround myself with nature. It centers me. It helps calm the chaos of such a silly hectic society. With plants and animals there are no deadlines, there are no cliques, and there is no hate. They're such innocent beings that can emit that feeling of pure when fostered and nurtured. a
Nurture a little nature, it may change your life for the better. It sure changed mine!
As a breeder I try to be in touch with the more human side of breeding hedgehogs. Working with HogParents and being open about who I am with them has helped form some wonderful relationships. There is no greater feeling than watching a hoglet grow and be welcomed by the arms of it's loving HogParent. Thank you for allowing me to be your breeder. I am forever grateful for you.
Feel free to check out my blog by clicking on it in the pages tab above. My blog shares my experiences in breeding hedgehogs, including the human side of things : )