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 Choosing A Chin

Sabrina (Ebony--All Shiny Black)

Sabrina (grown up)

Choosing a Chinchilla:

Our preference is to buy a chinchilla directly from a reputable breeder rather than at a pet store. A good breeder will know the chinchillaís history, personality and can answer your questions. Often, you are able to see the parents and siblings of the chinchilla you have selected. In smaller herds (between 50 and 90 chinchillas), breeders are often able to handle the babies daily from birth. These chinchillas will tend to be more socialized and may be easier to tame. Do not select a chinchilla with watery/weeping eyes, a runny nose or lack-luster fur. This is usually a sign of illness.

When choosing your chinchilla, observe his/her overall appearance and behavior in his/her cage. Be sure the eyes are clear and alert, the coat has a good consistency and the chinchilla appears inquisitive and active. Watch the chinchilla for a few minutes. Does s/he seem playful, passive or aggressive toward its cagemates? Is s/he sleeping soundly? Does s/he come over to the cage door to investigate the presence of a new person? Does s/he run into the corner and emit a warning cry? All of these actions are clues to the chinchillaís personality.

How does the chinchilla respond to the breederís hand in the cage? Chinchillas that have had repeated interaction with the breeder will often run over to his/her hand to see if there is a tasty morsel within. Many of our chinchillas will hop on our arm and begin coming out to greet us. Before they get too far we put our other hand around them and pull them to our chest for a hug and scratch. Sometimes a chinchilla will groom our hand. This can be a light nibbling or it can be a bit rougher, depending upon the chinchilla (they groom each other much the same way). If the chinchilla bites the breederís hand without provocation, it might be well to pass on that particular chinchilla.

Stand back and watch the breederís interaction with the chinchilla and how it responds to him/her as she tries to take it out of the cage. Often chinchillas are frightened of strangers and may be more timid than usual and, therefore, harder to get out of the cage. If the breeder has to continually chase the chinchilla around the cage and when caught the chinchilla constantly wriggles to get away, it is safe to assume that this chinchilla will take a while to tame and establish a relationship with you.

Noel (Standard - Ebony Carrier)

It is important to hold the chinchilla you have selected. Wash your hands first to lessen bacteria and food smells. Be sure to hold the chinchilla firmly and donít let his/her legs dangle; they donít like that. Chinchillas like to feel secure in your hands. We suggest putting one hand under the legs/hind end with the other hand grasping the body. They will usually struggle to escape, but a firm hold usually calms the animal. Do not stick your fingers in front of the chinchillaís mouth as chinchillas can bite when they are frightened or angry. As you hold your chinchilla, talk to him/her so s/he learns your voice. Feel how the chinchilla is responding. Is s/he calm, shaking, relaxed, hyper, biting, or furiously trying to escape? Be sure not to hold your chinchilla too tight as their ribs are fragile and can break easily.

Many chinchilla breeders advertise that their babies are hand-held from birth to insure they are tame and well socialized. Some small breeders actually do hand-raise their own babies while others buy 2-3 month-old chinchillas from large ranchs and pass them off as their own hand-held babies. This type of misrepresentation by a breeder can spell disappointment for the new chinchilla owner. It is good to learn about various breeders in your area before you buy your chinchilla. You can often ask breeders within the same area for referrals or opinions. See if they recommend the breeder from whom you are considering purchasing a chinchilla, and see if your prospective breeder would recommend them.

The internet is a great tool for gathering information. Just because a breeder has a website with pretty pictures, doesnít mean that breeder will be totally honest in his/her dealings with you. Sometimes those pictures are of chinchillas the breeder once had or from other breeders and may not be representative of the breeders current chinchillas. Honest breeders know the breeders that misrepresent and will try to steer you away from them. Some breeders, however, do not have a good word for any other breeder but themselves or the ranch they buy from. Be very cautious with this type of breeder.

Adult vs. Baby: People often think of buying their pet as a baby, but buying a chinchilla as an adult can be a truly rewarding experience as well. With an adult, the personality is established and there are no unknowns. With a baby, you are still not sure how sweet s/he will be as s/he matures. Many of our sweetest, most loving chinchillas have been purchased as adults.

Stormy (Pink White TOV) and Chessie (Dark Tan)

Jazz and Nibbles (beige violet and a standard)

Single Chinchilla vs a pair.

Chinchillas tend to do well in pairs. A single chinchilla can get lonely and often enjoys a friend to snuggle alongside. If you do not want to breed chinchillas, we usually recommend putting two females together. If two females are introduced at a young age, they can usually get along well for life. The same may apply to two older females depending on the personalities. Or you can introduce an older female and a baby female as the mothering instinct often takes over. Unless two males are littermates, we do not usually recommend keeping two males together. If you put two older males together, they tend to be more aggressive toward each other and this can prove fatal.

When considering pairing two chinchillas, it is advisable to begin an introduction period (sometimes a few days to a few weeks) by placing each chinchilla in a separate cage side by side. They become familiar with each otherís smell and may be more accepting of each other later. When you are ready to put the two chinchillas together, be sure to put them together in a neutral cage (not having been used by either chinchilla previously or else well cleaned and sanitized). Chinchillas can become very territorial and reject or injure a new cage occupant. When putting chinchillas together, watch them closely and donít leave the room. They will first explore the cage and then each other. If aggressive fighting occurs, separate the pair immediately. Put them back in their own cages and try re-introducing them again in another week or so. If the same fighting continues on the next introduction, you might want to try them together in a very tiny cage where there is little room for movement. You might also want to take them on a car ride as they often bond under stress. But, bear in mind, it is possible that they will not get along and you will not be able to pair them. However, they might co-exist very happily next to each other in separate cages.

If you choose a male and female, please consider this carefully. Female chinchillas can become pregnant as young as 5-1/2 months old. Male chinchillas can begin impregnating females when as young as 4 months. A female chinchilla SHOULD NOT BREED UNTIL SHE HAS REACHED MATURITY AT ONE YEAR OLD. Too often people buy a male and female chinchilla as babies and keep them together. Then the female may begin producing babies at 8 to 9 months old. More often, these babies are small and a poorer quality chinchilla because the mother was not mature. Sometimes the mother (because she is so young) cannot deliver the kit (s) and dies a painful death. It is always best if you are planning to breed, to breed the best, healthiest chinchillas you can.

Chinchilla do have babies and will multiply. A female chinchilla can have up to 3 litters per year. There can be 1 or 4 kits per litter. If you are not prepared to care for the babies or do not have good homes lined up for them, please do not buy a breeding pair. A chinchilla female can breed again with a male right after she has littered if they are not separated. This is not good for the female. Over the years, many pet chinchilla owners have contacted us about sickly babies or asked us to take in their unwanted baby chinchillas. We always try to counsel them about chinchillas and breeding, but it is very sad. Many times the babies die because of insufficient care or they end up in pet stores or animal shelters where staffers do not know how to care for them properly.