History of the Chinchilla
Chinchillas are cute and cuddly pets and pet lovers are delighted to have them around. However, few chinchilla owners actually know the history and origins of their beloved pets. Getting to know their story can help owners take better care of their pets.
Chinchilla Facts – Origins
Chinchillas were originally from South America, particularly in the Andes Mountain range. They were named after the Chincha, a Native American tribe. In fact, the term chinchilla means “little Chincha”.
The Chinchillas lived in burrows and cracks located in the cold mountains. They are also very active and can jump up to 5 ft. high.
Spanish conquistadores discovered the chinchillas in the 1600s and brought them back to Spain for the fur trade. Chinchilla fur demanded a hefty price and many started hunting them as a means of living.
Unfortunately, the hunt led to the extinction of King Chinchilla, a species of chinchilla that’s twice as large as modern chinchillas.
To protect the mammal, people started breeding Chinchillas in 1895.
Unfortunately, a disease struck a year later and the breeding process was halted. Breeding was resumed around 1918 through the efforts of a man named M. F. Chapman. He was an explorer known for rediscovering the chinchilla.
With special permission from the Chilean government, Chapman captured 11 chinchillas. He was careful to help the mammals acclimate, even going as far as ordering large amounts of ice to help keep them cool. Upon his return to California, Chapman had 12 chinchillas, with one female giving birth during the voyage. Many breeders followed Chapman’s lead and eventually, chinchilla breeding became a common practice.
Types of Chinchillas
There are two known types of modern Chinchillas. These are the Chinchilla Brevicaudata (short-tailed chinchillas) and the Chinchilla Lanigera (long-tailed chinchillas. The Brevicaudata originally hails from Bolivia and Peru. The breed has a short tail and was prized for its exquisite fur – almost to the point of extinction.
The Lanigera, on the other hand, has a long tail and hails from Chile. The term “lanigera” means “with a woolen coat”. However, the Lanigera does not have wool or fur. Its body is actually covered with soft and sleek hair.
The Lanigera chinchilla can be divided into three subtypes. First is the LaPlata which has a short head that’s round and muscular. Second is the Costina which has long hind legs, a pointed nose, and a slight hump. Last is the Raton which resembles the LaPlata but is smaller in size. It also has a pointed nose like that of the Costina.
What are the different colors of Chinchilla?
The natural standard color of the chinchilla is a violet gray color but there are other chinchilla colors. These colors are considered mutations.
The standard color can have differences such as a crisp white belly. It should also have a blue hue and a strong veiling. The standard colors are classified into four categories and they are extra dark, dark, medium, and light.
There are also quite a few mutated chinchilla colors.
Chinchillas are considered rodents and are native to South America. They are usually farmed raised and grown mainly for their fur. The fur is used to make clothing and any chinchilla fur clothing is very expensive. Many people also choose to keep chinchillas as pets. They are smaller animals and they are also easy to take care of.
The brevicaudata has a stouter, thicker body and a shortened tail and it is currently facing extinction. The lanigera has bigger ears and a longer tail and all domesticated breeds come for the lanigera. There was also a giant type of chinchilla but it has been hunted to extinction.
The most common type of mutating chinchilla color is ebony.
The colors can be black to light gray. It only takes a single chinchilla parent to pass on the ebony gene to the offspring.
Ebony chinchillas do not have a white underbelly area. It will have a shiny uniform color all over the body.
The ebony chinchilla also has a blue hue and strong veiling but these types of chinchilla can take longer to reach maturity than other types. Most chins reach maturity between 8 to 12 months. While ebony chinchillas can take up to 2 years to fully mature.
The charcoal chinchilla is another type of mutation. Unlike ebony, it takes both parents with the charcoal gene to produce one of these chinchillas.
The fur will be more matte than glossy and when a charcoal chinchilla mates with a brown velvet the result is another type of chinchilla called the charred brown.
The black velvet chinchilla is said to have fur that actually feels like velvet. It has a fully veiled face and the color extends to the back of the animal. This type of chinchilla has a white underbelly area and a blue hue that is said to be beautiful.
The homo beige mutated chinchilla has distinctive pink ears and red eyes and it is a very light beige color. The hetero beige chinchilla can be a bit darker in color but it still has the red eyes and pink ears. The ears can also be freckled.
Both types of beige chinchilla have a white underbelly and the topcoat should have a blue hue. If any type of beige chinchilla is bred with black velvet, it will produce a brown velvet but it will have a distinctive brown veil. Pearl chinchillas are a cross between the beige and violet chinchillas. The pearl chinchilla is said to have the softest fur.
