CHINCHILLAS
Twinkle and PerceyHello, chin lovers, wherever you are!
Daughter, TwinkleSo, you are thinking about getting a chinchilla.

 
WARNING!! Although these furry, nocturnal creatures are cute and cuddly their favourite pastime is gnawing everything and anything in sight. So, if they are to be given liberty to run around please be aware of this fact.
LIFE SPAN - A chinchilla's life span is between 18-22 years.
ADVANTAGES
As they sleep all day, they are just waking up when everyone's coming home and therefore can be ideal for someone who works all day, wants a pet, and doesn't want to feel guilty for leaving it all day. Fun to watch. Cannot be housetrained but relatively clean with hardly any odour.
DISADVANTAGES
Their gnawing habits. The fact that they really need to sleep, undisturbed, during the day which may disappoint children.
CARE

Chinchillas should be given as large a cage as possible to live in, even if they will be let out in the evenings for a romp around. Good example of a Chinchilla Cage Click here, and then on Fluff the Chinchilla to see it. They will require items in the cage to gnaw on (apple tree branches, unprinted cardboard, etc.) to while away the hours. When I first got my chins, their home was a standard two shelf, completely wire-mesh affair. The first thing I did was to extend it upwards. However, I still was not happy, especially as sand flew everywhere each night even though I put a sheet around the bottom of the cage. I ended up covering a double wardrobe. They now have lots of tunnels (old carpet tubes), shelves, half a tree and sawdust on the floor. The doors stop the sand flying everywhere too!
Their cages only need a thorough clean twice a year
However, their cages should be tidied out at least once a week. All their shelves should be wiped down with hot water. The sand in their sand bath should be refreshed (I sieve mine each day and top it up). All food dishes should be washed. Any soiled floor covering in the cage should be removed and replaced.
As they come from a dry climate, a sand bath is the only way they can really clean their fur. Do not use any old sand as pet shops do now sell sand especially suitable for Chinchillas. Because they originate from a dry climate, and as their fur is so thick, they must never be kept in damp or humid conditions. Should their fur get wet (one of mine jumped into the bucket of water I was using to clean their cage) dry them as quickly as possible.
COMPANION
The main disadvantage in getting your pet a companion is that it will not rely on your attention as much as you may want it to. However, you cannot spend 24 hours a day with your pet and there are times when it will get lonely and depressed. The advantages in getting your pet a companion is in watching the interaction between them and seeing them behaving naturally.
The rule for chinchillas is:-
  • Two females
  • One female and one neutered male.

  • It is worth noting that neutering a chinchilla does carry risks. I had my male chinchilla neutered and he was fine. I had to reintroduce him to his wife by rubbing some of her urine onto his fur to get rid of all the alien smells she was trying to attack. Beforehand he was a father twice; one girl and then twin girls, and they all live together happily.
VACCINATIONS
Fortunately, there are no known vaccinations required for Chinchillas. They are not even know for having trouble with fleas as their coats are too thick to make a nice home.
FEEDING
They are very easy to feed as most pet shops sell a Chinchilla Mix. Do not give it a mix for any other pet as it may upset their digestive system. Some schools of Chinchilla Care are against giving them any fresh food but mine enjoy broccoli, apple and cabbage (in small quantities). Last, but not least, fresh water should be supplied every day, ideally in a water bottle.
AILMENTS
Fortunately, chinchillas are quite hardy and, if properly kept and fed will rarely get sick. Prevention is better than cure so if your chinchilla gets total peace during the way when it sleeps, doesn't have sudden changes in its feeding habits, has any soiled hay, etc., removed from the floor of its cage daily, has fresh water each day and plenty of gnawing materials to wear down its incisors, it should not get sick.
DIARRHOEA
Your chin may get diarrhoea as a result of eating damp or mouldy hay, algae in the water, too much green food, house plants, toxins such as detergents, or sudden changes in diet. Their droppings are soft and stick to their shelves and leave a greenish or brownish film. Feed it on dry food only until condition improves. If it doesn't improve within 2 days, consult your vet.
CONSTIPATION
Your chin may get constipation as a result of too many treats, improper diet (feeding it rabbit or other animal mix), or lack of exercise. Their droppings become progressively smaller and the chin is listless and has no appetite. Stop all treats. Give the chin some raisins or one pinch of Carlsbad salts (Magnesium Sulphate) (available from chemists) per 1/4 litre of water, and let it have a good run around. If it doesn't improve within 2 days, consult your vet.
CONVULSIONS
Convulsions could be a result of a calcium or vitamin B deficiency; stress, often in pregnant chins. Their muscles tremor, they contort and are temporarily unable to move. See a vet.
SKIN FUNGI
Skin fungi can be prevented by adding a tablespoon of medicated powder (for athlete's foot) to their sand bath. If you do notice holes in the fur; crusts, scales, scabs and scurf on the nose and around the eyes, this can soon spread over the head and other parts of the body within a few days, so contact your vet.
EYE INFLAMMATION
If your chin has a milky, watery eye discharge which is making the area around the eye wet and sticky or discharge looks like sugarcoating and\or it has swollen shut, contact your vet who will prescribe a antibiotic salve. Withdraw it's sand bath for a week to help the eye heal. Eye infections are usually a result of grains of sand or other foreign bodies entering the eye and can result in conjunctivitis.
COLDS
Symptoms are a watery or purulent nasal discharge and heavy breathing. Take the chin to a vet making sure it is kept warm and free from drafts. To avoid colds don't put their cage near to a draft or in a damp environment.
TEETH ABNORMALITIES
If you notice your chin struggling to eat its food, drooling or salivating whilst eating, it most probably has a tooth abnormality and you will need to consult a vet who will trim and clip the teeth. Give it plenty of gnawing materials (branches from beech, willow, pine, fruit trees (not elderberry).
INFECTIOUS DISEASES
If your chin has no appetite, diarrhoea, lost weight and seems tired it could be suffering from an infectious disease. As chins rarely get diseases if well cared for, it is wise to take the chin to the vet immediately.
LINKS