Want A Chinchilla As A Pet? Here's Where To Start If you want a chinchilla as a pet, you can keep a domestic chinchilla. They are known to have nervous tendencies and are night owls. They like to stay up at night and be active. They also don't care for someone holding them. However, they can be friendly animals, but it will take a while for them to get used to their owner. They're not easily coerced into getting close to people. The owner has to earn their trust, just like a human relationship. Chinchillas that become captive have a life span from 15 to 20 years. They can be noisy, making sounds in the form of chirping, barking and squeaking. They use these noises to communicate and express their feelings. If you are not an early riser, you may have to deal with them making noise in the wee hours of the morning. If you are sensitive to noise while you sleep, a chinchilla may not be for you. It's ok to have more than one chinchilla of the same gender, as long as their personalities don't clash. If they interact when they're still young, they have a better chance of enduring each other. If they're older, it may take a little longer for them to form a bonding. If you have a male and female in the same domain, they will have to be sterilized so to prevent procreation of offspring. The chinchillas are so full of life, that it's necessary for them to have plenty of space for them to roam. If you have a house, you should set aside a room just for them. You can also house them in a cage, as long as it's large enough with items that they can play with. They also require wooden toys (birch, willow apple tree or manzanita is acceptable) and chew toys to entertain them. Please keep in mind that chinchillas should not have plastic toys because the plastic can damage the intestinal area. The cage itself must have plenty of air circulation because they don't sweat much. Getting too sweaty can cause them to have a heat stroke. Don't keep the animals in the cage the whole time. It's good if they get some outside exposure (at least 30 minutes a day, under the watchful eye of the owner). They need exercise and get a feel of their outside surroundings. If the chinchilla gets wet, they have to be dried off rather quickly. If not, their fur will collect fungus. You can use a blow dryer on a low cool temperature and you can also use a towel (best choice). For their eating regimen, chinchillas cannot consume fatty foods. They can only eat so much of green plants. The best dietary plan for them is loose hay. They can also have a raisin or other kinds of dried fruit, but only in moderation. Don't give them fresh vegetables as their stomach can expand and cause a fatal reaction. When they eat, they do so in small portions and they also drink water in small sips. They can drink water from a water bottle and the water must be fresh at all times. Because they can't ingest a lot of fat in their system, nuts are to be avoided. What You Should Know About Buying A Chinchilla Chinchillas are available for purchase from breeders or pet stores. When you purchase one from either place, you're probably getting a reputable one. Beware of those who are amateur breeders. They try to sell their chinchillas also, but it's usually in classified advertisements. Personal preferences decide on whether or not they should buy the pets from breeders or pet stores. If you do buy one from a pet store, make sure that facility has a reputable following. The employees there should be knowledgeable about what you're looking to buy. They should also be able to offer you tips and suggestions to keep your pet healthy. If you're looking more on the breeding side, you should get one from a breeder. They will be able to advise you on the different aspect of breeding, etc. Buying a chinchilla from a pet store is not without its risks. It's been noted that some pet stores take chinchillas that can't be bred or the skin can't be removed. If you are considering one of these pets from the pet store, ask about the breeders and related sources, along with a history of how they were raised. This way, if they have any problems, you'll know up front. Then you can decide whether or not you want to still take on the task. If you can' insist a breeder in your area, then a pet store is probably your only recourse. If you have to get one from the pet store, ask how long have they been in the store's care. If you do decide to buy one from there, consult with the employees about getting a contingency agreement. This agreement allows you to return the pet if they don't pass a checkup. You would also get a refund from your purchase. There are other factors to consider before buying a chinchilla. Make sure your are prepared to take care of the animal. This is something you have to be committed to and it takes time for them to nuture and develop. Check and make sure that the chinchilla is healthy. Check out their entire body for any abornormalties. The animal's cage should be clean. If it isn't, it may mean that it wasn't taken care of properly. The chinchilla may be disturbed and irritable if it has been paired up with different animals, such as birds or rabbits. This throws off their system during the day because chinchillas are night owls. If you do buy a chinchilla, get one that is at least four months old. Anything younger than three months is not ready to be trained. Make sure the animal is in a cage that is located in a dry area. They need to be somewhere where they don't have direct exposure to the sun. They need to be away from heat and humidity because it can cause them harm. If you find that the chinchilla has a nervous tendency when you get close to it, it may be a sign of being nervous and scared. It's difficult to use these type of pets. It is important that the chinchilla have food, hay and water. These are essentials that your pet should have in order to stay healthy. The History of the Chinchilla This exotic animal was named after the Chincha people of the Andes region. The Andes Mountains in South America. Chinchilla actually means "little Chincha". Back around the close of the 19th century, the animals were known for their thick and soft fur. There are two types of chinchillas. The chinchilla brevicaudata, which is also known as the Bolivian, Peruvian and Royal chinchilla, has a short tail. They came from the Andes Mountains in the regions of Chile, Peru and Bolivia. This chinchilla was on the verge of becoming extinct and were known for the exquisite fur. Even with the fur, the population of these animals continued to decrease. The chinchilla lanigera, which is also known as the Chilean, Coastal or Lesser chinchilla, has a long tail. This species of chinchilla can be found in Chile. Even though the word "lanigera" means "having a woolen coat", they are covered with hair instead. The hair is soft, sleek and sticks to their skin. There are three types of chinchilla lanigera: The LaPlata are muscular, round and have a short head. The Costina has longer hind legs, slight hump and a pointed nose. The Raton is similar to the LaPlata in they way it's structured. It has a pointed nose and they are of a smaller size. Burrows or cracks in rocks are where chinchillas reside. They can jump very well and at least up to 5 feet high. When residing in the wild, chinchillas consume fruits, seeds, plants and small insects. As far as breeding is concerned, that can take place at any time of the year. When the female chinchillas do procreate, their average length of pregnancy is 111 days. For a chinchilla, that's a long period of time compared to other animals in that group. Because their pregnancies are so long, their offspring are born with their eyes open and their body full of fur. At the time of delivery, their litter is usually one or two, with the two more times than not are twins. The first try of breeding started in 1895. In that same year, the first animal was born and each year two litters were born. In the summer of 1896, an unknown disease halted the breeding process. By then, there were 13 animals and all of them succumbed within two months time. Around 1918, there was a resurgence of chinchillas. A man from California was interested in trapping chinchillas so he could raise them as pets. At first, the Chilean government refused, but as the man kept asking, the government relented. During three year period, only eleven chinchillas were captured. They were brought back and bred in the United States. This process started the first chinchilla farm. This also started the process of the domestic chinchilla. The interest in chinchilla fur started in the 16th century as international trade. Chinchilla fur is prevalent because it has a soft texture. Because of even color across the board, people like to use it for lining large pieces of clothing or small pieces of clothing. The fur can also be used to create an entire large piece of clothing. So many chinchillas must be destroyed in order to make a coat because their skin is so small. Because of this, one of the species became non-existent and supply for the other became scarce. People still hunt and kill domestic chinchillas to create clothing, but wild chinchillas are no longer targeted for hunting. How To Keep Your Chinchilla's Cage Clean And Safe Before you put your pet chinchilla in their cage, it must be cleaned thoroughly. Once they've made it their home, you should clean it at least once a week. To keep the cage smelling fresh, you can use baby cornstarch powder or baking soda (preferably