White chinchilla colors can vary. A pink white chinchilla carries the beige gene. They also have red eyes and pink ears that can have freckles. They can have batches of beige all over the fur and this is known as the pink white mosaic chinchilla.
The mosaic chinchilla is bred with a standard colored chinchilla. They are a lighter color but they have dark eyes and ears. Mosaics can have colored patches or show a distinct pattern of color. The fur can also have a silver tint. These types of chinchillas are usually bred with black velvets.
The Chinchilla is famous for its luxurious fur. Its soft texture and even color make it perfect for making coats and scarves. However, since the animal is small, numerous chinchillas are needed to make pieces of clothing. That’s why chinchilla breeding is a common practice.
Chinchillas can be bred throughout the year. Females usually carry their young for around 111 days. Their conception period is longer than their animal relatives. And because their conception takes a long time, their babies come out with a full body of fur and open eyes.
Interesting Facts about the Chinchilla
Before you take on a pet chinchilla, you should do your homework first and find out as much as you can about this exotic animal.
One of these basic facts is that the chinchilla is a nocturnal animal. This means that the animal is awake during the night and asleep during the day.
If you are a morning person and do not mind being woken up by sounds during the night, the chinchilla may be an okay pet for you.
But if you are easily disrupted by noises in the night and would rather enjoy your sleep, then you might want to think twice about owning a pet chinchilla.
Chinchilla Facts – Hyperactive Pets
The chinchilla is also known to be a hyperactive animal. This means that they like to run around and to keep busy when they are awake.
If you plan on having a pet chinchilla for yourself, make sure that you have enough space for the animal to roam in. You can get a large cage, or sometimes, other chinchilla owners even set up a special space or room in the house just for their pet chinchilla.
Because of the hyperactive nature of this animal, you should also make sure that there are enough things to keep them busy. Chew toys are a good way to keep them from getting bored, but make sure that you use only wooden toys and not those made of plastic as the latter could harm their internal organs.
Chinchilla Facts – Exercising
More than toys, a chinchilla also needs its regular daily dose of exercise.
It is recommended that the chinchilla be brought out of its cage and exposed to an outdoor environment for at least thirty minutes every day. This not only gives the animal a larger space to roam around in, but it also helps it get the feel of the natural surroundings which could help it live a healthier life.
Chinchilla Facts – Heat and Humidity
Another thing that you should be mindful of if you wish to take care of a pet chinchilla is the level of heat and humidity in the home.
The chinchilla has the thickest fur among all land animals, making it very sensitive to high levels of heat and humidity.
If room temperature exceeds 25 ° C then you should take precautions to protect animals. If it’s warmer and more than 30 ° C, then you are in a mess.
You can give chinchillas a bowl of ice cubes and watch them nestle there to cool.
After attempts to cool them, but notice that your furry friend isn’t behaving normally or as active as usual, not waking up at the usual time, then it’s possible your pet may have thermal shock which often can be fatal.
If you want to take care of a pet chinchilla, make sure that you have a controlled environment where the temperature does not go higher than 70 degrees, and the humidity does not exceed 80 percent.
How Long do Chinchillas live? Chinchilla LifeSpan
What is the lifespan of chinchillas? A chinchilla that is taken into domestic care normally lives for around fifteen to twenty years.
This lifespan is relatively long, but of course, the proper care is needed for the chinchilla to reach this number of years. If you are looking for a pet that will live in this span of time and if you are willing to take on the commitment, then the chinchilla could be the pet for you.
Chinchilla Facts – What Do Chinchillas Eat?
As a responsible chinchilla owner, you should, of course, make sure that you feed your pet with the right kinds of food.
The chinchilla is quite a sensitive animal, and the wrong foods can cause harm and even an untimely death for this adorable creature.
The best diet for chinchillas is loose hay.
They can also have dried fruits, but only in moderation and in small quantities. Green plants are not a good idea for what to feed your chinchilla. Their digestive organs may not be able to process it properly and may thus cause damage and harm to your pet. Similarly, fresh vegetables are not good for the chinchilla as these can cause the stomach to expand, thus causing a fatal reaction.
Essential Guidelines before Getting a Pet Chinchilla
Chinchillas are incredibly cute and fun to have as pets, but they require a lot more attention compared to common pets.
That is because chinchillas are exotic animals and a chinchilla parent would need to shell out some more money in order to ensure that your pet gets all its needs. Below are very essential guidelines that you need to know before you go and buy a chinchilla.
