CRITICAL POINTS OF CHINPARENTHOOD, "BEFORE YOU BUY!"
Also see: article by eRodent and ChinCare's adoption contract/ qualification assessment (.doc) and care sheet (.doc)
Chinchillas can be the ideal companion. Normally gentle and friendly creatures, they only bite or
spray urine in cases of abuse or when put under extreme duress. Even the most vocal chins don't
make noise often, their shedding is very minimal, their fecal droppings are small, hard and odorless
(and continually deposited!), and their urine won't smell as long as their cage is kept clean. Basic
requirements include: a LARGE cage, a chin-proofed play area, and unlimited access (only ration
treats) to the dietary staples of fresh, high quality pellets, hay, and distilled or filtered water.
There ARE potential drawbacks to having a chin as a pet, however, so don't make the initial
investment unless you have acknowledged the following and are certain you can commit to
providing all the attention, time, energy and expense needed for an entire chinchilla lifetime:
Chinchillas themselves are NOT "HYPOALLERGENIC" nor is the hay they eat every day and the ample dust they bathe in regularly. They are not recommended for young children or as classroom pets for several reasons that directly relate to the chin's well-being and the children's expectations.
Although they appear cute and cuddly, chinchillas in general are not sedentary lap pets who will sit still and welcome lots of holding and cuddling. They are usually sociable and enjoy interacting with people, but they like to be on the move: exploring, energetic, playful. While some pets will accept being dominated and controlled by their owner, chins really do not. They prefer to have things on their terms: they have a keenly intelligent, curious and independent nature with a mind and will of their own and are best related to as companions rather than treated as mere pets. Some chins need to be socialized and can require a lot of time and patience before they're able to bond with their chinparent. It takes someone with maturity and intelligence, emotional as well as psychological, to truly appreciate them.
Chinchillas must be kept indoors in a climate-controlled environment. AIR CONDITIONING IS MANDATORY, not optional, for chins in climates where the temperature can reach 70F. Heat plus high humidity (above 60%) can easily kill chinchillas, because they have the highest fur density of any land animal in the world.
Chinchillas think and behave a lot like small children, and their active, highly intelligent minds can easily become stressed or bored (a catalyst for various health and behavioral problems) if they are forced to sit, caged, for hours on end without sufficient environmental stimulation, exercise or interaction. Providing this, especially for a single chin who relies entirely on the chinparent for companionship, can be very TIME CONSUMING because out-of-cage activity requires constant supervision: chinchillas are rodents and they will gnaw, gouge or shred anything not sufficiently "chin-proofed." A LARGE cage to accomodate running and playing, a variety of chew toys, at least one hideaway per chin and a cage wheel will help decrease stress and boredom inside the cage while TV during waking hours will provide environmental stimulation when the chin isn't actively engaged in out-of-cage exercise and interaction.
Chinchillas are VERY LONG-LIVED! The average chinchilla life expectancy in captivity is 10-15 years, but with good genetics and good lifetime care they can live 20+ years. For that entire long term commitment they'll need knowledgeable, devoted care, regardless of whether their chinparent experiences a change in lifestyle or preferences: busier schedule, new hobby/ interest, going off to college, joining the military, relocating, starting a family, etc.
Pet stores often mis-sex chinchillas!! It's not unheard of for someone to buy a female that's already pregnant because the pet store grouped the animals by color/ price range instead of by gender. It's also not unusual for someone to buy a "same-sex" chin as company for the one they got from a pet store and end up with a litter because the pet store employee mistook the female chinchilla's urethral cone for a male chinchilla's penis. Before you buy, learn how to identify gender to prevent overpopulation and unwanted pets!
Most of the problems that chinparents eventually encounter have to do with a lack of accurate knowledge or familiarity in these areas: The Essentials, Environmental Stress Factors, conducting safe Introductions and Safety. Products marketed "for" chins may in fact harm or even kill them, for example: cedar bedding, wheels with spokes, plastic cage parts or accessories and cages with unsafe mesh width.
Chinchillas are regarded as an exotic animal. The "startup cost" for a new chinparent (see Zillah Chinchilla's basic list) is substantial and VET CARE FOR EXOTICS IS EXPENSIVE! For example, malocclusion, a relatively common and potentially lethal dental condition that chinchillas can suffer from, may be treatable if detected early by a yearly check-up head x-ray. The vet visit, with examination and x-ray, can easily cost over a hundred U.S. dollars.
