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Author Topic: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!  (Read 768 times)

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WhiffenPoof

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Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« on: August 08, 2016, 03:52:51 PM »

Hi there!

I just wanted to formally introduce myself, my name is Ivory and I am a first time owner of a chinchilla (-:

He is a 4yo. grey male with a rough history.

I am a registered foster for quite a few animal services here in Texas and he came from a household seize a couple weeks ago in a town neighboring mine. Of 12 chinchillas, only 2 were found alive - him being one.

Apparently, he was seized 2 years ago from the same family when a family friend reported them for animal abuse. He was returned to the same home, but in the custody of the parents (he was technically taken from the 18yo. son so he was found at fault instead of the parentals).

Anyway, I have him now and couldn't be happier with him. Besides extreme hair matting and some social anxiety, he is particularly wonderful. Not a biter, just a tad frightened. He has quickly became friends with my pup and is actually best friends with an older cat that was seized the same night. I own him as well, I felt it best to keep them together.

They had been evidently locked in a room together on the property that neither of them had been let out of in 6 months (it was 6 months worth of feces, grime, old food, etc.)

Anyway, I was hoping to meet a few of you and of course, I am open to any tricks of the trade to help this little guy blossom!


« Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 03:54:59 PM by WhiffenPoof »
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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2016, 06:27:41 PM »

Have the mats been removed? If not you will want to do so asap. Mats trap moisture and oils against the skin which can lead to skin infections. The best method is to just firmly grasp the mat and tug it out. He may not be thrilled about it but fur slipping is painless.

On another note, chins should not have contact with other pets no matter how good of friends they are. Dogs and cats can carry diseases and parasites that are deadly to chins. One wrong step and your dog/cat accidentally kills your chin. So please be aware of the dangers
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GrayRodent

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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2016, 07:12:25 AM »

Can you tell us a little more its cage, cage accessories, bedding and diet including treats? We would be glad to give you an assessment on those things.
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WhiffenPoof

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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2016, 03:42:05 PM »

Yes, I removed the mats already (-: He looks much better now! And I have also been sure to give the dust baths as well, I am confident those were extremely overdue.

And yes, I am glad you mentioned the "dog cat" thing. I have been educated about that in the past and have been cautious of the risks involved there. The chinnie does not have direct contact with the pup - they merely enjoy each others surrounding company most days. With the cat however ... they bonded quite strongly while being locked away in that room.

The first few nights I had the chinnie he was fairly anxious and upset, I figured it was due to the obvious stress in his life with the abuse/neglect, then me sweeping him up to a new home. But, when I made the decision to bring the cat on board as well, he  instantaneously relaxed upon being with him again.

Because I am a foster, all the animals I take in are immediately brought to a vet (if they didn't already come from home), to be tested - blood, fecal, hair, saliva, etc. Whatever it may be.

I did all the possible tests available for a chinchilla, including any I could do for the cat. Besides malnutrition, both checked out fine (luckily). I am aware that doesn't negate the possibility of transmitting diseases and such, but if I take the cat from the chinnie or vice versa they become quite nervous and fidgety without one another. So ... I figure that the next best thing I can do is monitor them. The chinnie is kept in a cage without the cat (of course), so the most the cat can do is nuzzle him through the bars or sleep by the cage. But when I take the chinnie out to play or snuggle, the cat always participates as well.

In answer to the other question - his cage is a 4-tiered chinnie cage with a Snak Shak, wood chews (hanging ones and individual chips), hay manger, chinnie bedding, hay hut to sleep in and eat (which he has done a number on that thing), etc. Everything is all natural with no artificial coloring and such.
I clean it everyday or every other day depending on the work week.

As of now, he is fed the basic pellet food, but the bag I bought was pretty expensive (I didn't want to go cheap). The only treats he currently gets are Dandelion Drops? If that sounds familiar. They were a gift from the shelter and he loves them so ...
I have also been researching natural foods to feed them as strictly treats (not necessarily part of a routine diet). As long as it is unsalted, sugarless, etc. Raisins I heard are okay in limited quantities?
« Last Edit: August 09, 2016, 03:44:31 PM by WhiffenPoof »
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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2016, 04:59:49 PM »

Here are my recommendations based on what I can see.

The biggest health risks are respiratory infections, intestinal infections, and tooth problems. Your vet has pretty much ruled these out. Your biggest indicator of problems is going to be trends in weight. Weigh your chin once a week and look for sharp weight loss trends. Of course fecal output is a big indicator as well. Make sure there is no change in the texture or size either larger or smaller. Of course there are indicators like fur chewing, drooling, mucus from the eyes, etc. keep track of input and output and you may catch something before it gets that far.

