Animal Rentals Blog


  1. TERRIFYING TARANTULAS

    September 12, 2012 by Mindy the Monkey

    When dad and I do our animal shows, animal displays, events and parties, people have lots of different reactions to my exotic animal friends.  Last week I told you that everyone loves Olivia the Opossum because she is so sweet and gentle.  This week I’m going to tell you about one of the scariest members of our traveling family, Cuddles the Tarantula.

    Cuddles is a Chilean Rose-Haired Tarantula.  She is about as big as a human hand – about 5 inches – which makes her very intimidating.  She always causes quite a commotion wherever we go.  Lots of people scream and jump when they see her, and very few people are brave enough to touch her or hold her. The really funny thing is that Cuddles is actually very calm and gentle.  She enjoys walking on people’s hands and arms, and will sometimes just sit quietly on your palm or shoulder.

    The thing about Cuddles that people are most afraid of is being bitten by a tarantula, because they’ve heard that it can kill you. While it’s true that tarantulas are venomous, a bite from one is kind of like a mosquito bite or a bee sting – more annoying than deadly. A black widow or brown recluse spider is much more dangerous than a tarantula. Besides that, tarantulas rarely bite.  Their first defense is to scrape little barbed hairs from their belly that irritate your skin and can cause a rash and itching.  Of course, any animal can bite, so you always have to be respectful of them.  But, at least as far as tarantulas are concerned, you really don’t have to be scared of them.

    When people finally get the courage to touch or hold Cuddles, they are usually surprised at how fun and friendly she is.  Also at how it almost tickles as she walks across their skin.  And how she seems more like a family pet than a scary insect.  So if you ever get the chance to meet Cuddles or another tarantula, be brave and hold her.  You’ll be glad you did and your friends will be amazed!


  2. PLAYING ‘POSSUM

    September 6, 2012 by Mindy the Monkey

    One of the things that people love the most about our animal shows and animal displays is that they get to touch, pet and hold exotic animals.  Everyone has a different favorite for different reasons.  But one thing that everyone who meets her can agree upon is that my friend Olivia, the Virginia Opossum, is the sweetest and gentlest of all my animal friends.

    Olivia was hand-raised from the time she was just a tiny baby by my friend Mark, one of the trainers who works and travels with me and dad.  Baby opossums are born in their mother’s pouch, and spend a couple of months nestled all snug and safe inside. When they come out, they travel around by clinging to their mama’s back.  It’s really cool to see all the babies riding on a mama opossum!  So baby opossums are naturally clingy and cuddly.  Wild opossums eventually grow out of that stage, but because Mark spent hundreds of hours raising and training her, Olivia is still very sweet and cuddly, even as an adult.  She loves to be held just like a baby.

    When wild opossums are threatened they play dead in order to discourage their predators.  Olivia can be very still and quiet and not move for hours at a time. That is amazing to me because I don’t like to sit still for even five minutes! Another thing about her that’s really neat is that she has a prehensile tail, just like I do.  She uses her tail kind of like an extra ‘hand’ to help her climb and balance and hold onto things.  Even though we use our tails in similar ways, we are not related. Opossums are marsupials, so Olivia is more like a cousin to a kangaroo than a monkey.  She even has a pouch, too.

    Olivia loves traveling with me and dad to all our different events and college lectures.  Because she is so calm and relaxed, she enjoys riding in the car all across the country.  And her favorite thing is meeting and being held by lots of new people – curling up in their arms and laying her head on their chests while they stroke her soft fur.  Everyone loves Olivia the Opossum, and I do too!


  3. SKUNKS ARE SWEET, SMART AND SMELLY

    August 30, 2012 by Mindy the Monkey

    One of the best things about being an Animal Ambassador is helping people understand what exotic animals are really like.  A lot of animals are misunderstood because something about them keeps people too far away from them to really get to know them.  Because of their unique and stinky defense mechanism, skunks are definitely one of those animals.