the Arm & Hammer brand). It should be sprinkled in the areas where they urinate. Usually, your pet won't venture into those areas, but if they do, they may contact a fungus. If your pet's cage has solid flooring, the bedding needs to constantly stay fresh. Keep the flooring area clean and use a disinfectant for the area. Pull-out litter pans that have a wire mesh may be in conflict with solid flooring. If the flooring is wire-based, make sure that you have shelves and mats installed to give your pet relief from standing on the wire mesh. If you're cleaning your pet's cage at in your shower or outside, you must use disinfectant by scrubbing the cage with pet-safe cleaner soaked brush. Make sure you scrub the cage thoroughly and with lots of elbow grease. Only use hot water to rinse; it is easier to use something that sprays it off, like a hose or a shower attachment. Be sure that the cage is completely dry after rinsing. Any damp spots can produce mold or fungus, which would be detrimental to your pet. It is strongly suggested that an opaque sheet is used around your pet's cage. This is to contain the dust and other mess that is in the cage. It is also used as a barrier to chinchilla conflicts, in particular from the opposite gender. The sheet gives them the assurance that their area is safe and secure. It also shields them from some of the light during the daytime. The mesh in the chinchilla's cage should be no more than 1" by 1/2" on the sides and 1/2" by 1/2" on the flooring area. Do not get any mesh that exceeds those measurements; it is dangerous for your pet. If you're not sure about the cage measurements or recommendations, do a search online for assistance. Because they're so active, having ample room to run around is crucial. If you install mesh that is more than what's required, you risk the chance of your chinchilla breaking the leg or foot bones if it gets caught in the mesh. The legs and feet are the most fragile parts of their body. If your pet does experience difficulty with the mesh, they can suffer the loss of their legs and feet. They can also experience stress from being in the state of being caught up in the mesh. If this stress is not relieved and they remained trapped, your pet can succumb from shock related to the stress. Some chinchillas won't even run around in the cage if they sense that there is too much mesh in there. Somehow they have a sense of their surroundings and know when they can move about freely. Not until they know their area is safe will they resume activity in the cage. How to Groom Your Chinchilla Properly Chinchilla dust allows your pet to stay clean. If they were still living in the Andes Mountains, they would have to use volcanic ash to stay clean. Oils and dirt stay in your pet's coat because of the dust. The dust then causes the oil and dirt to be released from your pet. This is the process of how the chinchilla's fur is cleaned. A chinchilla's cleanliness relies on regular dust baths. If they don't have them, they can end up being stressed which can turn into health issues. They can also suffer from behavioral issues as well. When it's warm, give your pet a fresh dust bath every other day for about ten minutes. Their fur will not be matted and greasy. If their fur stays like that, they can get overheated. When it's cold, you should dust bath your pet twice a week. When you're giving them a dust bath, cover the cage with sheets to prevent dust from flying everywhere. You can give your chinchilla a dust bath every day if their skin doesn't get dry. They did it when they were running wild. This may help them especially if their fur is continuously matted and greasy. You may want to consult a veterinarian just to be sure. It's not good to smoke around your pet. The second hand smoke is detrimental to your pet's health as it is a human's health. The tar from the cigarette covers their fur. The chinchilla would be able to taste the smell because they clean their fur with their mouths. The tar is ingested in their bodies. You must give a new chinchilla in your care a wet bath if you find this to be the case for your pet. Another idea for the dust bath is to mix Arm & Hammer Baking Soda to the mix. This helps your pet to smell fresh. If your pet is urine-sprayed, wipe him with a damp cloth and dry them completely with a towel. Then you can administer the dust bath. Usually the chinchilla learns to roll in the dust bath from their parent. If not, that means that the parent was not throughout in their training of the pet. If your pet is sensitive or allergic to dust, you should wipe their nose. The sensitivity can result from inhaling particles. You will know this by the chinchilla clearing their nose. Other symptoms include the eyes watering. You must beware when you see this happening to your pet. It could be a sign of pneumonia or an issue with the respiratory system. If your pet is not using the dust bath, give him a massage everyday. Once your pet starts accepting feeling the cleanliness, he'll use the dust bath on his body. If they still refuse it, it may mean something more serious, like an injury. You will know this if they don't move around like they normally do or if they can't roll without feeling pain. They may also refuse it because of the texture of the dust bath. Some stores carry a heavier texture than others. If that's the case, check with the pet store to see if they have a lighter texture. However you do it, make sure that your pet feels clean and fresh at all times. Your Pet Chinchilla And Environmental Stress Environmental stress can affect your pet chinchilla in different ways. This type of stress results in either health or behavioral issues. Your pet can experience the following: anti-social behavior that includes biting, fighting, spraying urine, fungus, or irritation of the eyes. Your pet can also feel angst toward other chinchillas, biting the fur, gnawing on their cage or even depression. Unless you know in advance, you won't necessarily detect that one of these actions can come from environmental stress. You usually find out when the behavior or illness becomes a chronic issue. If you are not aware of the issues of environmental stress, your pet may be more prone to suffer the after-effects. If your pet is hyper, environmental stress will just compound the way they're already feeling. In order for them to get a grip, behavioral rehabilitation would help them regain their footing. Of course, if your pet is already easy-going, then rehabilitation is not necessary. Environmental stress can affect how the chinchilla was treated, before and now. Environmental stress can affect your animal if they were abused or handled badly. This in turn, can cause them to exhibit anti-social tendencies towards the next owner. If your pet is experiencing boredom, this may eventually suffer from stress. Your pet should be in an environment where there is some movement and noise. On the other hand, enduring constant loud noise can take its toll on them, also. It's better for them to have noise, but it should be at a moderate level. This way, if they do experience noise out of the ordinary, such as people, thunderstorms, etc., they'll know how to handle it. Your pet has to have a happy medium between the two extremes (boredom and chaotic noise). Your pet will have to make adjustments if they came from an environment where there was boredom or chaos. They'll have to make adjustments to the unfamiliar and unknown. Like a human being, your pet will feel strange because all they know at the moment is the environment to which they were accustomed to. It may take your pet at least a week to regroup. You can help by putting them in a quiet room with some soft jazz music. There should be no other pets in the house while your pet is getting acclimated to different surroundings, including the owner. Giving your pet this transition time is crucial and imperative because if they came from a chaotic environment, they will have to learn to relax and if they came from a boredom environment, they must have time to get in the groove to handle noise in a timely manner. If they take on too much too quickly, your pet can get overwhelmed, causing additional stress. You will have to learn to be sensitive to their needs and get a sense of when they might be ready. It's always best to start out small and gradual, then work your way up with your chinchilla. This way, your pet can accept the gradual transition with ease. What To Do When Your Child Wants A Chinchilla For A Pet Let's say your child wants a pet. Ok, you think, "I can deal with a small puppy or a kitten". Hmm......so you think. What if your child told you they wanted a chinchilla for a pet? A chinchilla? Yes, your child says again, a chinchilla. You think, they probably don't know how to spell it, let alone pronounce the word. It looks like you'll have to do some research on chinchillas. First, you'll have taken into account the age of your child. Find out why they would want a chinchilla. Maybe they saw someone else with one and couldn't resist. Children like to compete against each other. Are they old enough to take care of a pet such as this? If so, will they need assistance? If it's an exotic animal like this one, more than likely they will need your assistance. They would probably need your assistance anyway because most children have a short attention span. When they find out the child's explanation for wanting this exotic animal, they have to think about if they really want