The first thing you need to do is to read up on a lot of books and websites that will teach you on how to care for a pet chinchilla. When you have a strong urge to buy one from a pet shop, give yourself a week first to study. Being uninformed on how to care for it will lead both you and the pet to suffer and can be fatal to it.
Keep in mind as well that there are certain laws in some areas that have to do with exotic animals, and one of them being the chinchilla. Make sure that you consult the authorities first before you get a chinchilla for a pet as some states require you to have a permit to keep one.
Once you have decided on getting one and have done your research, you will need to get an estimate of how much it will cost you to purchase the pet and buy its food and other supplies. Getting a pet is not that different from adopting a child because they need constant care and a lot of responsibility. If you cannot afford to keep a chinchilla, it is best if you just admire them at the pet shop.
Think about the cage for your chinchilla, as well as a place where you can purchase the dust for its dust bath and other supplies. Also, find a veterinarian that can treat chinchillas so that you will know where to go in case your pet exhibits symptoms of illness. Always make sure to have all the supplies ready before you purchase your chinchilla so that it can have everything waiting for it. Do not wait until you need something in order to buy it for your pet.
In case you need to leave your chinchilla behind, such as when you need to go on a business trip, make sure that you have someone who would have the time and know-how to take care of it. Remember that chinchillas require regular maintenance of their cage and frequent supply of food and drinks, as well as their dust bath regimen.
Lastly, if you want to keep a chinchilla, you can either get a cage that is really big for it to have enough space for running or you can get an average cage and make your home more conducive to your chinchilla. Factors such as temperature will affect the health of your pet.
Always know that having a pet carries a lot of responsibilities. It is dependent on you in terms of all of its needs, from food and shelter to protection.
Things to Know If You’re Thinking About Buying a Chinchilla
Many pet owners buy Chinchillas without planning or evaluating their situation. The truth is, taking care of a chinchilla involves a lot of hard work and patience. That’s why owners should evaluate and educate themselves before getting a pet chin.
Where to Purchase
Chinchillas can be bought from two sources: breeders and pet stores. Most people would recommend directly buying from a reputable breeder. That’s because breeders pay special attention to their pets to maintain their line and breed. Breeders are also considered experts on their chosen animals. That’s why they can offer important advice on the pet’s overall care. However, not all localities have chinchilla breeders so getting in contact with one may be a problem.
If there are no chinchilla breeders in a locality, an owner may have no choice but to buy from a pet store. Buying from a pet store can be advantageous because they also sell accessories that are needed to raise pets. However, pet store owners may only have basic knowledge of chinchilla care. That means they won’t be able to share pertinent knowledge regarding the pet.
There are certain advantages and disadvantages to buying from breeders and pet stores and it is up to the buyer to weigh them. What’s important is that the potential buyer evaluates the reputation of his sources.
What to Look Out For
Less than reputable breeders and pet stores will always find a way to take advantage of their unsuspecting customers. That’s why chinchilla lovers, particularly novice owners, should be careful with their purchases.
For example, amateur breeders may not have the facilities or training to successfully breed chinchillas. As a result, the chinchillas they offer are unhealthy and unhappy.
Some chinchillas are unable to breed or have skin problems.
Others may have behavioral problems. These may result from poor breeding practices.
Therefore, before purchasing chinchillas, it’s best to ask about the breeder’s history.
Find out who the breeder is and how the pets were raised. Also, always secure the pet’s medical certificate. This will help potential owners evaluate the overall health of the chinchilla and allow their personal vets to determine what care or vaccines are lacking.
Potential owners should also know about the chinchilla’s age. Chinchillas should be at least four months old before they can be sold. Similarly, watch out for chinchillas that appear nervous or irritable when approached by humans or other animals. Behavioral problems often arise from improper handling and poor living conditions. Chinchillas that are too young or too irritable can be difficult to handle and train.
Protecting Yourself from Bad Purchases
The best-known way one could protect themselves from bad purchases is to talk to multiple breeders and pet stores before buying a pet. However, if there is only one breeder or pet store in the area, the potential owner may have no choice. Still, there are precautionary measures that he can take.
For example, the buyer may ask the seller to form a contingency agreement.
In the contingency agreement, the buyer will have his chosen chinchilla examined by his vet. If the pet does not pass the vet’s initial inspection, then the owner can return the pet and get a refund or replacement.
Are You Allergic to Chinchillas? – Things to Know About Chinchilla Allergy
Chinchillas are excellent pets to have because they’re cute, cuddly and full of energy. However, they may become problematic for pet owners who have allergies to fur, dust, and hay. That’s because by taking care of their pet chins, owners are likely to get exposed to these materials.
