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 on: Yesterday at 07:49:21 PM 
Started by jamesholland - Last post by GrayRodent
Congrats on your new pet. I have had a rescue chin before and my experience was successful. Although he never tamed down as much as my new chin (from a breeder) he was a very meaningful pet and a joy to interact with.

My advice to new chin owners is usually to wait at least 5 days, but as much as two weeks, before letting them out. Make sure the chinchilla wants to come to you first and allow it time to become accustomed to its new surroundings. If you come on too fast and too strong you may interfere with the bonding process and end up with an aggressive pet that is hand shy. With chinchillas it is a cooperative effort and it takes time to learn how to read your pet and for your pet to learn how to trust you and what to expect. Most chins do not like to be handled and require a lot of work to tame them. There are few exceptions but it will depend on your particular pet as no two animals are exactly alike. I have experience with a rescue chin like yours, where the owner did not do much with it, and it was about a month before I could handle him safely.

Chinchillas are typically jumpy and nervous animals, a lot like pet birds, but the longer you have them and work with them, the more tame they become. It takes patience and consistency. Chinchillas have very good memories and it can work to your advantage and disadvantage.

Popcorning is a behavior when chinchillas get into a crazy and energetic mood. You'll know it when you see it. Usually it is during their dust bath times and they'll kind of twist in the air as they jump straight up.

Treats should be kept to a minimum. No more than the equivalent of two raisins a day should be given to a full-grown chin. I recommend that new chins be given no treats until at a least a week after relocation. Afterwards treats should only be used as training aids as they have no good nutritional value for chinchillas and can be very harmful if misused. Relocated chinchillas seem to have a week or two where they go through a lot of stress, do not act normally, and their digestion is not quite normal either. I know you have big plans but don't try to do everything at once and it will work out much better for you.

As far as a vet visit that depends. If his diet has not been right, if he has not had constant access to loose hay, or constant access to chew toys in the long run there is a good chance his teeth could be messed up and may exhibit symptoms later. Tooth problems are not always curable and the diagnosis requires anesthesia so a tooth exam should only be done if symptoms warrant it.  If your chinchilla appears otherwise healthy, is eating his hay and pellets, and does not appear underweight you are fine. His eyes and nose should be clear of mucous buildup or drainage. His front teeth should look yellow and straight and they should be flat and straight where they meet. (If you wish to have a look get someone to help you and make it very brief to minimize stress). His coat should be fully intact and not matted. Stools should not stain or be mushy. If he does not fit that description you may want to consider an exam. Otherwise it is not worth the stress and cost IMO.

For all pet owners I recommend weighing your chinchilla once a week and keeping a log. A downwards trend can indicate significant health problems and may be your only indicator of certain illnesses. Keep a mental note of food and water intake each day and determine what is normal and abnormal. Chinchillas will hide illness well and by the time they have symptoms it can be too late to save them.

 on: Yesterday at 06:04:10 PM 
Started by jaimieshaw - Last post by jaimieshaw
I posted one in the gallery under the file name "Gizmo's first day home"

 on: Yesterday at 05:05:23 PM 
Started by iheartchins - Last post by iheartchins
Yeah, I think I'll definitely bleach this week and probably order the pans and fleece. I think the vinegar maybe caused some of the rusting where the paint was thin, so I'll try and sand.

I thought the chinchilla deaths a while ago were odd too. I'm really wondering what it was. I'm pretty sure there wasn't any smoke or fabreeze in the room then either. Maybe it was molded food?

 on: Yesterday at 04:57:11 PM 
Started by jamesholland - Last post by jamesholland
Hi folks  :) new to this forum

I recently have rehomed what I am calling a rescue chinchilla, basically his last owners didn't give a hoot about him, didn't let him out, barely allowed him dust baths and just didn't give him the love and attention that he deserved. Now that we've got him I'm a bit concerned whether I'll ever have a bond with the little guy!

At first he was grunting a lot as soon as I came anywhere near him but that has stopped, I've started letting him out a lot (his cage is rather small compared to the other one we have, just trouble getting it transported over as it is rather big). But he's still quite jumpy. He doesn't seem to be popcorning (I think that's the right phrase) a lot.

My question is what can I do to make the little guy happy? I've got a flying saucer wheel on the way and will hopefully be able to get him a lot of treats and the proper food he needs tomorrow. Also should I take him to the vet to give him a once over to make sure he's ok?

Many thanks!

 on: Yesterday at 02:09:45 PM 
Started by iheartchins - Last post by kageri
When bleach dries it just leaves behind a harmless salt.  While you do still want to wipe things off to remove the residue it is not going to cause problems.  There should be no bleach smell once it's dry.

Personally I do use vinegar.  There are some things it doesn't kill as well as bleach when you are dealing with contagions so a bleach scrub after an illness is a good idea but otherwise studies have found it kills as many germs as bleach.  Just not all the same ones.  Vinegar evaporates to leave nothing but water behind and with the water being pure there is not even hard water deposits left so there is no need to rinse it off.  It also dissolves the alkaline urine stains and can be used without removing the cage from a room full of chins.  The problem with vinegar though is that it will eat metal.  Powder coating is safe but many galvanized pans or any place the coating has chipped on the bars will be stripped of it's galvanizing and rusted sooner.

 on: Yesterday at 11:10:02 AM 
Started by iheartchins - Last post by GrayRodent
CDC guidelines call for a 1:10 (1 part household bleach to 10 parts water)
Be sure to hose the cage down with water after you bleach it to prevent any residue from the soapy part of it.