When selecting a chin, health and temperament should be the foremost consideration, not strictly appearances. The colorful "mutations" (every color but the original gray is the result of recessive gene breeding and/ or inbreeding. Some colors are more established and stable than others) can be less hardy, not as long-lived and more erratically temperamented than the standard gray. Most importantly, every chin deserves "a good home"!
MAGAZINES, DIRECTORIES AND
Chinchilla Club Community Reference Library
Chinchilla Club Magazine Retail
Chinchillas Unlimited Reference Library
Chinformative Forum Reference Library
ECO Magazine Membership required
Small Pet Club Online pet directory
UK Pets.co.uk UK news, resources, etc.
CA Chins Vet Reference Books/ Caitlin's Chinchillas CentralPets/ Cheeky Chinchilla Club/ TRO
Etc-Etc.com/ Chinchilla Lexikon/ Chinchilla Library
BOOK SEARCH AND PRICE COMPARISON
addall/ blackwellpublishing/ booksprice.com/
directtextbook/ fetchbook/ GoogleBook/ usedbooksearch
Blue Moon Chinchillas/ Cheeky Chinchillas/
Chinchillaburg/ Dunja's House of Chinchillas/
Kritter Cards/ WWF (not chinchilla-specific)Videos, Games, Children's Page, Chin Wars and
more under "Extras"/ Chin Jump/ Jigsaw/ Haikus
Chin Dance/ Animated Photo Cube/ Retha's Puzzles
Coloring Book/ Self-Test for Chinchilla Addiction
Cartoon Gallery/ Merry's Memory Test/ Silly Images
Emily's Chinese Ink Art, Chinchilla Paintings
Puzzle and Crossword, Dusty Flips!/ Rodent Movies
Chinimations/ Chintoons by Herike Rehme
Mottos, Chin Lovers/ Animal Totems: The Chinchilla
Chin Movies, Videos/ Chinchilla Collectibles Museum
and The White Pages of Chinchilla Pictures
STAMPS: etc-etc, Chinchilla-Lexicon
LIVE WEBCAMS: Chinchilla/ Chinchilla-Lexikon
Drew's/ Lone Star/ sleepychinchillaSOFTWARE
Chinchilla World's Pedigree Maker Freebie
Evans' Chinchilla Register
SITE HOSTING Freebie
CentralPets.com/ Chinchilla Club
ChinNet/ My Pets Pages
IMAGES Free, may require link back
Chinchilla City Icons/ Chinimations
Chinnie Potter/ Emma's Free Images
Paw-Talk Pocket Palz/ The Chinchillaburg
SPONSOR A CHINCHILLA IN THE ZOO
America's Teaching Zoo, Moorpark College, CA
Baltimore Zoo in MD/ Brandywine Zoo in DE
Catoctin Zoo in MD/ Lee Richardson Zoo in KS
Pueblo Zoo in CO/ San Francisco Zoo
ONLINE COMMUNITY: FORUMS, CHAT, GROUPS, WEB JOURNALS, MEETUP, ETC. ......
We recommend these international forums: Chinwags, ChinsRus, Chinchillas Unlimited, and Chinformative Forum. Not only are they fur-free, their atmosphere and level of expertise are exceptional!
Be advised that there are some forums that act more as personality cults for their leadership, where bullying and misinformation are rife, and those forums are not on our list. Unlisted status does not necessarily make a forum one of those to avoid.
The following quote is from Chinwags. In our opinion this prudent and responsible approach should be adopted by all forums:
"Our first port of call if worried should always be the vets. We should try to remember the difference between our own experiences (which in themselves can vary in different situations) and information we have picked up along the way.
"Where possible would you please make clear where any details you mention came from, have you been through this or have you read it somewhere? If from a website/message board please provide a link where possible (or link and quote), so that other members may make a better judgement for themselves as to the validity of the details. We ask that you do not try to impose your views on others, just let's be here to share, comfort and help where we can."
International Chinchilla Meetup
Anti-Abuse Forum: catler.org
Rescue Forums: Farplace Forum, UK/ Pet Rescue, UK/ PetsAlive, USA/ Rodent Rescue
Web Journals and Blogs: Chinchilling, Chinchilla Life! Chinchilla Love, Chinlog, Chinchillas = Happiness Live Journal, Chinchilla Place, Interview with the Chinchilla
All Creatures Forum
Blue Moon's Chat
Chinchilla Chat Line
Chinchilla Club Forum
Chinchilla Club NZ
chinchilla_lovers email group
CHINformation Organization Forum
Lone Star Chinchilla Forum
Nick's Animal Place
Ontario Chinchilla Association
Pets.Com.sg: Singapore Forum
Small Animal Channel
Small Pet Club
YAHOO - CHIN GROUPS