it in the house or not. Will they be good company for your child? Will the animal and your child have a human to animal relationship? Are they going to be responsible? You'll have to make your child understand that caring for an exotic animal such as a chinchilla is very different than taking care of a puppy. A chinchilla requires more maintenance. Once the decision is made to get the chinchilla, there are other factors to take into consideration. You must recognize and be ready for changes in your home. Their sleeping habits are different. Chinchillas are basically night owls, so if you or your child is not sensitive to noise in the wee hours of the morning, more power to you. Chinchillas are known for making noise early in the morning, before the roosters do their cackling. You will need to set aside a room for the chinchilla. Chinchillas like to roam free, so they need plenty of space. Or you can purchase a cage for them. The cage has to be big enough so they can roam around. You must also provide the animal with wheels and chew toys to play with inside the cage. The wheels are moreso for exercise than playing. They cannot be still and must be able to have a few outlets. They are allowed to get out of the cage each day for at least 30 minutes. /When they're out of the cage, they must have supervision so they won't trip over anything or get their legs caught up in wires, etc. Their legs and feet are very delicate. Then there's the task of keeping them clean. You must use a dust bath to keep their fur fresh and clean. This must be done at least once a week. Keeping them from excessive heat and humidity is another issue. The chinchilla must be kept at a comfortable temperature at all times. Not too hot and not too cold. The moderate temperature must be constant. They can consume dried fruits, such as raisins, but only in moderation. Their body cannot digest fried fruit every day. After finding out all of this and you still want your child to have this exotic pet, by all means, give it a try. An Experienced Vet is Worth the Search Establishing a good working relationship with a veterinarian can be a challenge for any pet owner, but is a special challenge for the exotic pet owner. The exotic pet owner must find a vet who is willing to see their pet, knows something about their pet, and has the facilities, equipment and materials to treat their pet. An interest in exotics doesn't necessarily equal proficiency in treating them. I say this from experience, as although I am fascinated with exotic pets, I have no special training in treating them medically. When I was practicing as a veterinarian, except for very routine care, I generally referred exotics to a specialist nearby. Thing may have changed a bit since I went to school, but during my training, exposure to exotics was still very imited even though I sought out extra exposure to exotic pets in my choice of clinical rotations. If at all possible, try to locate a vet who specializes in exotics and has taken specialized training (e.g. a residency in exotic animal medicine, or one who is board certified in an exotics specialty). Such specialists can be hard to come by, so the next best is someone who has lots of experience treating exotic pets. Ask a potential veterinarian about their training, credentials, and memberships in specialty organizations such as the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) or the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV). At the very least, choose a veterinarian with a real interest in exotic species and who is willing to learn about them and who will consult with a specialist when needed. Personal recommendation or word of mouth is probably the most efficient way of finding a veterinarian. Friends, breeders, or organizations (e.g. the local herpetological society, other clubs) are good starting points. Other places to locate veterinarians include the yellow pages/phone directories (look for clinics that specifically advertise that they treat exotics), the state/provincial veterinary association directory, or even web pages that have veterinary directories (including the AAV and ARAV sites mentioned above). Several species specific web pages have sections where readers can submit contact information for veterinarians they have used. Most importantly, do not wait until an emergency to find a vet. If your pet should get sick, a veterinarian with whom you feel comfortable and who is comfortable dealing with your pet will make the situation less stressful. An initial check up is well advised for any new pet and this is a good chance to see how a veterinarian handles your pet and how comfortable they are with your pet, and also to see if you and the veterinarian make a good match -- sometimes there is a personality clash and you won't develop a good rapport with a certain veterinarian. A veterinarian familiar with exotics will spend a good deal of time discussing the care and husbandry of a particular pet, as many problems with exotic pets are related to improper diet or husbandry. The veterinarian should also appear confident handling your pet. There are several criteria which can be used to evaluate a practice in general and the following web pages discuss these in detail: - How to Find a Veterinarian -- advice from About's Guide to Veterinary Medicine on finding and evaluating a vet, with a link to some online vet finder directories. - How to Find an Avian Veterinarian -- helpful tips for finding a veterinarian- geared toward bird owners but also applicable to any exotic species. For exotics there are more specific considerations, including: - special training or continuing education related to exotic pet medicine - how often exotic species are seen in their practice - special facilities or equipment to handle exotic pets - experience (personal or professional) and familiarity with the husbandry and medicine of a particular species Finding the right vet can be a challenge and may not seem that important when your pet is healthy, but the effort will be well worth it if your pet should fall ill! Should Your Child Take A Pet Chinchilla To School? If your child asks you if they can take a pet chinchilla to school, please show wisdom and tell them no. There are obvious reasons why. Under no circumstances should a child take a pet chinchilla, or any pet for that matter to school (unless it's a seeing-eye dog). They should not be stored as pets at school. The chinchilla and schoolchildren operate on two different schedules. When the chinchilla is up at night, the children are sleep. The chinchilla cannot be surrounded by a lot of noise, and schoolchildren make noise. It's just in their nature. The chinchilla needs relatively no light or as little light as possible in order to get some sleep. They can get stressed if they don't get enough rest due to lights and noise. The stress can lead to them biting their fur, spraying urine and acting unfriendly. Another reason why your child should not bring a pet chinchilla to school is because they need a large case and constant supervision, especially when they're being let out of their cage for exercise. They also require constant attention every day. Bring a pet chinchilla to school will hinder the everyday regimen for them. Temperature is another concern. The chinchilla has to remain comfortable and not too hot. They cannot stand high heat or humidity. If the air conditioner goes out for any reason, the chinchilla would start to get hot and sweaty. If there were an emergency, more than likely, the teacher would be responsible for securing the animal's safety in addition to the students. That would be too much on the teacher because her first priority is the safety and welfare of her students. Your child's classmates probably have an agenda in mind. They probably want to take turns holding the animal. What they don't realize is the chinchillas like to move around and not be held or petted. They are very independent and get irritated if you try to hold them. Chinchillas like to roam free and most times are hyperactive. They must be dealt with gently and not manhandled. Some of the children might see the chinchilla as something to play with, but don't realize how fragile the animal is. The children must also control their temper when they realize that the animal doesn't want to play with them. Then they'll be ready to retaliate against it. If they drop it, whether it is accidental or not, their legs and feet can be fractured. This in turn, can cause amputation in that area and eventually they succumb. There may be students in the classroom who have allergies, and they may be allergic to fur. So if they were to come in contact with the animal, they could suffer itchy skin, watery or itchy eyes, or other allergic reactions. So allergies are definitely something that needs to be taken into consideration. Having a chinchilla would be too much for students to handle. Besides, schools have rules in place forbidding students from bringing pets to school. To prevent a fiasco with students, teachers and most of all parents, it's better if the child does not bring a chinchilla to school. How To Discipline Your Pet Chinchilla When you want to discipline your chinchilla, you have to be mindful of how you do it. Please note that they are not responsive when you verbally berate, hit, or smack them in anger. The physical actions can result in wounds and abscessing. The physical actions don't serve a purpose because your pet already has a sensitive