Fur, Dust, and Hay
Fur, dust, and hay are well-known allergens. However, exposure to them is unavoidable when dealing with Chinchillas. For instance, chinchillas are covered with luxurious fur that they shed every month. Hay, on the other hand, is part of their diet. They also undergo dust baths twice a week to keep their coats looking good.
Fur, dust, and hay may also absorb protein particles that come from dry saliva and urine. When the body detects these allergens and particles, it tries to defend itself by attacking them. This is known as an inflammatory reaction.
Allergic rhinitis is a common form of allergy among Chinchilla owners. Rhinitis is the inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the walls of the nasal cavity. What’s interesting is the fact that the allergies don’t manifest right away. It can take months or even years before the symptoms start appearing.
Unfortunately, the delayed appearance of symptoms makes it hard to treat the disease. That’s because the owners believe their allergies couldn’t have come from their pets. However, since it’s been proven that long-term exposure to chinchillas can cause allergies, it’s best to take precautionary measures to prevent the condition.
Owners with respiratory-related allergies often experience difficulty breathing during and after taking care of their chinchilla pets. Most of them need to constantly have their inhalers with them, especially when dealing with the hay and dust.
Some owners who love chinchillas but have allergies try to eliminate the hay and dust from their pet care strategies. Although doing so may spare the owner from further allergies, it makes the chinchillas suffer. That’s because hay and dust are essential parts of their diet and grooming. Without these two items, the chin may become unhealthy and unhappy.
Owners who could no longer tolerate the allergic reactions they get from their chinchillas submit their pets for rehoming. Rehoming is the process of returning a pet so it could be reassigned to a new owner or home. Rehoming can cause behavioral problems with pets, so it must only be done as a last resort.
Minimizing Chinchilla Allergies
For chinchilla lovers with mild allergies, hope is not lost. There are certain ways that can help reduce or prevent allergic reactions to chinchillas. For example, when administering a dust bath, cover the pet’s cage with a breathable sheet. Also, make sure any fans are turned off and the windows are closed. This will prevent the dust from circulating in the room.
Once everything is prepared, leave the room and allow the chinchilla to dust bathe for 20 minutes. Only return to the room when the dust has settled. Some pet shops sell dust that doesn’t flutter around in the room. Buying this type of dust will prevent owners from inhaling the particles. However, it can be costly.
Essential Guide on Caring for Chinchillas
Caring for chinchillas is quite simple, as long as you are aware of the proper way of providing your pet its basic needs. This guide can help new pet owners in raising their chinchillas and ensure their excellent condition at all times.
You can choose from a number of good brands of pellets or feeds that are available for your pet. One of the best brands you can find in the market is Oxbow because of its high quality and reasonable price. In feeding your pet, make sure you stick the recommended amount, which is 2 tablespoons of pellets per day. Aside from giving them pellets to eat, you may give your pet at least a handful of timothy hay a day. You can check this out at most pet supply stores where you can buy pellets, as well.
Your chinchillas will also need fresh drinking water at all times. Keep in mind that they drink straight from a water bottle that is fastened tot he cage. Check the height of the bottle, and make sure that your pet can reach it easily.
Just like other pets, giving treats to your chinchilla is not a bad thing; however, you should limit the number of treats to a maximum of 2 or 3 pieces of raisins or a type of treat sticks a week. You should understand that these creatures have a sensitive digestive system, and they thrive well on pellets and hay diets only.
One last important thing you should keep in mind in feeding your pet is by giving chew sticks occasionally. These chew sticks are something that your chinchilla can gnaw on to wear down its teeth. Inquire from your local pet supply store to purchase chew sticks specifically formulated for chinchillas.
It is important to note that it is not healthy for chinchillas to get wet, and that’s because they have dense fur that makes it impossible to air-dry once wet. Thus, moisture tends to stay on their skin for a prolonged duration of time, which makes them susceptible to fungal infections. In case your furry friend becomes wet by accident, do not panic, you may dry it with a hairdryer set in “cool” or by rubbing its fur with a towel.
Unlike other types of household pets, chinchillas are given a dust bath at least twice a week. You can purchase dusting powder made for chinchillas from your pet supply store. In bathing your pet, prepare a large container where the chinchilla can roll around comfortably. The best container for bathing your pet is one that comes with a cover, so you can prevent fine dust from flying around the room when your chinchilla starts to roll around. The purpose of giving your pet a dust bath is to remove excess oil and dirt in its fur.