    One of my friends that lives with us is Sylvester the Skunk.  Sylvester is a really nice guy, and I like him a lot, but he always smells like he needs to take a bath.  And he doesn’t even smell as bad as most skunks!  In the wild, skunks spray a really stinky odor to defend themselves against predators – including people.  Sylvester was born on a farm so he doesn’t have the smelly spray, but he still has a gamey odor that is a little unpleasant for most people and monkeys.  It’s too bad that his smell is what keeps people from getting to know how intelligent, interesting and entertaining he is.

    Even though he has lived with us all of his life, Sylvester likes to pretend that he is a wild animal.  Sometimes he acts all tough and he stomps his feet and grunts at us.  We all know not to be afraid because he is our friend, but when wild skunks do that we know it is time to run away or get sprayed!  When dad or anyone else picks Sylvester up, he is very sweet and gentle.  He even likes to be petted.  His job is to show people that you don’t have to be afraid of wild animals, but to respect them and not get too close to them when they are in their outdoor homes.  Sylvester loves meeting new people at animal shows and college lectures, and teaching them about what skunks are really like beyond the smell.

    Have you ever seen a skunk in the wild?  Have you smelled one?


  4. FEEDING EXOTIC ANIMALS

    August 18, 2012 by Mindy the Monkey

    Last week I promised to tell you a little more about what it is like to live with and take care of exotic animals.  In many ways it is not that much different than taking care of domestic pets like cats and dogs.  Feeding, watering, cleaning, grooming and training are all a part of dad’s and my everyday life.  Today I’m going to tell you about what we do every morning at our house.

    The biggest part of our day is spent washing dozens of dishes and preparing food for all of my animal friends that live with us.  I help dad wash and cut up and mix all the different fresh fruits and vegetables, and then I get to inspect and taste everything to make sure it is perfect.  It takes five or six hours every day to feed everyone and clean up their living spaces.  Fortunately, we have wonderful people that work with us and help us, or we would never get finished!

    Most of us eat a combination of fresh food and nutritionally balanced commercial food every day.  Dad is very good about feeding everyone exactly what they need to stay happy and healthy.  We get a good blend of fruits, vegetables, meat, vitamins and minerals, nuts and seeds according to what we like and need.  I like pretty much everything, but some of my friends are very fussy about what they eat.  Some of them, like the snakes and alligator, will only eat live food.  Amy the Armadillo loves crickets, and it is lots of fun watching her run around hunting them!  I also share my monkey chow with many of my friends because they really like it.  The rats have their own rat chow, and the birds have their own pellets, but the opossum, porcupine, skunk and others love the monkey chow.  It is pretty delicious!

    Some of my friends – the geoffroy cat, opossum, porcupine and skunk – also eat high protein cat food.  For fresh food, we eat just like you do, with whatever fruits and vegetables are in season.  Lettuce, green beans, corn, squash, peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, apples, peaches, pears and everything else in the produce section are things that we like.  The birds and I also like nuts a lot, and we each have our favorite types.  My uncle, Mr. Adam Monk, loves chicken and hamburgers so dad cooks special things for him and always brings him leftovers when we go out to eat.

    As you can see, our mornings are very busy with fixing so many different types of breakfast for all of my friends.  After everyone has eaten, there is still a lot more to do for the rest of the day.  Next time I’ll tell you more about what we do in the afternoons, and how we get ready for our different kinds of animal shows, parties and events – so be sure to come back to my blog next week!


  5. IT’S A GOOD LIFE

    August 7, 2012 by Mindy the Monkey

    I’ve been lucky enough to meet thousands of people in my job as an Animal Ambassador.  Since I always meet them while I am working at one of our animal shows, parties or events, one of the questions people always ask is what my life at home is like.  So today I thought I’d tell you a little bit about my daily life with dad.

    Just like you, I have free roam of the house. Some of my animal friends have to be separated from each other for safety’s sake, but dad and the dogs and I all get along great and live together in the house.  I love playing with the dogs – they are so much fun!  My favorite thing is to throw the ball for them and have them bring it back to me.  My best friend is Dottie, an Australian Shepherd. We love to curl up together on the couch or a chair after we are all tired out from playing ball.