body. Chinchillas are already fearful and chewing them out verbally will do nothing but escalate the situation. The negative verbal actions are not effective at all. Since they are fearful, when their owner treats them as such, they start to feel withdrawn and stressed out. Like a human, they can feel your hostility and anger. In turn, they will become more defensive. You should never blow in their face to punish them. The germs from your air can transmit onto them. They are susceptible to catching a virus, the cold or the flu. When a chinchilla gets hostile, they will spray urine. They are acting out on their need to withdraw. They still feel defensive, and you may not know why. The withdrawals won't start until the root cause of it is revealed. When the owner finds out what the problem is, the pet will feel better and can be safe in their habitat. They will definitely make a change when they sense that you are not trying to put them down (degrade). You will have to spend time giving them lots of love and patience. This scenario is reminiscent of what humans go through in relationships. Women, for the most part, want respect. If their boyfriend or husband can't or won't give it to them, then they won't be happy campers. As long as you show your pet genuine love, concern and compassion, they will respond to you with a more accepting reaction. When you give them a warning, do it in a stern, but loving manner. Don't get in the habit of just saying "no" all the time. Doing this will just take your pet back to square 1. That's not a good idea. On the other hand, there are some chinchillas that have no personality and tend to be harsh, abrasive or moody. These kinds of pets are very vocal. If you have a pet chinchilla that is withdrawn due to owner neglect or abuse, it may be helpful for them to have their behavior rehabbed. This type of rehabilitation can help your chinchilla to change their tune. You have to be very mature to take care of an exotic animal such as a chinchilla. Just remember that you have to be even-tempered, calm and non-threatening. You also have to have patience because changes just don't happen overnight. You'll have to look past it and do your part to help in the change. The chinchilla is scared and they may pretend to be threatening, but they're really not. You must continue to love them, be compassionate, gentle, constantly give them assurance and lots of affection. In time, they will change to the loving pet chinchilla you want them to be. How To Find A Good Pet Sitter For Your Chinchilla When you have an exotic animal such as a chinchilla, because they're in the exotic animal family, they need special care. So if you're going away, you'll need someone to take care of your pet. However, it can't be the same kind of person who can pet sit dogs or cats. They have to be someone who is experienced in taking care of exotic animals such as chinchillas. Where do you find someone who fits that mold? If you don't know anyone offhand, you can start by checking out a professional pet sitting service. See if you can find one that deals with exotic animals. It may take you a little more time than usual because these types of services are not common. You'll want to start your search at least several weeks before you leave; that is, if you know that far in advance that you're leaving. You can check with Pet Sitters International and The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters for more assistance. You would probably have them do a few more additional tasks, like get the daily newspaper and check the mail. You may also have them maintain the lighting by turning them on and off at different intervals of the day. Getting a referral is a great way to get a sitter for your pet. Make sure they know enough about exotic animals before you consider them to take care of yours. In addition to professional pet organizations, ask around to see if anyone knows of people that are experienced in taking care of exotic pets such as chinchillas. If by chance, you happen to know someone that has a chinchilla, see if they're available and willing to watch your pet. Just because they have the same kind of pet doesn't mean they're willing to take on the extra duties. Ask your veterinarian if they know of anyone who can and are available to be a pet sitter while you're gone. Or even try the pet store. Ask the employees if they can recommend someone. Once you do have a candidate available, ask them questions to make sure they are knowledgeable about chinchillas. Make sure they know how to take care of them, what to feed them, etc. When you do find that person that will be able to take care of your pet, the next step is to find out the setup. If you can move your chinchilla and the cage, then you may be able to transport it to a facility or take it to the sitter. There is a downside to this: if you do have to transport, beware that they may come in contact with other animals that have contagious diseases. Also, since chinchillas don't adapt to change well, especially an abrupt change, it may cause them to be stressed. You can also have the pet sitter come to your house if you feel comfortable with that. At least your pet will be in familiar territory. They already know the surroundings, and they would be able to thrive. If you use this option, you must be able to trust the person to stay in your home. When you have found the right person, make sure you provide them with detailed instructions on how to care for your pet. This is very important, because you want them to care for your pet like you care for them, so the chinchilla won't notice a difference in that. You should also leave detailed instructions and information for the pet sitter in the event of an emergency. If your pet needs treatment and you can't get back right away, then you may want to give them permission to get treatment for them. Leave a contact number for your veterinarian as well as a contact number where you can be easily reached. It may take time for this process, but once you find the right person, your mind will be at ease. The Effect Of Exercise For Chinchillas Chinchillas raised on a ranch get treated differently than those that are raised by breeders and pet owners. Breeders and pet owners raised and treat their chinchillas like pets; ranchers treat their chinchillas like livestock. To the ranchers, this is a business and they could care less about the animals getting adequate exercise or any exercise at all. Their main concern is making a profit at the animal's expense. Don't tell that to the breeder or pet owner. In order to sustain their livelihood, they make sure that their pet chinchillas get in enough exercise to get them through each day. Chinchillas should have time to exercise out of their cages every day. They need to have time to be free, provided there is supervision. This would only happen with breeders and pet owners. They know that these exotic animals get stressed when they feel they are being confined. Stress can cause them to be anti-social and withdrawn. They get irritated and start biting their fur. The chinchillas raised on the ranch can't move very well because the ranchers don't take the time for them to exercise. When they do get a chance to roam, it's at a snail's pace because of the confinement. In order for the chinchilla to live a long and healthy life, it is imperative that they get out of their cage and get some type of exercise, even if it's just walking around. The chinchilla will also stay happy. So if you're a breeder or a pet owner, you should do what you need to do to make this happen. A regular exercise regimen will decrease stress and in turn keeps your immune system from harm. When you really care for a chinchilla, they know it. They know when you really love them and have their best interest at heart. They have a positive attitude and they will be able to trust you and relate to you better. This will definitely show when you allow them to have time out of their cage. This eliminates other stress-related actions, such as spraying urine or fighting with other chinchillas. This will help them relate to other chinchillas and get along with them as well. The best exercises for them are walking and getting on the wheel located in their cage. Doing exercises on the wheel can reduce the presence of being overweight and/or obese. There is no such thing as a chinchilla getting too much exercise or eating too much. They know when they've had enough of both. When they're tired, they'll stop and take a break. Exercising on a regular basis can eliminate potential health or behavioral problems, including stress. The key with exercise is that it needs to be regular and consistent. You can help your pet do this by increasing the muscle tone, agility and mobility. You have to remember not to confine them like they're in jail. Otherwise, they'll look dumpy like the ones that are raised on the ranch. That is one way for them not to stick around for the long haul. Chinchillas Staying Healthy With Pellets and Hay The chinchilla's process of consuming food is quite different than other animals. They should have a lot of roughage and fewer nutrients. One of the things that they must have enough of is pellets. Chinchilla pellets can be purchased from a breeder or a pet store. Not all brands contain the same ingredients. When your purchase them, be sure that the basic ingredients are in the mix. This would include alfalfa meal, wheat germ, molasses, oats, soybean oil meal, corn, and