Of course you know that one wrong move with the cat it's probably going to be over for your chinchilla. Cats are much tougher than chins.

-Cage (no useable information) Should be all metal with no plastic parts. All chinchilla cages should have solid pine shelving installed. If you need to modify your cage I can help you there with ideas.

-Snak shak (looked it up) I don't recommend this. It has honey in it and sugars are not good for chinchillas. Recommend wood huts made of solid wood.

-Chinnie Bedding (no indication of what kind). I'm assuming you're not using fleece lining. Do not use paper bedding or cedar chips both are dangerous and paper bedding is known to cause skin problems and bowel obstructions. Use kiln-dried white pine. For one chinchilla you should only have to change the bedding once a week to 10 days. Or unless you think it's starting to smell which it shouldn't until closer to 7-10 days.

-Diet (no indication of what kind). Please be more specific on this. There are many brands. The most expensive isn't necessarily the best. Chins should be put on plain alfalfa pellets. Mixtures are not good. Foods with fruits, nuts, or seeds are detrimental to them. You'd be amazed that good diets can be right next to horrendous diets known to kill pets on the same shelf.

-Hay manger (no indication). If it's one of those wire hay balls stop using it. Most designs of these are not safe.

-Dandelion drops. I recommend not feeding these. They have extra vitamins in them and they are sugary. Not really a good combination.

-Raisins. There's some controversy on these because they can harbor toxic mold that is known to kill them instantly although it very rare. I would recommend rose hips, and only one small one a day for an healthy adult chinchilla that is not stressed. Honestly I don't see a need for giving chinchillas treats as food. When you learn to interact with them you'll find they like to be scratched and they'll groom your hair and face. Your chin will eventually get used to being handled. If you need treats as a training aid to tame a difficult animal that is one thing but there is much less risk if you simply keep them on a regular diet of loose hay and quality alfalfa-based pellets. They simply do not need anything besides that to live very long lives.

I know I sound like I'm minimalist and boring but when it comes to chinchilla digestion you don't want things to get interesting. The safest alternatives are non-food treats and giving them personal interaction. You'd be surprised how they might interact with chew toys if you hold them in your hands.

Of course if you have any more questions or comments ask away. We have a good community here.
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WhiffenPoof

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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2016, 05:54:03 PM »

Here are my recommendations based on what I can see.

The biggest health risks are respiratory infections, intestinal infections, and tooth problems. Your vet has pretty much ruled these out. Your biggest indicator of problems is going to be trends in weight. Weigh your chin once a week and look for sharp weight loss trends. Of course fecal output is a big indicator as well. Make sure there is no change in the texture or size either larger or smaller. Of course there are indicators like fur chewing, drooling, mucus from the eyes, etc. keep track of input and output and you may catch something before it gets that far.

Of course you know that one wrong move with the cat it's probably going to be over for your chinchilla. Cats are much tougher than chins.

-Cage (no useable information) Should be all metal with no plastic parts. All chinchilla cages should have solid pine shelving installed. If you need to modify your cage I can help you there with ideas.

-Snak shak (looked it up) I don't recommend this. It has honey in it and sugars are not good for chinchillas. Recommend wood huts made of solid wood.

-Chinnie Bedding (no indication of what kind). I'm assuming you're not using fleece lining. Do not use paper bedding or cedar chips both are dangerous and paper bedding is known to cause skin problems and bowel obstructions. Use kiln-dried white pine. For one chinchilla you should only have to change the bedding once a week to 10 days. Or unless you think it's starting to smell which it shouldn't until closer to 7-10 days.

-Diet (no indication of what kind). Please be more specific on this. There are many brands. The most expensive isn't necessarily the best. Chins should be put on plain alfalfa pellets. Mixtures are not good. Foods with fruits, nuts, or seeds are detrimental to them. You'd be amazed that good diets can be right next to horrendous diets known to kill pets on the same shelf.

-Hay manger (no indication). If it's one of those wire hay balls stop using it. Most designs of these are not safe.

-Dandelion drops. I recommend not feeding these. They have extra vitamins in them and they are sugary. Not really a good combination.