Chinchillas are agile creatures, and they enjoy jumping around more than anything. Thus, make sure you give your pet a spacious cage with numerous platforms, so it can jump freely. If you wish, you may place a box or igloo inside the cage, which they can use for sleeping and hiding.
Since these creatures have thick fur, they are unable to tolerate intense hear, so you must place your pet in an area with a temperature of lower than 80 degrees. One last important fact about chinchillas is their active behavior at night. They tend to be so playful during the night, so the best place to position the cage is somewhere farther from your bedroom. This way, you can sleep peacefully while your little pets enjoy playing and jumping around in their cage.
Water and Supplement Treats for Your Pet Chinchilla
Like any living, breathing organism, pet chinchillas require a daily intake of water in order to survive.
The water consumed, of course, needs to be fresh and clean for safe consumption, so it’s exigent that water should be changed every day to prevent bacteria from spreading. Bacteria can lead to serious health risks if left unattended. To ensure that the water you feed your pet chinchilla is free from bacteria, don’t use a standard bowl. Standing water can easily collect bacteria if left on its own. You also may run the risk of having the bowl upended, which can cause quite a mess. What you can use is a water bottle that you can put on the side of the cage.
The water bottles should always be cleaned in order to keep it bacteria-free.
Soaking them in hot water can definitely do the job.
A spare water bottle should also come in handy so that the chinchilla can still drink water if the current one needs to be replaced. Pet chinchillas also prefer pure water and nothing else. So don’t add anything to it.
Giving your pet chinchilla the occasional treat is good for its overall health and happiness.
It should be done in moderation, though, lest it affects the creature’s digestive system. Over-feeding the chinchilla with tasty treats may also cause it to become overweight. Obesity causes a chinchilla to have a lower life-span.
For treats, raisins should do the trick.
The right amount of feeding is about 3-4 raisins each week.
If the chinchilla is still too young, give only half of the raisins. A good alternative to raisins are dried fruits (use the ones without sulfite preservatives). The most popular ones are berries, apples (in small slices), and grapes. If there’s a sign of diarrhea, you can provide the chinchilla instant relief by feeding it a spoonful of shredded wheat. Rolled oats sans the preservatives can also do the job. For a healthier and better-looking coat, you can feed the chinchilla black oil sunflower seeds. Avoid feeding the creature heavy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli.
Another good reason to not overfeed the chinchilla with treats is that it may cause the chinchilla to ignore the chinchilla pellets.
Don’t mix the pellets with the treats or the creature will only go for the latter. To promote stronger teeth, you can use chew toys made of certain types of wood such as white pine or applewood. For feet support, pine boards can be used as a foundation for the wire mesh material support the chinchilla treads on.
Wood types that should be avoided are
Ultimately, f you want some useful advice on which types of chew toys to use, you can consult your local pet store.
Young/Baby Chinchilla Feeding
If you got a young pet chinchilla, the rules concerning its diet will be a little different.
The digestive system isn’t fully developed yet so it’s advisable that you consult with a veterinarian or a chinchilla breeder. Once you’ve familiarised yourself with how to take good care of a chinchilla and the things that need to be avoided, your little friend is guaranteed a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Quick Tips on How to Set Up a Home that Your Pet Chinchilla Will Love
However, chinchillas that have been held captive and have become pets are at the mercy of their human owners.
If you are serious and responsible enough to keep a pet chinchilla, you will need to make sure that you provide a comfortable cage for your pet that is cool and quiet. The cage should also have ample space for your pet to run and explore. Chinchillas are naturally active creatures and they need to have sufficient place to play in.
Always make sure to purchase a very good cage or tank before you get a pet chinchilla. In choosing the cage, make sure that it is wide with at least approximately 2 feet by 2 feet of floor space. It is even better if the cage has some levels, ladders and spacious tubes for your pet chinchilla to explore.
A wire mesh cage is good for chinchillas because it keeps their fur nice and dry, but you have to make sure that half of the flooring is covered with wood. To make daily cleaning more efficient, you can place a pull-out tray with wood shavings to absorb your pet’s poop and urine.
Place your pet’s cage in a safe place indoors that is not hit by direct sunlight. Chinchillas need to be kept in a comfortably cool area and if it gets too hot, a pan of ice cubes next to their cage will help maintain a good temperature for them.
Feed and water your beloved pet chinchilla using heave glass or ceramic food and water bowls so that they cannot tip them over or chew the bowls. Add just enough water and change it frequently to avoid giving them contaminated water.