    Some of the other fun games I like to play are pushing stuff off the table, and switching the lamps on and off.  I also love to sit in the window and feel the warmth of the sun on my fur while I watch all the cars and trucks and people go by.  But even though I love to play and relax, there is always a lot of work to do every day, too.  I sleep with dad, so it is easy to wake him up every morning at sunrise so that we can get an early start on our day and have plenty of time for both work and play.

    Dad and I eat breakfast together, then I get my shower in the sink.  After that we spend several hours feeding, watering and taking care of all of my other animal friends.  They are always so happy to see us in the morning and I am sure it is because they missed me overnight and not because I have a big bowl of food in my hands!  The birds all yell hello and the alligator smiles and even though it is hard work, it is a lot of fun to help dad take care of everybody.

    After everyone is taken care of, dad and I sit down to work in the office together for a while – making calls, setting appointments and planning out the rest of our day.  It is a busy life, but a very good life.  I really enjoy living and working with dad.  Next time I’ll tell you more about taking care of the animals and what we do to get ready for our animal shows, parties, and events – so be sure to check out my blog next week too!


  6. YES, YOU CAN PET A PORCUPINE

    July 23, 2012 by Mindy the Monkey

    My friend Pokey is a North American Porcupine with her own built-in defense system.  She has very sharp quills all over most of her body that protect her from predators and attackers.  The quills are really spiny hairs with barbs on the end, like a fish hook.  If you have ever gotten stuck by a fish hook or a quill you know that those barbed tips make it very difficult to get out of your skin!

    If Pokey feels threatened, she makes all her quills stand up on end, which makes her look huge and bushy and scary.  That is enough to make most people and animals run away and leave her alone.  No one wants to get stuck by those quills!  If something tries to attack her anyway, they will be very sorry because it is very painful to get a hand or face full of porcupine quills.

    Obviously it is not a good idea to try to pet a wild porcupine.  But my dad and his friend Mark taught me a secret way to pet Pokey without getting stuck by the quills.  They teach lots of other people how to do it too, at the animal shows we do at parties, fairs and festivals.  So lots of different people have had the wonderful experience of petting Pokey and feeling her wiry hair and spiny quills.  Pokey likes to be petted, but you have to be very calm and gentle when you do it so that you don’t startle her.  She is a  very sweet porcupine but she scares easily.

    Have you ever gotten to pet a porcupine?  Would you like to?


  7. STORIES OF AN ANIMAL AMBASSADOR

    June 7, 2012 by Mindy the Monkey

    Hi everyone, I’m Mindy!  I am a Capuchin monkey and I have a very special job as an animal ambassador.  Here on my blog I will be telling you stories about what it is like to live, work and play with all kinds of different animals.

    I’m so lucky that I get to travel all over the United States with my dad, Bill Hoffman of Animal Rentals, entertaining people and teaching them about wild, domestic and exotic animals.  I have a lot of animal friends that travel with me and help me with our animal shows, and we always have a great time meeting new people and seeing how happy and excited they are to meet us.

    Even though I am only six years old, I have already worked at many different events and met hundreds of wonderful people.  I’ve been on television, worked at parties, fairs and festivals, performed on stage and at college shows, gotten all dressed up for corporate events and trade shows, and even danced as an organ grinder monkey.  My dad is really funny and he makes people laugh a lot while he is teaching them about us and what it is like to live and work with exotic animals.  I think my favorite part of being an animal ambassador is seeing the joy on people’s faces when they get to touch a monkey or a chinchilla or a snake for the very first time.  It sure is a great job, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it!

    I’m so glad that you found my blog and I hope you come back often to read about all the great adventures that my dad, my friends and I have working and playing together.   And be sure to like my Facebook page, so that I can get to know you too!


Animal Rentals, Inc., licensed by the USDA, is fully insured and has been in business for over 40 years.