IS A CHINCHILLA THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU?
Bringing Home Your New PetBringing a chinchilla into a new environment can be a very stressful time for them. Young chinchillas tend to be in the highest risk group of death caused by stress. One in four do not survive to the age of six months. We recommend the following tips to give your chinchilla the best start at success in his/her new home.First 24 hoursHave your cage set up prior to bringing your chinchilla home. If you haven’t done so keep your chinchilla in a quiet and dark place such as a closet or covered carrier until the cage is ready.Immediately allow your chinchilla an opportunity to explore his new cage when you bring him home. Keep in mind your chinchilla will probably be very timid and just look for a place to hide. It’s important to have a box or hut available in his cage to allow him to decompress.Keep noise at a minimum and talk softly around your new pet. Keep other pets away from the cage. If your chinchilla starts frantically bouncing off the cage walls and shows signs of heavy breathing cover the cage with a blanket and leave the cage alone and covered overnight.Make sure your chinchilla is eating and drinking. This can be done by watching for excrement in the cage and by marking the water level on the bottle. If the droppings are extremely small or non-existent your new pet is not eating and intervention is needed. Offer a few raisins or goji berries in the first 24 hours. The purpose of this is two-fold. One, to encourage your pet to drink water and avoid dehydration and two, to gain trust and promote bonding.First WeeksLimit handling your chinchilla for the first few days, allow him to settle into his cage and acclimate to the new sights, sounds and smells of his new home.Offer your chinchilla your hand to smell and a treat before reaching into the cage. Chinchillas love to nibble, if your chinchilla nibbles on you it is probably out of curiosity and not an intentional bite, treats help direct the curiosity to something other than your skin. Nibbles of curiosity generally do not break skin. True bites are rare and usually a response of extreme fear while being grabbed aggressively. If your chinchilla squeals when you pick him up he is communicating to you that he is very frightened it does not necessarily mean that you are hurting him. Chinchillas can take a long time to acclimate to a new environment. Often times it takes a month or so to see the true character of your pet. Be patient and gentle, this will help establish trust between you and your pet.Other ChinchillasIntroductions to other chinchillas should always be done in a neutral place as chinchillas can become territorial in their cages especially if they’ve been housed alone for some time. Closely monitor new cage mates the first few weeks as fights can be sudden and deadly.Young chinchillas (under 6 months of age) are usually easiest to pair as they haven’t developed dominant behavior patterns yet. Same sex pairings can work quite well as long as males cannot smell female chinchillas nearby. The scent of a female in heat can lead to fighting between two males who otherwise get along well.HandlingNever grab your chinchilla around the waist. Chinchillas have delicate rib cages that are easily crushed. Squeezing the animal around the middle also causes them to squirm even more as they try to escape the pressure of the grip. Chinchillas have a prehensile tail. The best way to hold your chinchilla is to support all four of their feet while holding on to the base of their tail to avoid them jumping out of your arms. This helps your chinchilla to feel secure. Never grab the lower half of the tail as it can break off or cause a de-gloving injury.Most importantly we hope you enjoy your new pet. Chinchillas can be quite engaging and offer a lot of love and entertainment value to their owners.