Pet chinchillas love to play, so you can give them toys to play with such as a tree branch, a willow ball or ring, or a wooden or pumice block. Make sure that the toys are free from chemicals such as pesticides. It should also not be made of plastic as chinchillas tend to chew on their toys in order to help keep their teeth at a good size.
A wheel can provide good exercise for your chinchilla as long as he or she is still young since the older ones do not usually use them. Choose a metal wheel that about 12 to 15 inches in circumference and have it securely installed in the cage.
You can allow your pet chinchilla to play outside of his or her cage as long as you keep a close eye on him or her. Ensure that the place is free from any sort of harm such as a power cord. Carefully allow your pet to go back to his or her cage by enticing them with a piece of dried fruit. Never try to chase your chinchilla back into his or her cage as this will not just stress them and yourself out.
Keeping Your Chinchilla’s Cage Clean and Safe
Chinchillas are exotic mammals with a life expectancy of 10-15 years. As pets, they will probably live most of their lives in a cage. Therefore, it is essential for owners to select their cage properly and to constantly keep it safe and clean.
Cleaning the Cage
Chinchillas can be messy animals because they feed on hay, shed fur every month and require dust baths. That’s why owners are required to regularly clean their pets’ cages.
Typically, a chinchilla’s cage has to be cleaned once a week. The first step is to get and throw away the pet’s soiled beddings. Sweeping the cage may also help remove stuck beddings. Once this is done, the cage should be scrubbed clean. Cleaning can be done in the shower, but it’s best done outside so all the fur and dirt don’t get onto clothes, towels or other household items.
Chinchilla owners should use some disinfectant and a soaked brush to scrub away all the dirt that’s accumulated in the cage.
If a disinfectant is not available, the cage can be cleaned with some cornstarch or baking powder. Simply sprinkle the powder onto the areas they commonly urinate on. After a few minutes, the powder can be scrubbed away.
Another home cleaning agent is vinegar. A mixture of 50% water and 50% plain white vinegar can be sprayed onto the cage. Scrub the cage with the vinegar mixture and rinse it off.
After rinsing, the cage has to be dried thoroughly. Improperly dried metal cages can rust. Similarly, fungus and mold can thrive in moist areas, consequently threatening the health of the chinchilla.
The Bedding and Flooring
Chinchilla cages with solid flooring should have beddings that are constantly changed. That’s because all the urine and droppings have nowhere to go and they get soaked up by the bedding.
Wire mesh flooring on cages helps drain away from the urine and droppings. However, it does pose a threat to the feet of chinchillas. Their feet can easily get caught in between the holes of the mesh. If they try to run or struggle, they can break their fragile feet.
Getting caught in the wire mesh flooring will also cause fear and stress to the chinchilla. The stress can lead to shock if they are not released immediately. Therefore, when getting a mesh floor cage, the mesh itself should cover only half of the cage. Other areas should have alternative floorings such as wood or plastic. The solid floor areas will help give the chinchilla’s feet some rest.
Owners can also install shelves, platforms, and branches into their pet’s cages. These can serve as resting stations and will also serve as stations for the chinchilla to jump and play.
Covering the Cage
It is advisable for chinchilla owners to get an opaque sheet that can cover their pet’s cage. The sheet will serve as a barrier that will prevent dust from flying into the room whenever the chinchilla is having a dust bath. Similarly, the sheet also serves as a form of shading that can block excess sunlight during the day.
How to You Earn Your Chinchilla’s Trust?
Just like with every single human relationship, you will have to earn a chinchilla’s trust before it allows you to pet them. Especially when untamed, it could take months before a chinchilla warms up to its owner. If provided with love and care are shown in consistency, this lengthy period could be shortened but if you prefer an easier pet, a baby chinchilla would be more trusting.
The Dos and Don’ts in Taming a Pet Chinchilla
Unlike cats and dogs, chinchillas are more difficult to tame. They are naturally smug and ignore your cooing, calling and petting until it gets the kind of respect it wants. In order to gain your pet chinchilla’s trust and respect, here are some of the things that you should and shouldn’t do:
- Use treats to coax it towards you. Chinchillas are more likely to avoid the spot where you are and do not always approach when you call. In such cases, a treat will entice them to move towards you. You will know when your pet chinchilla is no longer afraid of you when it can take treats directly from your fingers.
- Speak in a calming tone or manner. Chinchillas are like most rodents; they have a tendency to become nervous with their surroundings and easily get startled. To earn its trust, show and emit calmness through your voice tone.