added vitamins and minerals. The chinchilla pellets are long because the animals eat with their hands and they must be able to grasp them. The chinchillas consume the pellets until they feel full. When they get to that point, they will stop and refrain from overeating. You can either feed them once or twice a day. You'll want to figure out which feeding regimen is best for them. Stick with whatever works best and be consistent. If you're not, the chinchilla will know and the inconsistency will cause them to be stressed. A chinchilla's livelihood is based on routines. You can feed the pellets to them either from a hopper feeder or a ceramic bowl. The hopper feeder is good to use because you don't have to concern yourself about it falling over. Ceramic bowls are good because they are heavy and the chinchilla can't chew it, like they would a plastic bowl. Chinchilla pellets are one of the best things they can eat; but if for some reason you can't locate them, you can substitute rabbit or guinea pig pellets for them. These are fine to consume as long as they contain plenty of fiber and are low in fat. If for some reason you do have to switch their pellets, do it gradually. Once they get used to a system, it's difficult for them to change suddenly. They will adapt, but they get stressed if it happens all at once. Hay is good for them because it also provides fiber for their system. You can choose from two kinds: alfalfa or timothy. They can be purchased in loose or small compressed blocks with a measurement of 1" X 1" X 2". The animals will eat both kinds and it must be chemical and mold free. Because of their sensitive digestive system, chinchillas can only consume fresh hay. To remain fresh, it must be stored in a dry place. Fifty-pound bags may be too much for a chinchilla owner, so cubes can be purchased in smaller amounts. It's better if the cubes are broken into smaller pieces. This way, they can handle them easier as opposed to being one cumbersome piece. One pressed cube or a handful of hay is all an adult chinchilla usually eats. An alternative to hay would be Bermuda grass. If your house has a lawn with Bermuda grass, you can feed that to your chinchilla. However, the grass must be chemical and fertilizer free. Just wash it off and give your chinchilla a few. Bermuda grass helps to remedy any digestive issues. Water And Supplement Treats For Your Chinchilla Like humans, chinchillas need water. Their water should be fresh and changed daily. This is crucial because if this is not followed, bacteria can grow and it would affect the chinchilla's health. It's not a good idea to have them drink from standing water in a bowl. They'll be sure to catch bacteria that way. Also, they may accidentally tip the bowl over and then you have a wet mess. A preferred vehicle for drinking water would be a water bottle. The bottle should be placed on the side of the animal's cage. If you do use a water bottle, it should be cleaned thoroughly to avoid any germs or bacteria. Clean the entire bottle with hot water and have another one on stand-by. The chinchilla will drink the water more if nothing has been added to it. So, if you want your pet to drink plenty of water, it should stay as it is. Since a pet chinchilla is special to their owner, it's not surprising that they would want to reward their animal with a treat. However, the owner must know that this can only be done in moderation. Too many of these can cause the animal's sensitive digestive system to go out of whack. Not only will they gain weight, their lifespan would be short-lived. If you're going to give your chinchilla treat, give them raisins. This is something that chinchillas love to eat. They should only be given three to four raisins a week. If the chinchilla is a baby or a young one, half a chinchilla will do. Dried fruit, without sulfite preservatives, is fine. Examples of this are a blueberry, a grape or a tiny apple slice. If your chinchilla has diarrhea, you can give them wheat (spoon shredded size) or rolled oats minus the preservatives. Raw, black oil sunflower seeds that are used for feeding birds are good for the animal's outer coat. You should not feed your animal cabbage, corn or lettuce. These would be heavy on the digestive system. When feeding them, the treats should be fed separately from anything else, including pellets. If you mix them, they will not eat the pellets and just go for the treats instead. If you give them something to gnaw on, let it be white pine or apple wood. These wood types are good for their teeth and won't cause damage. Pine boards can also serve as a bottom platform for a chinchilla's feet when they're walking on a wire mesh material in their cage. Any other type of wood may not be suitable for them. Stay away from cedar, plum, plywood, cherry, fir, spruce and any other wood that can be harmful to their teeth. If you're not sure which wood type is good for them and which isn't, check your local pet store. They can assist you with your animal's needs. If you have a young or expectant chinchilla, their diet will have to be altered from the normal regimen. If you're not sure on what to feed them, check with your veterinarian or chinchilla breeder to get more information. As you get acclimated to what your chinchilla needs, they can be assured of an uneventful and healthy lifestyle.
How To Keep Your Chinchilla From Suffering In The Heat Heat and high humidity are not kind to chinchillas. Their bodies cannot survive grueling heat and high temperatures. Their thickness of their fur is higher than other animals. In fact, they have the highest thickness of fur than any land animal worldwide. It is the thickness of their fur that causes them to be resistant towards heat, especially high heat and humidity. If they come in contact with this, they can suffer from brain damage or heat stroke. It is important that your pet chinchilla be kept inside a controlled climate in order to survive. You will need an air conditioning unit if the temperatures reach 70 degrees or above. The air conditioning unit should also have an auto function, where it will turn on and off by itself. Having fans is not enough to cool them. However, a ceiling fan is good for cold air circulation. If your chinchilla takes in too much heat, they can suffer from heat prostration. Heat prostration is when your pet is lying on their side with labored breathing. They feel like they want to give up because this is too much for them to bear. Don't allow your pet to stay in that position. Pick up the chinchilla carefully and gently. Keep your pet mobile and moving. Provide massages and head rubs. In the interim, while you're still trying to keep your pet going, make sure you have the temperature lowered; otherwise, they may not make it after all. Use a cloth and make sure it is not fringed or has any loose strings. Put it in the freezer to cover your frozen items. Then put your pet in there for few minute intervals. Leave the door slightly ajar. Put your pet's feet on the cloth so it won't touch the metal in the freezer. Spray mists of lukewarm or cool water on your pet's body, stopping at the neck. After your pet becomes alert, use a towel to lightly dry their body. Make sure you're in a cool room while you're doing this. Provide a dust bath after they are completely dry. If you keep your chinchilla in the basement, they will need a dehumidifier. They cannot stay anywhere where the humidity is high because it will create a fungus, which is harmful. The pet will also need an instrument like a thermometer that measures the temperature and humidity levels. These levels must be continuously watched to make sure they stay at a comfortable temperature for your pet. During the winter season, the temperature should not be more than 70 degrees. The humidity should not be more than 80 percent where your chinchilla is existing. The sum of the two is not to go past 150. If it does, your pet is in danger for brain damage and death. Other ways you can keep your chinchilla cool are providing them with frozen fruit bars. These are good for them to take small nibbles from. Ice cubes put in a bowl that won't spill are good, also. Your pet should have a consistent supply of fresh water. No matter how you do it, make sure that your pet is properly cared for during the times of heat and humidity. Prevent Your Pet Chinchilla From Experiencing Environmental Stress There are ways you can prevent your pet chinchilla from experiencing environmental stress. You as the owner should make sure all their needs are satisfied. You should also make sure that you are reliable enough to take care of their needs. Your pet depends on you to take care of them physically and emotionally. Make sure the cage is large enough where they can run around and play. Be sure to include a wheel where they can exercise, some toys they can chew on and a hideaway. All of these items can prevent your pet from being bored and stressed out. You should also cover their cage will also help them be less stressed and provide a sense of security. Make sure they get their daily exercise away from their cage. This helps them to be able to roam around and not be holed up 24 hours a day. This by itself can be stressful because they'll feel locked in to one entity, which would be their cage. If you must employ a change with your pet in the way of ownership, living arrangements or meeting other chinchillas, introduce it gradually. Your pet will be more accepting of a slower process than