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Chinchilla

Agent99Agent99 Registered User regular
edited August 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
My birthday party was last weekend and I was surprised with a chinchilla. I’d really like her to not be so afraid of people and was wondering if someone had any tips. I’ve been doing reading and it says it takes time and to let her come to you. I’ve been chilling out by her cage and she’ll come over and see what I’m doing. I’ll stick my hand up to her to see if she’ll let me pet her. She’ll sniff me and has been biting on my finger, it doesn’t hurt but I’m not quite sure what that means and would rather that not be a habit…Does that mean that she is unhappy or is she just checking things out?

She’s been here for three days and seems to be doing fine as eating/drinking is concerned. Although, I have the Carefresh bedding and she’s nibbling on that. It’s not toxic but still concerned about it.
Eventually I would like to train her and would like some tips on that as well. Thanks :)

Agent99 on

Posts

  • th3thirdmanth3thirdman Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    That sounds like the tipical Chinchilla to me.

    th3thirdman on
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I once was bitten by a Chinchilla at a pet store and it wasn't in the least but pleasant. Expect it to hurt at some point.

    Esh on
  • BloodySlothBloodySloth Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Chinchillas are rodents and will nibble your fingers to see what's going on with them. It's not really a behavior you can stop permanently as far as I know, just make sure you interrupt them before they decide to just chomp down. Rodent bites hurt.

    As for socializing the chinchilla, you're doing the right thing. Just make handling and being around the chinchilla a fairly normal activity and they'll get really personable (don't force the struggling animal into your arms or anything obviously). One thing you might want to do if you can spare the scratch is get a second chinchilla. They're social animals and I think they really do best with another one hanging around. It's not totally necessary though.

    BloodySloth on
  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    You'll never stop her chewing on the bedding either. Rodents chew on stuff. If something can fit in their mouth, it will go in their mouth before long (and if it can't fit they'll probably try anyway). If Carefresh is the stuff I'm thinking, it's just recycled paper, there's nothing to worry about.

    If she actually sits down and starts eating it in earnest maybe, I don't know chinchillas, but most animals in general weird eating habits are a sign there's something missing from their diet. Chewing on it, moving it around, playing with it, getting food in it or it in food, that's all just being a rodent.

    Hevach on
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Ugh, well I'm glad you enjoyed the gift but chinchillas are a shit ton of work, as in epic amounts. They're not really a "pet" in the normal sense.

    They will eat anything.

    This includes the molding and cords and carpet.

    I had 4 for a long time, I'll post more when I get home from work. Basically though, they will always be afraid, or at least timid around people. They socialize in their own way and can be quite a bit of fun though.

    Ours always nibbled bedding too, I think they just like it for some reason.

    dispatch.o on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Wow, a Chinchilla is an awful surprise pet. They live longer than dogs or cats, by a considerable margin.

    Like all animals they have their own temperaments, I've known some never adapt to being handled (Although most will allow you to stroke them under the chin or behind the ears regardless) and others that will bound out of their cages into your arms.

    Just feed him raisins and stroke him a bit. Let me bite your hand and walk on it. You may have to put up with a lot of initial fur shedding and squeaking, but in most cases they'll quite quickly work out that you aren't trying to eat them.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Do you have some sort of "Chinchilla Care Book"? Get one.

    Also, never get it wet. Ever.

    Esh on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    This website seems to have some good info: http://www.chinchillaplanet.com/

    Also, see if you even have a vet in the area who will treat chinchillas.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • DisrupterDisrupter Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Esh wrote: »
    Do you have some sort of "Chinchilla Care Book"? Get one.

    Also, never get it wet. Ever.

    Can you feed it after midnight?

    Disrupter on
    616610-1.png
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Disrupter wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    Do you have some sort of "Chinchilla Care Book"? Get one.

    Also, never get it wet. Ever.

    Can you feed it after midnight?

    And they hate bright lights.

    Esh on
  • Agent99Agent99 Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it. It's been a lot of work and I've never really owned a pet besides a fish. My boyfriend has had all kinds of animals and has been extremely helpful with it.

    I didn't really mind getting it as a gift, it's been a running joke that my friend would get me one at some point, I just really never thought it would actually happen. I'm in love with my chinchilla, I just want to make sure I am doing things correctly to make it happy. Although, it's been pretty sad that the chinchilla does not want to be picked up yet. :(

    I'd like to let her run around in a small space that chinchilla safe, however, she's pretty fast so when it's time to go back in the cage I don't want to just grab her and freak her out. Should I be waiting to let her out until she's more comfortable?

    Agent99 on
  • NeurotikaNeurotika Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Just put the cage down in the area with the door open, she'll climb back in, no fuss.