-Raisins. There's some controversy on these because they can harbor toxic mold that is known to kill them instantly although it very rare. I would recommend rose hips, and only one small one a day for an healthy adult chinchilla that is not stressed. Honestly I don't see a need for giving chinchillas treats as food. When you learn to interact with them you'll find they like to be scratched and they'll groom your hair and face. Your chin will eventually get used to being handled. If you need treats as a training aid to tame a difficult animal that is one thing but there is much less risk if you simply keep them on a regular diet of loose hay and quality alfalfa-based pellets. They simply do not need anything besides that to live very long lives.

I know I sound like I'm minimalist and boring but when it comes to chinchilla digestion you don't want things to get interesting. The safest alternatives are non-food treats and giving them personal interaction. You'd be surprised how they might interact with chew toys if you hold them in your hands.

Of course if you have any more questions or comments ask away. We have a good community here.

Okay so... I apologize for such limited information, I am so new to this lol *facepalm*

1.) the cage is all metal, no plastic. I bought one specifically designed for chinnies so it's well-established.

2.) Snak Shak - okay, I will be sure to research that again. I heard a lot of great things about it, so I will see what else I can find. I will take it out for now.

3.) Bedding - it is definitely not paper or cedar. I heard the same comments about both of those. It is a "wood" bedding for sure, dark brown. Soft and crumbly. I will double check once I am home.

4.) Diet - by pellets, I meant alfalfa pellets (-: That is all he is getting for now except those Dandelion Drops, 1 twice a week. Which leads to 5.) I will be sure to cut those out! He is gonna be mad LOL

6.) In regards to the cat ... he is very very old, I can only hope he is too arthritic and decrepit to do much lol I just hate to keep them apart, it seems to really worry the chinnie :-/ Perhaps a second chinnie would be better? I hear they enjoy company if they are coherent with one another.
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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2016, 06:45:28 PM »

Some chins like company and others dont. I would keep the cat apart. Even with a vet visit the other pets can bring in contaminants. Dont feel bad, we all start somewhere. The important thing is that your asking questions and willing to learn
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WhiffenPoof

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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2016, 04:22:54 PM »

Some chins like company and others dont. I would keep the cat apart. Even with a vet visit the other pets can bring in contaminants. Dont feel bad, we all start somewhere. The important thing is that your asking questions and willing to learn

I was considering getting him a female companion soon, to see how it goes. It will be unfortunate if it doesn't work out ... what is the best way to introduce them to ensure I at least give them an adequate chance to get to know one another? Properly and safely.

Please let me know what the best plan of action is!
« Last Edit: August 18, 2016, 04:45:50 PM by WhiffenPoof »
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GrayRodent

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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2016, 06:31:15 PM »

Your best plan of action is not to put in a female with a male unless you intend to breed. And if you intend to breed it should always be done with pedigreed chinchillas from reputable breeders and never with rescues that do not have such background or papers from the breeder. A reputable breeder keeps records and keeps track. Please breed responsibly. There is a great deal to learn and we can refer you to resources and perhaps local breeders and if you're serious about breeding.

Chinchillas are almost always better off living alone. Combining chins is complicated and they can still turn on each other at any time even after they bonded and introduced. This means you still need to have a way to house them separately even if everything goes well at first.

The best method for combination begins with housing them in separate cages in the same room for 2-3 weeks before introducing. They should be introduced in such a way that you can easily separate them if they appear to be attacking each other. Aggressive chins have been known to kill with one well placed bite.
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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2016, 07:59:54 PM »

I wouldnt suggest getting him a female friend. They will breed and it can be quite costly (money wise and emotionally). Your chin will be fine alone. Theres no need to get him a buddy. Do you have a second cage ready? They may not ever get along regardless of the sex.
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WhiffenPoof

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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2016, 05:38:21 PM »

Okay, understood. I just heard down the line somewhere and read among multiple sources that chinnies did best with company - I think I read that they live in herds in the Andes, too? Idk. Hence why I am asking ^.^

Anyway, I have ZERO interest or intention of breeding him. Especially being a rescue. I work with horses for a living so I get the whole "registration," "pedigree," "papers," "bloodline" thing for sure! Idk why that didn't occur to me about putting a female in there xD Oops!

I was just moderately concerned that he would get too lonely when I wasn't home ... he gets SO excited when I walk through the door, he starts jumping up on his back legs and standing up and trying to climb the side for me to scratch his head. Then he just stands there with is eyes closed while I massage his nose. Just makes me think he is craving companionship??
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Re: Hello from the Lone Star state - 1st time chinnie owner!
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2016, 09:43:46 PM »

I think most pet chinchillas prefer to live alone. I have to very friendly and sociable pets who will come to me for rubs and scratches but they cannot tolerate each other for more than 10 minutes if put in the same space.
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