they would of a quick and rash one. A quick and rash one does nothing but contribute to more unnecessary stress. Added stress can contribute to shock. In your pet's case, this happens when they feel they can't consume the magnitude of what's going on around them. The chinchilla feels their situation is out of control and can't be corrected. They're unable to digest the scenario. This type of shock can result in immediate declining health and/or death; sometimes, they may decline slowly and eventually expire. Stress-related shock doesn't happen often, but if your pet has hyper activity, they'll more likely to experience it. It's normal for your pet to be wary of the unknown. Eventually, they'll learn to adjust. Chinchillas are used to routines. They like to stay in the land of familiar surroundings and not rock the boat. They don't particularly care for challenges, especially when it means making a change that affects them directly and swiftly. If they have to, they will change, but they prefer to remain uninterrupted. If they are in an unsafe environment, then it is essential that changes are made. Eventually, your pet will appreciate your efforts to move them into better surroundings. Your pet prefers to be in a setting where they're not threatened by change. However, if they do have to change scenery, the most important thing is that they have time to get adjusted. Depending on how old they are and their health status, some chinchillas adjust faster than others. The biting of fur would occur mostly in an older animal. This may come from having another animal in the house. The older one would feel that their territory was being invaded. Changes that would make your pet feel happy are a new cage, television or a new movie or a new chew toy. More times than not, they would welcome these with open arms. If in the event, any of these items don't satisfy them and cause stress, you'll have to make some adjustments so they can adapt and eliminate the stress. Having The Right Exercise Wheel For Your Chinchilla With a cage for your chinchilla, they should also be some chew toys, a television and a wheel for exercise. This way they'll have plenty of things to do while they're in the cage. In order for the wheel to fit in properly, you should measure the door of the cage. Even though your pet will still get their outside exercise, a cage is strongly recommended for exercise inside. Sometimes, your pet chinchilla may not adapt to the wheel right away. Don't fret--sometimes it may take them a while to get acclimated, especially since it's new to them. Older chinchillas don't adapt to change very well and it may take them longer to get used to it. It may take them weeks, or even months to get acclimated to the device. When they do, they usually like it and take to the wheel well, especially when they realize that it's benefiting them. Anything that benefits them is good, and they try to keep a positive demeanor. Another aspect of having a wheel in your pet's cage is safety. You have to make sure that they are able to exercise on a running surface. The surface should be solid or made from mesh. The measurements should be no more than 1/2" X 1/2". Anything more than that can result in the chinchilla having leg, foot or toe injuries. Their lower extremities are very delicate and can result in amputation if not attended to properly. As with chew toys, the wheels should not be made of plastic. Plastic can harm your pet by causing issues with their intestinal area. The pet can chew and ingest the plastic pieces which can cause this. If you use a wheel with spokes, you are asking for trouble. Not only can your pet chinchilla face injury to their arms or legs, the risk of having their limbs amputated increases. Even your pet can sense when there's danger with these type of wheels. When that happens, they're reluctant to exercise on them. These type of wheels are not recommended to be installed in their cages. If you do use them, you are not looking out for your pet's best interests. Another type of wheel, called a safe wheel, has screws in the inside center. They seem to have more fun on this type of wheel because of the decreased danger. The recommended measurement for a wheel is 12", even though there is some debate about that. Most people seem to do ok with that size wheel. Pet stores normally sell the wheels with the spokes, which as stated in the previous paragraph is dangerous for chinchillas. There have been reports that the wheel may cause your pet's spine to curve, because there's only so much room; of course, that's probably remain to be seen. If you find abnormal issues with your pet after getting on the wheel, you should stop until your find out what's going on. If you are unsure about what type of wheel to purchase, contact your local pet store or consult with your local veterinarian. How To Select The Right Vet For Your Chinchilla When an owner is looking for the right veterinarian for their exotic pet, they want someone who can relate to their pet's special needs. They must also have the available resources to take care of their pet on an ongoing basis. Just because they may like exotic animals doesn't mean that they're qualified to take care of them. They must have special training to medically care and treat them. You will probably have to do a "Sherlock Holmes" number in searching for the right one to treat your chinchilla. It's best to search for a veterinarian that specializes in exotics and exotic animal medicine or one who is board certified in it). You can ask veterinarians what kind of training they've had. You can also check through certain organizations, such as the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV) and the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV). If you still need assistance, try a regular veterinarian with an interest in exotic animals that can consult with an exotic animal specialist. It's better if they're experienced, but if not, this would be the route to go. You can also try finding one through recommendations. You can ask people that you know or search out some breeders. You can also try other organizations that are into exotic animals. Search for forums online that discuss chinchillas and exotic animals. Try the yellow pages, your state veterinary directory or on the web to look for local veterinarians that specialize in exotic animals. You should try to find one as soon as you can. It's not best to wait until your chinchilla has an emergency where you'll need someone right away. Then you'll be taking more time away trying to find someone. It could be a matter of life and death for your pet. When you do find one that specializes in chinchillas and other exotic animals, set up an appointment. Check to see how the veterinarian handles your pet and see if your pet takes to the veterinarian. That's very important in establishing a relationship. If there's not bonding between the two and yourself, then that's probably not a good match and may not result in a quality relationship. A good veterinarian will sit down and talk with you about your chinchilla's care, health and diet. This is also important because they should be comfortable in talking with you as well. Besides, it's your pet and you are the owner. During the visit, you should evaluate the facilities to see if they are up to standards for taking care of exotic animals. Find out how frequent do they have exotic animals for patients. Do they have special equipment or facility to accommodate them? Have they had much experience with exotic pets? What kind of training was involved? If your veterinarian can answer these questions, then you may have yourself a winner. It's not easy to find the right person to fit the bill. Even though looking for one may be a challenge, when you find the right person, it will be worth it for you and your chinchilla. Mistakes To Avoid When Purchasing A Chinchilla The maintenance of exotic pets is different than say, a dog or a cat. With a dog or a cat, you don't have to spend a lot of time caring for them as you would a chinchilla. In addition to spending more time with a chinchilla, you will have to spend more money. This is because a chinchilla is a specialized pet and specialized pets cost more because they require different maintenance than regular animals. Before you run out and get one, please keep in mind some things that you'll need to know or at least consider before you jump in with both feet. The chinchillas may look cute at the pet store and you just have to have one. Before you do that, research information on the pet. Take a few more days before you decide on whether you really want it or not. Sometimes it's one of those, oh you really think you want it deals, but when you get home with it, it's a different story. So doing research can save you and the pet a lot of time and possible heartache. Plan ahead -- This is the most important thing you should do before you even think about checking out a chinchilla. They may look cute, but you need to know in advance how much it's going to cost you to maintain the pet, the time you'll be spending with it, buying them special food, and trips to the veterinarian. All of these things require time and money, and if you have neither, you might as well wait until you can take on this responsibility. Do your research before you decide to purchase an exotic pet. Laws vary from state to state regarding these kinds of animals. You should also look into the local, county and federal laws to see