    Neurotika on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Chinchilla wrangling is just something you'll have to learn. They tend to like to climb into entirely inaccessible and potentially lethal areas (like the inner workings of reclining chairs), so making an area "Chinchilla safe" is very, very hard work.

    With time she may well hop out into more exposed areas, but yes, you'll need to pick her up to put her back, and she may freak out( tail going like a helicopter, loud squeaking, etc.), but it's just part of getting used to being handled.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • ArrathArrath Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    For a chinchilla safe area, keep in mind they can do some wicked walljumps, so something like a 3 foot high baby gate won't be enough.

    As mentioned, they do love to chew. I believe its also part of their oral hygiene, keeps their teeth in good shape (they constantly grow, I think) so make sure it has stuff around it can munch on, plain, unpainted, unstained wood toys like for rabbits work well.

    Arrath on
  • BloodySlothBloodySloth Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I would say for letting the animal run about, try setting up one of those unfoldable wire pet fences you can get (just make sure to watch it so it doesn't make a cunning escape) or get a chinchilla-sized hamster ball for it, or both. If you just let a small, fast, paranoid mountain rodent loose in your house without restriction or supervision, of course it's going to hole up somewhere you're not going to be able to reach.

    As a side note I definitely second Esh's advice. Water is bad news, and definitely get a care book.

    BloodySloth on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    My Chinchilla hates his ball. He just sits still inside it looking pissed off. A damn shame, as it would be a perfect solution to having to construct hermetically sealed enclosures for his running about needs.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • mullymully Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Chinchillas are moody and do things on their own terms. My ex had one who, much like the above poster, would not run in a ball - and instead was allowed to run around the house. If you sat on the couch with your legs out, he would run straight up your legs and chest, to stare you in the eye, and then take off only seconds later. He was a pain in the ass to catch, as well.

    I am tripling/quadrupling the "hide wires" bit. Also, make sure you always close the cage correctly - I have had rodents get out of their cage and hide in strange areas until death.

    mully on
  • MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    They clean themselves with dust or sand, right?

    MuddBudd on
    There's no plan, there's no race to be run
    The harder the rain, honey, the sweeter the sun.
  • BloodySlothBloodySloth Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    They clean themselves with dust or sand, right?

    Yeah, and they need regular access to the right dust or they'll get greasy and really unhappy. If you bathed one in water it would likely die, because their fur just doesn't dry off very well and they can catch pneumonia real easy, I hear.

    BloodySloth on
  • MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    They clean themselves with dust or sand, right?

    Yeah, and they need regular access to the right dust or they'll get greasy and really unhappy. If you bathed one in water it would likely die, because their fur just doesn't dry off very well and they can catch pneumonia real easy, I hear.

    Do normal pet stores carry it? How often does it need to be changed?

    I recall seeing a video where a guy kept it in a fishbowl with a wide opening, because it kept the dust from getting all over the place when the chinchilla washed.

    I have always been curious about this.

    MuddBudd on
    There's no plan, there's no race to be run
    The harder the rain, honey, the sweeter the sun.
  • GungHoGungHo Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Yes. It's called "Chinchilla dust", "dust bath", or "bath powder".

    GungHo on
  • BloodySlothBloodySloth Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    They clean themselves with dust or sand, right?

    Yeah, and they need regular access to the right dust or they'll get greasy and really unhappy. If you bathed one in water it would likely die, because their fur just doesn't dry off very well and they can catch pneumonia real easy, I hear.

    Do normal pet stores carry it? How often does it need to be changed?

    I recall seeing a video where a guy kept it in a fishbowl with a wide opening, because it kept the dust from getting all over the place when the chinchilla washed.

    I have always been curious about this.

    Every pet store I've been to that has a rodent section carries the stuff. They also sell little plastic houses meant for holding the dust that can clip onto the side of the chinchilla's cage, so it doesn't fall over or whatever as they roll around in it (which is one of the cutest things ever, as a side note). I would assume a round fishbowl would work just as well, though, as long as the animal can get in and out. I've even just used a normal bowl or a plate but it's nice to have something that's just for chinchilla dust.

    As for changing the dust, I typically just refill their little house/bath as it runs low from being kicked out or whatever, but I'm sure there are other owners who replace the stuff semi-regularly.

    edit: Here's a photo of the little houses I mentioned. Like i said, any enclosed container that's easy to get in and out of would probably work just as well.
    509560.jpg

    BloodySloth on
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Back from work.


    Okay, advice for chinchillas.

    Find a good EXOTIC vet. Not one who does rabbits and cats. Chinchillas have a myriad of health concerns that require special attention.