- Keep it close to your body. Besides giving it warmth and a sense of security, keeping a chinchilla close to your body will prevent it from suddenly skipping off. If it buries its head under your arm or covers its face in your hand, let it. There is no better way to earn a pet’s trust than letting it find security in you.
- Do not grab it by the ribs, squeeze or apply pressure on it. A chinchilla’s body is quite delicate and its ribcage is sensitive. Grabbing it by the ribs could put enough force to cause a fracture so avoid doing this. Instead, scooping it up by its full body starting from its bottom or rear.
- Squeezing is absolutely non-exceptional. Any living thing should not be treated carelessly and sadistically. If squeezed, whether intentionally or unintentionally, a chinchilla will react by either squeaking loudly or biting your hands to getaway.
- Do not hold it by the tail, especially upside down and by the tip of the tail. While some pet rodents are normally held by the tail by sellers and owners, doing the same to a chinchilla could cost it its tail. It is the chinchillas’ form of defense mechanism.
Signs your Pet Chinchilla is Becoming Tame
Follow these simple tips and your pet chinchilla will warm up to you in time. You will be able to know if it is starting to trust you once it shows one or more of these things:
- Snuggling up to you.
- Lets you stroke its body.
- Follows you around.
- Searches your palm when you offer it.
- Sniffs around your clothes and body.
- Lets you touch and curl its tail.
What to Do if Your Child Asks for a Pet Chinchilla
You know that the day when your child will ask you to buy him a pet will eventually come. And suddenly, he asks for a chinchilla.
You probably didn’t know what a chinchilla was the first time you hear it from him, and so you ask him and then he tells you that it’s a rodent.
You ask yourself, ‘whatever happened to want a puppy or a kitten instead?’
The child probably has seen a friend bring one to school, and you have to admit, after some time, that those little rodents indeed look very cute.
You try to talk your child into buying a more traditional pet like say, a cat or a dog, but he just wouldn’t ask for anything else. And so you do your research on chinchillas as any responsible parent would. You ask yourself if your child is even old enough to take care of a pet, and a chinchilla no less.
But now it’s time for you to have a talk with your child about taking responsibility.
You tell him that he should take care of the chinchilla and make sure that he provides it the type of environment that will ensure its survival and happiness. Of course, you have to realize that your child will need your assistance too.
You also have to ask your child whether he is ready to place an emotional attachment with a chinchilla.
You have to let him know what’s at stake, that taking care of an exotic pet is no child’s play. Point out to him that a chinchilla requires more maintenance than the usual pet. You have to give your child a sense of urgency that is sorely needed in taking care of an animal.
It should also be noted that chinchillas like to roam a lot.
Since you can’t have it running around the home all the time, it’s imperative that you buy the chinchilla a cage it can call home. The cage, however, should have an exercise wheel it can use to release pent-up energy. Some chew toys can be thrown in the cage as well for good measure. Chinchillas need exercise and recreation just as humans do. Nonetheless, the chinchilla should be allowed to be let out of the cage for at least 30 minutes so that it can satisfy its roaming instincts.
The chinchilla should also be groomed regularly.
A weekly dust bath can easily do the job since it kills the germs and prevents the fur from getting matted. The cage should always be in a place with normal room temperature. It should also be noted that chinchillas have a sensitive digestive system, so no fatty and rich diets for the little creature, please. Its daily diet should consist of chinchilla pellets and fresh grass hay. For special treats, dried fruit and raisins should satisfy the creature’s palette.
Once all of the things discussed here have been considered by you and your child and he still insists on having a chinchilla for a pet, then, by all means, go ahead and buy one. You (and your child even more so) will be glad for it.
Should Your Child Take a Pet Chinchilla to School?
No matter how much your child asks you and begs you to let him bring your pet chinchilla to school, the answer should be no. Of course, as a parent who is much wiser than the child, you should be able to explain to your child why taking a pet chinchilla to school may be harmful not only for the chinchilla but for the other people at school as well.
There are basic facts about the chinchilla that make them hard to bring to school or to any environment outside of their own, and it is the parent’s responsibility to be able to explain these well to the children.
Chinchillas Are Nocturnal Animals
The first basic reason your child should not take a chinchilla to school is that the chinchilla is a nocturnal animal. This means that the pet is awake during the night, and therefore catches up on sleep during the day. We all know that humans and children, in particular, have the opposite nature.
If the chinchilla is brought out during the day, it is highly unlikely that the pet will be able to get any sleep. This can cause much stress on the animal, leading them to bite their fur, spray urine, and act unfriendly towards anyone who disturbs them.