what applies to your situation. You can check with the office in your area that deals with wildlife animals or exotic pets. Avoiding this action can get you in big trouble if you don't have the proper permits or any permits at all. Factor in the cost of having an exotic pet such as a chinchilla. In addition to food and veterinary visits, you must factor in things like their cage, equipment and other supplies. You should also include in this assessment funds for possible emergencies that could come up. Speaking of emergencies, exotic pets sometimes like to feign sickness until it gets unbearable. Don't wait until an unexpected emergency hits to find a specialty veterinarian. Not only will it cost you time, it could mean a matter of life or death. If you have to go out of town or away on emergency, you should have someone available on stand-by to take care of your pet while you're away. Remember, chinchillas need constant care and if they are neglected, they'll suffer. If you're looking to buy a chinchilla, you home has to be chinchilla-proof. It can't stay the way it is. Chinchillas require different settings and you have to adjust them to their specifications. They can reside in moderate temperatures and it can't be hot or humid in the house. You can either set aside a room in your house for them or purchase a cage (your best bet). The sooner you make the changes, the sooner they can adapt to your home. How To Set Up A Home That Your Pet Chinchilla Will Love When chinchillas are out in the wild, their fur is their protector from the elements. When they are captured and turned into pets, adjustments have to be made in order for them to be comfortable and survive. If you plan to keep a pet chinchilla in your house, the animal needs to be somewhere where the area is cool and serene, but eliminating drafts. If you have an available room in your house, make sure there is plenty of room for the animal to roam. Chinchillas are very active and they need to have enough space to move freely. It's better for them to have a large cage, in part because of what was stated earlier. The length should also be tall (long). The floor space needed is about 24 by 24 inches. If you get a tall cage, get one with shelves and ladders for climbing. This is a great way the chinchilla can stay active. Don't get cages that are manufactured with plastic; a wire cage is the best quality cage to purchase. If you want to make it easier for cleaning purposes, find one with a pull out tray. The pull out try can have wood shavings (except cedar). A wire floor is good for them because it keeps their bottoms from getting dirty. In the event you have a wire floor, you should have a wooden piece to cover the bottom wire area. This way, their feet won't wear out from constant activity. Secure the cage in an area of your house where they won't be disturbed by others. It should not be exposed to any sunlight. Sunlight causes the chinchilla to sweat and could lead to overheating. In the summer, the area where the cage is sitting should be watched and if need be, move it to a cooler section of the house. You can turn on the air conditioner for a while, or you can add a pan of ice cubes. You should have glass water bottles for the animal. They are better than plastic because they can't chew through glass. If you do use plastic water bottles, you can get chew guards for them. Get a ceramic food bowl so it won't tip over so much, if at all. The heavier the bowl, the less chance it will tip over and will stay steady in the cage. The best toys for your pet chinchilla are wooden blocks and tree branches. The branches should be pesticide free. Willow balls and rings are good for them to have, also. The toys should be free from small or plastic parts where the animal can accidentally swallow them. They can also use pumice blocks; in addition to using it for playtime, these blocks can maintain their teeth. Wheels may do your pet chinchilla good, provided that they start using them at an early age. A wheel that is 12 -- 15 inches is the best choice and the surface should be solid and made of metal. Having wheels installed in the cage provides them with good exercise. As mentioned, it is only beneficial if they're introduced to it early on. As long as they're closely supervised, your pet chinchilla should get some time outside of the cage. Make sure that you don't have things in the area that can harm or cause some type of danger to them, such as electrical cords. You should be able to coax the animal back to their cage with a raisin or some other dried fruit. Sometimes, they just make their way back to their cage without any help. If possible, refrain from chasing them, as this does nothing but frustrate you and the pet. What You Should Know If You're Allergic to Chinchillas Chinchillas are capable of emitting proteins that cause allergies. This can happen through the presence of saliva or urine. They are also known to shed their fur every few months. The hay and dust that come from chinchillas seem to be the biggest factor in people that have allergies. It is not advisable to have a chinchilla for a pet if you are allergic to hay and dust from them. In general, warm-blooded animals with fur have proteins in their body. When these furry animals wet their fur by licking, saliva sets in. After it dries, parts of the protein flutter about and end up on different material in the home. This is why even though people initially get a pet chinchilla, they have to give it away because the hay and dust proves too much for them to handle. Not only do the owners suffer, but their pets suffer as well. They don't get the hay or dust bath their supposed to get on a regular basis. When they have to return the chinchilla it's called re-homing. Basically the pet is sent back to be reassigned to a new owner and a new home. It can get so bad that as an owner of the pet, being allergic to hay and dust can cause breathing problems. There have been cases where some owners ended up using an inhaler for breathing purposes. The owner can become allergic to the pet itself and end up with rhinitis. Rhinitis is when the mucous membranes of the nose get inflamed with a mucous discharge. You can get contact with allergens just by touching the chinchilla. The transmittal of this (antigens) can cause you to rub your eyes or touch your skin. The interesting thing about this is allergies don't always affect you right away. Depending on your system, it can take weeks months or even years for the exposure to take affect. It's not surprising, even if you've had a pet chinchilla for a while, to eventually develop an allergic reaction to the dust and hay. Especially dust, since it can accumulate from anywhere. However, if you should become allergic to your pet's allergy-causing proteins, you may have to consider re-homing (returning the animal so they can have another owner). There are ways that you can minimize the allergic impact of dust from affecting you. Keep your pet's cage covered with a sheet and in a room where the door can be closed. When applying dust to your pet, don't turn on any fans. The container should be your pet's cage and place the sheet around it. Leave the room for about ten minutes, making sure you close the door on your way out. It should take that much time for the dust to get situated. There are some different brands of bath sands you can use to reduce the dust from flying all over the place. You may want to check it out thoroughly prior to purchase. It's been noted that it can reduce the amount of dust ingestion; it may not be effective in cleaning your pet's fur. It may take more than one pack and this just defeats the purpose of any cost-cutting measures. How To Get Your Chinchilla To Trust You If your chinchilla is not tamed, it may take them a while to get used to you. Just like with human relationships, you will have to earn their trust before they allow you to form a close bond with them. You will have to provide your pet with a lot of love and care. Don't get discouraged if after a few months, they still don't reciprocate. It just means it may take a little longer than you thought. It is much easier to get a baby chinchilla to trust you than it is an adult. Chinchillas have more of a problem with being tamed than say, dogs or cats. They are filled with a lot of smugness and they demand your respect. They don't pay attention to you when you call their name. If you want your pet to really trust you, try doing some of the following: - Provide treats for your pet as they come to whatever side of the cage you're located on. - Talk to them in a calm tone to keep them calm. - You will know when they no longer fear you if they remove the treat from your fingers in the cage. There are other things you can do to get your pet's trust. There are also some things you shouldn't do in order to get their trust: - A Chinchilla's body is delicate and you must handle it with care. If you pick them up, avoid grabbing their ribcage. You could injure it or possibly fracture a bone. - Your pet should be close to your body if you're carrying it. - Like humans, chinchillas need to breathe easily. Don't squeeze or hold your pet tight. They will let you know when you are by squealing loudly or biting you. - Help your pet feel safe by allowing it to bury their head under your arm or cover their face with your hand. Chinchillas like to know that their owners like to keep them safe in any way possible. They want to know they have a protector at all