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Chinchillas and Air Conditioners

korrianderkorriander Registered User regular
edited April 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
My roommates and I have chinchillas, and need to keep them cold this summer. Chins aren't supposed to be more than 70 or so degrees or they can overheat and die. Our apartment has a very inadequate air conditioner in the far end of a bedroom, about as far as it is possible from where their cage needs to be. As we discovered last summer, the air conditioner will barely cool the house five degrees, if that, and it gets over a hundred degrees where we live.

One solution would be to move the chins into the bedroom with the air conditioner, as happened last summer. The A/C couldn't quite keep one room cool, so we had to move our computers out of the room for the summer and only use the bedroom when it was cooler at night. Also, seeing as they are nocturnal and rather talkative, I couldn't sleep all summer.

Second idea was to outright buy a second air conditioner, but we can't really afford it and our landlord would likely pitch a fit if we messed with any of the other windows (we're on the third floor).

The best idea we have is to talk to our landlord and ask for a new air conditioner, one that will work well enough to keep more than one room cool. However, while our dishwasher technically runs, it doesn't actually clean dishes. We have had to use it as a drying rack for hand washed dishes since we moved in. Also, they had to replace the hot water heater a couple months back. I don't know how likely the landlord is to give us all these new appliances we want in such a short amount of time.

Is there any other way to cheaply keep our chinchillas cool? How much is reasonable to ask from our landlord?

TL;DR Need ways to keep chinchillas cold this summer. Also need new A/C and dishwasher, after having just received new hot water heater, don't know it its asking too much of our landlord.

korriander on

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    TrillianTrillian Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    You can get granite chinchillers at a pet store. They're cool rock caves for chins that keep them from overheating in warmer weather. They'd probably do the trick if your a/c is running and keeping the air vaguely cooler than outside, but not in blazing hot temperatures.

    I have the same problem with my Rhacodactylus spp. gecko collection as they tend to overheat during the winter when the heat is blasting. I put in some slate tile for them to cool off on and they made use of it, and lived.

    Trillian on

    They cast a shadow like a sundial in the morning light. It was half past 10.
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I had no idea they were such fragile animals... Huh.

    As to the functioning stuff in your apartment: it depends on where you live and what your rental agreement is. For instance, if you lived in the District of Columbia your landlord would need to immediately replace your AC, because there's a law here about maintaining certain temperatures in rental units. If the AC and dishwasher were provided as part of the unit, you have a reasonable expectation that they will be maintained and functional, with any necessary repairs or replacements done in a reasonable amount of time. The trick is that your landlord can't fix your dishwasher if he doesn't know it's broken. You should quickly, politely and professionally notify him about any problems you're having as a tenant and request that maintenance be performed.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
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    dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    It is actually 84 degrees. Not 70. Though they are more comfortable at 70. I have had chinchillas for around 6 years now.

    Get granite tiles and put them in the refrigerator every night.

    They do not sweat so aiming a fan at them will do no good.

    Keep a shelf open in the fridge just in case. During the summer our AC unit went down and we had to load them in a carrier and put them in the fridge... they loved it. Make sure you put a piece of tape on the light switch and something in the door to keep it cracked.

    If your air conditioning unit (central air?) cannot keep your house cool it is probably low on gas. This will cause increased electricity bills and is the responsibility of management to rectify.

    You can also get stand-up "area" air conditioners that simply have a large flexible tube that go to a window for ventillation. They can keep a space very cold if needed.

    What we did at one point was clean our walk-in closet out and set up a portable swamp-cooler, filling the water bin with re-freeze ice-packets (like you put in a lunch box) and cold water every morning and aim it into the closet.

    You can go to the pet store and buy a large fish bowl and fill it with ice every day and put the tiles I mentioned above under it and against the corner wall of the cage so you end out with a little 3 sided box of all tile with the fish bowl full of ice. It will help cool the tile quickly and they may all huddle around it.


    Get some thermal window covering, it can help lower the room temp 10-15 degrees and makes cooling it way more efficient.

    some things to keep in mind:


    Chinchila fur can mold, it is extremely dense so you want to go with the option that results in the least humidity/direct water.

    Chinchillas can not sweat so direct cold is your best bet.

    Having people in a room (especially with computers) does raise the temperature a fair amount. I would suggest you do whatever you can to limit their exposure to shared walls (with other apartments) and heavy-traffic areas.

    Quite honestly I think the fridge worked best for us during the really hot spells. They are noctournal anyway so with adequate venting if you turn your fridge up to near max and leave the door cracked a tiny bit for air it's probably the cheapest route. As it is we can expect to spend 300+ a month in the summer to keep our apartment cold enough for them.

    I've thought about making a free-standing AC window unit that I can simply move to their room. This may be your best bet if you have a friend who can work with wood/iron and make a frame. Though you'd have to find a good 115-120v window unit and come up with a way to deal with run-off water.


    Just a heads up if you didn't know about general chinchilla stuff:

    Watch their calcium intake carefully. Raisins are very bad for them. They are prone to bladder stones, and chinchilla surgery can be expensive (we spent 2200$ getting our little guy healthy again). NEVER get them wet, fungus and mold thrive in their fur.


    edit: And they are not fragile animals. Especially if you have a standard grey. The other colors tend to be smaller and less hearty, though.

    edit2: The granite (or marble) tiles need to go into the cage on shelves and stuff... don't just leave them in the fridge/freezer (dur I forgot to write that part)

    dispatch.o on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    You actually put the chinchillas in a ventilated fridge? Are they really able to easily handle temperatures that cold?

    Edit: A fan would help slightly, because the chinchillas will still be increasing the temperature of their cage. Keeping the air moving will alleviate that.

    Edit edit: A quick google turned this up: http://www.azure-chinchillas.co.uk/index.php?tab=content&id=30

    The site recommends some pretty good alternatives to expensive granite tiles. One simple looking one is just jam jars filled with water and frozen. You could rotate them through the cage occasionally, providing something cool for them to hang out near.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
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    dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    You actually put the chinchillas in a ventilated fridge? Are they really able to easily handle temperatures that cold?

    Edit: A fan would help slightly, because the chinchillas will still be increasing the temperature of their cage. Keeping the air moving will alleviate that.

    Edit edit: A quick google turned this up: http://www.azure-chinchillas.co.uk/index.php?tab=content&id=30

    The site recommends some pretty good alternatives to expensive granite tiles. One simple looking one is just jam jars filled with water and frozen. You could rotate them through the cage occasionally, providing something cool for them to hang out near.

    Yes, they are easily able to hand the temperature of a fridge. NOT freezer mind you. Chinchillas are native (well, were) to incredibly cold dry climates. a 38 - 40 degree fridge (slightly more when cracked) worked just fine.

    Granite tiles aren't all that expensive. You can actually go to a tile-store and ask for the brokens and pay a dollar or less per.

    We actually went to a pawn shop and bought a couple huge ugle ashtrays. You can find them in marble/granite pretty easily and they work fine too.

    I'm also not advocating putting them in the fridge every day. In an emergency it works well. We had a heatwave in oakland, california that went over 100 degrees for a week and we had no central air.

    dispatch.o on
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