    Get a checkup, including dental X-RAY and find out if your Chin is healthy, this is expensive, but imagine if your molars started growing into the roof of your mouth. It's a good idea to get this done so they can trim the teeth if needed, as once a bite is maligned it will only get worse.

    Do not feed them raisins. I know, I know, Chins love raisins. They also get fat if you let them, and raisins aren't healthy for them in any way. There are other treats, you can buy horse-cookies, they're hard and help them chew and they love them. They also last longer. This is a once a week type of treat though. For treats during the week you can buy papaya tablets which also contain things your chin actually needs, not just sugar.

    To socialize a chinchilla, take it into your bathroom in a carrier, put down the toilet seat lid and sit on the floor. Now open the cage and turn off the lights, just sit there for an hour or so, then turn the light on and herd your chin back into the carrier, easiest done if the carrier has a "nest" inside they feel safe in so they naturally want to go back to it.

    If your chin gets wet, blow dryer, immediately. They don't dry naturally and will develop a fungus or infection. This will be traumatic as all hell and is best avoided, your chin will hate you for a long time and you'll have to start all over socializing. Don't get it wet.

    I'll think of more and edit it in later.

    dispatch.o on
  • MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    This whole wetness thing is odd. What do they do in the wild when it rains?

    MuddBudd on
    There's no plan, there's no race to be run
    The harder the rain, honey, the sweeter the sun.
  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    This whole wetness thing is odd. What do they do in the wild when it rains?

    Pretty sure they're native to a very dry environment where it doesn't rain often. And when it does rain it's typically light and they can dry after it stops because they only get a little wet by hiding in burrows.

    The advice not to get a chinchilla wet is less "don't let a drop of water so much as touch the fur" and more "Don't give it a swimming lesson".

    see317 on
  • OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    Wow, a Chinchilla is an awful surprise pet. They live longer than dogs or cats, by a considerable margin.

    Wow; how long do they live? I think indoor cats are 15-20, on average, with outliers going out to 30+. Do chinchillas regularly get to 30?

    Orogogus on
  • chromdomchromdom Who? Where?Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Also:
    Pics and name or it didn't happen.

    chromdom on
  • flowerhoneyflowerhoney Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Wikipedia says they live in burrows or rock crevices, I bet they just avoid the rain (cant some animals sense storms?) or maybe its just a terrible terrible design flaw and wild chinchillas are constantly dying from horrible fungi...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinchilla

    flowerhoney on
  • Agent99Agent99 Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    39928_1438241752214_1118100185_31249431_6478100_n.jpg

    Her name is Bianca :)
    Sorry for the bad picture quality, my camera was dead when I got her and this had to be taken with a cell phone >.>

    Agent99 on
  • billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    My mother had two chinchillas when I was a child, so I've had a little experience with them.

    1) Watching them take a "bath" in the chinchilla dust is ridiculously cute.

    2) Their personalities seem to vary quite a bit. The two we had were named Mama and Papa. Mama hated being touched, bit whenever you got close, etc. Papa, on the other hand, would bound out of the cage into your hands and would fall asleep while you held him. They were both awesome though.

    3) Watching them play with each other is also really cute. On that note, I really do recommend that you get a second chinchilla. They are very social animals.

    billwill on
    I hate you and you hate me.
  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Wikipedia says they live in burrows or rock crevices, I bet they just avoid the rain (cant some animals sense storms?) or maybe its just a terrible terrible design flaw and wild chinchillas are constantly dying from horrible fungi...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinchilla

    Well, from the article, their natural home range is the dry Andes. It's a cool climate, but still a desert. Some desert species do suffer pretty badly when it does rain. I guess you could call it a design flaw, but it's one they don't have to deal with that often in the wild, but can be a serious issue in a wet temperate climate like most of the lower 48.

    Hevach on
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    The variety of Chinchilla we have as pets today are extinct in the wild. They're cool pets. If I got one again I'd have to own a home and fix up a floor and room with tile. Their urine leaves obvious stains on carpet.

    dispatch.o on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    The variety of Chinchilla we have as pets today are extinct in the wild.

    Whoever would have thought that being ridiculously cute would turn out to be a viable evolutionary strategy?

    CelestialBadger on
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    http://www.chinworld.com/ should have everything you need for your chinchilla.

    I had a cage from Martins Cages, they're great because the chinchilla is a crazy climber and being able to run up and down different tiers is important.