I know others have had good success with fleece. Occasionally you'll get a chinchilla that makes a habit of chewing it and if that happens you may need to remove the fleece to prevent ingestion.

The way your chinchillas died is very mysterious. There is one other thing I can think of that could cause that and that is acute exposure to smoke or toxic fumes such as overheated teflon or household cleaners. Febreeze is a well known candidate for that. Whatever it was I hope your new chins will get along better.

 on: July 27, 2014, 08:47:05 PM 
Started by iheartchins - Last post by iheartchins
Alright, I may reclean the cage this week with the bleach. How many parts to water?

I noticed no symptoms in the first chin that passed. She was jumping around normally and I heard a thud (but wasn't alarmed because they make noise when they jump) and looked over and she was laying on her side paralyzed. The other chin seemed sluggish before she passed but didn't die on her side. I think she may have been jerking a but too- seizure like, but I'm not for sure. These 2 chinchillas never really did get along. I got them at different times from a pet store.

I think I'll try sanding the cage down only first and see it that takes care of it. If not, paint will have to do.

I think I'm also replacing the plastic shelves that are all chewed up from the previous chins. I would get metal, but I'm thinking I'll get plastic and put fleece liners on the pans and shelves.

 on: July 27, 2014, 07:40:43 PM 
Started by iheartchins - Last post by GrayRodent
I use bleach myself. Never had a problem. If you don't know what caused the death I highly recommend it. The bleach is not toxic when it is completely dry. The active chemical is chlorine which evaporates quickly. Vinegar is not a good disinfectant so I recommend finding a suitable alternative. There may be other more effective pet safe commercial cleaners available that you may feel safer with. It is your judgement call.

If it was mold contamination it would show up if you added bad food to both your pet's dishes at the same time or within days of each other. If present mold can produce very potent toxins. Usually other symptoms would show up unless it's a really heavy dose including drooling, depression, and loose stools.

You may be surprised at how chinchillas can communicate with each other through the bars and how interdependent they can be. With that being said I am still highly concerned about the timing. It is still very unusual.

Sanding down the rust will work but the rust may come back and get worse. Painting will extend the life of your cage.

You don't have to change out the food in the bowls daily. Just make sure they have a constant supply of pellets. Mold problems usually occur when storing food in large quantities in damp climates. It is an unusual problem but not unheard of. Moldy hay is more common but it is usually molded where it is bailed before distribution to stores. It is usually very noticeable with a musty odor and dark discoloring on the hay. Again, usually, symptoms occur prior to death.

 on: July 27, 2014, 06:31:52 PM 
Started by iheartchins - Last post by iheartchins
Thanks for your help (: If the previous chins died of mold contamination in their food, was it just a coincidence they died at the same time? They weren't bonded very well since they lived in different levels of the cage.

 I used the vinegar because I've read several places that the least bit of bleach left or scent can make a chin really sick or die. I was scared that a little bleach would've been left and hurt them, and I've read on a lot of websites to use vinegar, but if needed I could probably reclean it :p Also, the cage (that I cleaned) hasn't been used for almost a year if that helps at all.

Few more questions: Should I change the chinchillas' food out daily if they haven't eaten it all?
Would just sanding down or covering the rust be okay instead of painting it?

 on: July 27, 2014, 06:10:41 PM 
Started by iheartchins - Last post by GrayRodent
I'm very sorry to hear of your loss.  ::cry222::: It is not uncommon for chinchillas to die one after the other even if the problem is not contagious when they are closely bonded.

It is safer to treat it like it is contagious though and think through possible causes. When multiple animals die it is usually pneumonia, mold contamination, or overheating but if they were both old (around 10 years) natural causes cannot be ruled out.

A big one to consider is mold contamination of the pellets or hay. Always smell hay before you buy it. I have a lot of problems here in Georgia. Chinchillas' diet should be restricted to hay and pellets as many things can be poisonous to them. Most chinchilla owners give treats but the kind of treats they can have is extremely limited. Environmental temperature should never exceed 75F, although 73F is a safer upper limit. Pneumonia, unfortunately, is sometimes spontaneous, but I think it is most often caused when a chinchilla looses weight for other reasons (especially upper respiratory infection), and then becomes more vulnerable to it. Almost always pneumonia is fatal in chins.

For future reference I recommend to all pet owners to weigh your chinchillas once a week and keep logs. A steep decrease of 15-20% of healthy weight indicates illness and requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. The trend itself can also be helpful in diagnosis. Always keep track of daily food and water consumption and fecal output. It's harder to do with two in a cage but not impossible. With my chin I measure his water with a ruler fastened to the bottle but you don't have to go to that extreme. I caught a clog in the watering system and an abnormal reaction to antibiotics using this method so it is very effective.

I recommend using bleach because vinegar is just not a very strong disinfectant. It leaves no harmful residue and kills pretty much everything. The downside is that bleach fumes are highly toxic until the solution dries and should not be used around chins, birds, or any small animals in the same room. The plastic pans should be bleached as well. Clean them last to avoid cross-contamination. If the plastic shows signs of being chewed replace them with metal pans if possible. Plastic that is ingested can also kill chinchillas in various ways. Let everything dry in direct sunlight if possible as sunlight also helps disinfect but don't let any birds or squirrels get onto the cage.

The cage can be painted with spray paint marketed as non-toxic after it dries, designed for metal applications. This is common practice with chinchilla breeders. You'll want to clean the rust with a cleaner such as CLR first. Make sure it is rinsed well afterwards an thoroughly dry before painting. Your cage should be as good as new.

Be sure to install wooden shelves in the cage as well. They are important for your chinchillas' well being.

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