Chinchillas Need Large Spaces and Constant Supervision
Another reason a pet chinchilla should not be brought to school is that it needs a large space and constant supervision. The cage or container should be large enough for the chinchilla to feel comfortable in. It is also important for the chinchilla to be able to get some exercise and this is why a large cage is most ideal even for such a small pet.
If you bring the chinchilla out of the cage, you will need to supervise it very well and make sure to watch it attentively. Of course, doing so is not an easy thing to do for any child or even for the teacher. The school is a busy environment and it is no place for the chinchilla.
Chinchillas and Temperature
Chinchillas by their very nature cannot stand too much heat and humidity. If it becomes too hot or too humid at school, this can cause the animal to get stressed and even feel weak to the point of sickness. It may be possible that an air conditioner or a fan be used for the chinchilla, but in a room full of children, the animal will be the least of everyone’s concerns.
Chinchillas Do Not Like to Be Held
Although the chinchilla can be considered as a pet, it is not the type of pet that wants to be held and petted all the time. The chinchilla is by nature hyperactive and likes to move around and also enjoys its independence and freedom. If it is held too much, which is likely to happen in a room full of kids, the animal may get irritated and may bite or scratch the children.
There are also instances where the chinchilla may be dropped or may fall from high places. If this happens, a fracture or other forms of injury may occur. This may not seem like much but a fractured limb could eventually be needed to be amputated, thus damaging the chinchilla for good.
It is not a good idea to bring a pet chinchilla to school. There are children who may not be able to control their tempers around the animal, and they may not know the proper way to handle the animal either. Also, children may have allergies that chinchilla can stimulate. If this happens, it will be too much stress on everyone around, including the chinchilla.
Chinchilla Stress Signs
Bringing a pet chinchilla into your home can be very stressful, not only for you and your family, but for the little chin as well.
Like most other animals, the chinchilla can be very sensitive to changes in the environment. It needs time to adjust before it can feel at ease in its new home. Sometimes, even if the chinchilla is already comfortable in the home, the stress of those around this little animal can also affect and cause worry on the chinchilla.
Signs of Chinchilla Stress
Signs that chinchilla experiences stress can come in different forms. Oftentimes, these signs of stress are expressed in anti-social behaviors such as biting, fighting, and spraying urine. There are also times when stress manifests itself through infections in the pet’s body such as rashes or irritation of the eyes and the skin.
The problem is that many owners think that these behaviors are simply part of the animal’s personality or that the irritations on the skin and the eyes are caused by other factors. Very few know that these are actually signs and symptoms that the chinchilla is undergoing a great deal of stress, and when left unattended, can turn into chronic illnesses and behavioral issues.
Achieving Balance Between Two Extremes
One of the first and basic things that chinchilla owners need to achieve is a balanced environment for their pets. People are often used to everyday stress and are often immune to the things that can actually cause anxiety on the body and the senses. Chinchillas, on the other hand, are more sensitive even to the littlest of factors.
Noise and Activity
Two of the aspects in the home that a chinchilla owner needs to balance properly are the noise and level of activity. For example, if a home is too noisy, the chinchilla will, of course, be anxious and stressed out. If the environment is too quiet however, the chinchilla may be stressed by every little movement or noise once it happens.
Similar to the level of activity, people who wish to take care of chinchillas should not shock the animal with too much fussing. Instead, the noise and level of activity should be somewhere in between the two extremes, and it should be kept that way so that the chinchilla may avoid stress and anxieties.
One of the things that a chinchilla owner can do to help avoid environmental stress for his or her pet is to make sure that there is an adjustment period for the animal to settle in. The environment from where the chinchilla came from is most probably different from the environment in the new home that the chinchilla will have.
Again, make sure that there is a level of balance in the atmosphere, and also make sure that the animal has some time to properly adjust. This adjustment period can take from a few days to a week or two and will give the animal a chance to know its surroundings better.
Soft Music and A Little Sensitivity
To help their pets with settling in and adjusting to their new homes, some chinchilla owners even make use of soft music such as jazz to keep the animal calm and feel relaxed in its new environment. Of course, it is also important that the pet owner be sensitive to the animal’s needs.
Always make sure that the basic necessities such as food and water are given on a regular schedule, and try to watch out for any signs of the animal being stressed. This way, environmental stress may be avoided and the chinchilla and its owner will get along very well.
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Hopefully, this article will help you get to know, understand, and love your chinchilla, and ultimately be rewarded by your new furry friend too.
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