    I'm going to just link a list of items that I would consider must haves.

    http://www.chinworld.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=CW030010&Category_Code=CW03 This is a disc, your chin will run on it and be happy. Do not just buy some hamster wheel, chinchillas have a huge stride and can really cover some ground, their territory in the wild was several miles square. A standard wheel can actually hurt a chinchilla because of the way they run.

    http://www.chinworld.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=CW120001&Category_Code=CW12 Cages, I would at least get the second smallest, the disc will take up a lot of room and you need to drop in some toys and stuff, they're very active creatures and love old cardboard tubes and things.

    With the cage, I really advocate against having just a bunch of metallic shelves or wire shelves. Go to a hardware store and buy some marble edging tiles and line the shelves, or at least the most popular shelf as well as inside a small "chinhut" house so they have something cool to lay on.

    http://www.chinworld.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=CW01 Food, no you can't feed them rabbit pellets, they have way too much fat and calcium. Chinchillas will get stones and lots of liver problems with a high fat or sugar diet, which is why raisins aren't a good idea.

    http://www.chinworld.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=CW14 Treats. Ours loved the papaya treats, applewood logs and rose hips. Rose hips are great because they're healthy and you can dole em out like candy. The horse cookies are a once in a while treat, we'd give 2 papaya treats to each chin every night.

    For a water bottle and food bin, just go to a local pet store and get one that's made of glass or ceramic for both. The food bowl needs to be heavy enough to not tip over. They will eat anything plastic so avoid having anything touching the cage they could chew on. They will reach through the bars just to mess your shit up.

    General/Important advice.

    Temperature: You will need to keep the room a chin is in below around 84 degrees. Anything above this will be fatal. If it's anything above 74 or so, expect your chinchilla to be miserable and hate you.

    Wood: List of safe wood. Do not fuck around with this, apple branches are the hardest to chew if they're dry, and the tastiest for them to strip the bark off of if they're a little fresh. We'd find people at work and friends who had apple trees and ask for their trimmings, leave the big sticks outside to dry out for a couple weeks, as well as about 3/4ths of the rest of the stock. We'd keep some inside but well vented as treats, they love stripping off the bark, but when it's soft it doesn't do much for teeth. Strip all the leaves off either way, use big branches to make a jungle jim in the cage for 'em. They REQUIRE constant hard safe wood to chew on, and I do mean CONSTANT. They have teeth like a beaver, always growing. You will hurt your chinchilla if you do not always supply something to chew on.

    Hay:

    You can order hay, but personally I liked going to a feed store and picking it out. Timothy should be most of the hay they eat, and you don't want big ass sticks and twigs in there, or for it to be all old and gross, so I picked it out by hand. It's also way cheaper this way. They need constant fresh hay.

    You can give them Alfalfa hay sometimes, but it really is more of a treat sort of hay.

    I'll think of more I'm sure. Best of luck, if you have any questions I'm keeping an eye on this thread.

    edit:

    If you have one chinchilla and do not get another, the one you have will be very social. If this is okay with you, prepare to spend a lot of time with it. I mean a lot. They're herd animals and extremely social creatures. If you get another, expect them to want to be with each other all the time, and maybe not pay as much attention to you. If you don't have an hour or so a night to spend with your chinchilla, I am going to have to suggest you find it another home. When I say spend with, I don't mean just in the room watching it in the cage.

    dispatch.o on
  • BiopticBioptic Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    The variety of Chinchilla we have as pets today are extinct in the wild.

    Whoever would have thought that being ridiculously cute would turn out to be a viable evolutionary strategy?

    Sadly, the cuteness is at least partly down to the quality of their fur. It wasn't exactly a coincidence that they went extinct.

    Bioptic on
  • OrcaOrca Also known as Espressosaurus WrexRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Something else I haven't seen mentioned is to watch your house temperature. Chinchillas are used to colder climates and can't take off their incredibly thick coats. If you live somewhere where it gets hot, eg above 80 degrees (and definitely by the time it hits 90), you need to be using air conditioning. I'm afraid that when I was a kid, we lost two out of three chichillas due to heatstroke one hot summer, so this is something that's a matter of life and death for these cold-adapted rodents.

    edit: apparently I missed that two-liner in dispatch.o's epic post. Read what he says!

    Orca on
  • MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    The variety of Chinchilla we have as pets today are extinct in the wild.

    Whoever would have thought that being ridiculously cute would turn out to be a viable evolutionary strategy?

    http://www.darklegacycomics.com/251.html

    MuddBudd on
    There's no plan, there's no race to be run
    The harder the rain, honey, the sweeter the sun.
  • OrcaOrca Also known as Espressosaurus WrexRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    The variety of Chinchilla we have as pets today are extinct in the wild.

    Whoever would have thought that being ridiculously cute would turn out to be a viable evolutionary strategy?

    You should read or watch The Botony of Desire.

    Orca on
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