times. - Hold your pet by it's tail base and hold your pet's weight with your other hand. Don't hold on to the tip of its tail. If the chinchilla tries to get free, that part will come off. - You can also hold your pet as though it were standing up. Use one hand for its hind legs, and your other hand to hold his body. Your pet's hands should rest on yours. You will know when your pet trusts you when they start doing these things: * Snuggling up to you * Allowing you to stroke their body * Follows you around * Comes to see what's in your palm * Sniffs your clothing and other items on your body * Allowing you to curl their tail * Sniffs your nose It is an honor to have a pet such as a chinchilla that is fond of you and you have gained their trust. You must remember to continue doing things with your pet to continue that trust. How To Keep Chinchilla Coats Healthy Chinchilla coats have to stay healthy and clean. In order to do that, your pet chinchilla must have dust baths on a regular basis. The dust baths also help to keep their coats silky, shiny and keeps the coats looking thick. Your pet enjoys these types of baths because they get to roll and flip in the dust. As long as they get to move around, they're fine, hence the reason for rolling and flipping in the dust. The best type of bath dust to use should be bought from the store. That is because the product is tailor made for chinchillas. As they roll and flip in the dust, the dust infiltrates through the coat and goes in their skin. This causes the dust to soak up oil and dirt from their fur. The bath dust for your pet should reach several inches deep in a container. Two types of dusts used most often are "Blue Cloud Chinchilla Dust" and "Blue Sparkle Chinchilla Dust". Make sure the bath dust you purchase is specifically tailored for your pet chinchilla. You risk not having the same effect on your pet if your purchase something other than bath dust. Chinchilla bath dust should work similar to what they would have in their homeland. For a container, you can use a heavy bowl that won't tip over. Get one that is larger than your pet. Some good suggestions are glass fish bowls or canisters. Another suggestion is a plastic house type container. This type of container should have a round bottom. You should put the bath in the chinchilla's cage each evening as the chinchillas are moving around. You can't bathe your pet chinchilla too much with the dust bath. This can cause their skin to dry out. The dust should not be left in the cage because the animal will sit in it and utilize it as a litter box. Give your pet a dust bath at least twice a week. It's better to administer it in the evening, when they're the most active. However, if you determined that your pet's fur looks dull or moist, you can give them the bath more than twice a week. Of course, when it gets hot and humid, your pet should get more frequent baths. The baths should last about 10-15 minutes. If you find that your pet's skin is dried out, flaky or itchy, cut back on the frequency of the dust bath. The bath dust can be reused several times before changing. After you've bathed your pet, check for any waste and scoop it out. You should also use fresh bath dust if you find the current dust to look dirty or clumpy. Throw it out and use a fresh batch of dust. You may find it useful to try a covered bath, but the downside is that your pet will still move around and shake off the dust. So a covered bath may actually defeat the purpose. You should get a good duster and continue to provide regular baths. How To Cure Some Health Problems of Your Pet Chinchilla As with humans, prevention is the key for your chinchilla to staying healthy and not getting sick. Even though precautions are taken, sometimes steps are still missed. It is crucial that your pet's cage have fresh food and water daily. Their cage should always be kept clean and their food should not contain fungus or insects. Any violations of these can cause adverse effects for your pet. Keep in mind your chinchilla has a sensitive digestive system. It cannot easily get rid of bad food from their system. This means they could get sick. Please find below some health problems that could affect your pet and what you can do: Constipation: You will know that your pet is constipated if their bowels are dry, small, strangely shaped and have a foul odor. Provide them with more fresh water and hay. Also, you can give them 1 -- 2 raisins. Bloating: Your pet will look like a balloon and their bowels will contain mucous. Their bowels are also holey and sticky. Give your chinchilla a longer time to exercise and give them food culture. Diarrhea: Your pet's bowels will stick and look like a grape. The diarrhea in your pet could be caused by hay that is moldy or algae that has grown in their water. Check the hay for mold and check the water for algae. It is imperative that their water is changed out everyday and that it's fresh. Also check to see if their diarrhea is caused by an environmental change. Seizures and Cramping: If your pet does not move or starts to tremble, this may be a sign of a seizure. This can be caused by stress, injury to the head or lack of calcium. You will know if your pet lacks calcium if their teeth turn white. This can happen moreso with the female chinchilla. Don't allow your pet to injure themselves. They should be kept warm. Since this is a more serious issue, see a veterinarian immediately. In addition to the above, you should see a veterinarian immediately if your pet is experiencing any of the following: Severe diarrhea or constipation, injury of the eye from a sharp object, pneumonia, weight loss, ingesting poison, or broken bones anywhere on their body. Any of these will require additional medical care from a specialized veterinarian. You hope that you don't have to experience any of this with your pet chinchilla. There are things you can do to make sure your pet stays healthy and not fall into any health dangers. Listed below are some of the tips: - Keep their cage cleaned on a regular basis. - Don't change their food too often; they have a sensitive digestive system. - Don't move them around a lot; chinchillas can't withstand changes too well, especially sudden ones. If you do have to move them, try to do it gradually. - Make sure their roughage food is fresh. - Make sure their water is fresh and constantly changed out. - Their food should be administered in small portions. - Since chinchillas are night owls, they should rest during the day. Follow these tips and your chinchilla will live a long and happy life. How To Re-home Your Chinchilla Re-homing your chinchilla is not necessarily a delight to accomplish. However, if you are in a situation where you can no longer properly care for your chinchilla, the best thing to do is to seek out someone who can give it the love and care that they need. It will break your heart to let your pet go, especially if you've become bonded to it. It's also better if you let someone else handle it rather than let it suffer and die. You can start your search by placing classified advertisements in the section designated for exotic animals or chinchillas. Make sure you let them know that there is an adoption fee attached. You should set the fee at a starting price of $50.00. It has been advised that you should set it higher than that. This way, you will weed out the freebie seekers or cheapos. These types of people are usually not interested in taking care of a chinchilla; they just want to purchase it for their own corrupt whims. The purpose of the adoption fees are to see if the candidate can properly and is financially able to take care of an exotic pet such as a chinchilla. Chinchillas need routine care not only from you, but also from a specialized veterinarian. When you're dealing with specialties, that usually costs more than general things. If the interested person has an adverse reaction to the fees, then that's a strike against him. You'll know that they're not interested in the chinchilla's well being. You want to make sure that the person getting your pet is the most qualified. Find out how long this person has been taking care of chinchillas. Did they keep them healthy and active? Ask them what kind of food did they feed them. Let them know what brand of pellets and hay you used, in the event it's different from what they use for their pets. If they already have a chinchilla, will they try to get them together as mates? Find out more information about trying to have more than one chinchilla in the same household. Find out about their veterinarian and how he or she takes care of their chinchilla(s). Does he or she have the best interest of the pet in mind? If the person were to go on vacation or had an emergency, is there someone available who is knowledgeable in taking care of chinchillas? If they can answer your concerns and you feel comfortable with them, then your chinchilla may have a new owner and a new home. Before the prospect signs on the dotted line, take your chinchilla over there to see if they will adapt to their new environment. The place should be clean and free from a lot of noise. Chinchillas aren't comfortable with excessive noise in their domain and it's easy for them to get infections. See how your pet interacts with them. If they do well and pass the test, then you probably have a winner. If your pet clams up and doesn't get comfortable, then you may have to continue looking.
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