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Author Topic: New owner help  (Read 465 times)

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New owner help
« on: January 26, 2017, 02:01:26 PM »

Hi everyone!
My name is Sarah, about a week or so ago I got myself a chinchilla from a breeder. I had a chinchilla once before, when I was young, I'm 23 now and this one doesn't act like my old one (which is understandable, no two pets are alike!)
My old chinchilla was very sweet and sat on my feet every day when I came home from school, but it's been a very long time since I've owned one (first one died when I was around 12/13) so I'm definitely a beginner. Looking back I probably did a few things wrong when I was a kid.

My current chinchilla is a female (like my old one), turning one year old April 17th, was hand raised and is not aggressive. But I don't think she likes me

Every time I let her out, all she wants to do is hide. She can't get out of her cage by herself, since the cage has legs, but she doesn't let me touch her very often. Last night I think I made some progress though, I was talking to her very gently and slowly put my hand in the cage until I could pet her. She likes being scratched on her cheek it seems, but even so I can only do it for a few seconds before she tries to hide.

I read a few things on here that said you should never chase your chin, and when I'd let her out I would always have to. Since I read that on here though I haven't been letting her out, or chasing her.

I live with two other animals, a cat and a bird. My cat is turning 10 this year, and only tries to bother Dawn (my chin) when she's roaming around on the floor. My cat is extremely shy in general, doesn't leave my room very often
My bird doesn't do anything to bother her, except yesterday when I came home she was on top of Dawn's cage

Dawn's cage is pretty big, her wheel is 16 inches wide, she has a Kaytee spill-proof water bottle. I give her both timothy and alfalfa hay. I have her on Vitakraft right now cuz that's all they had at the pet store, but I'll be switching it soon to a better brand.
In the first few days I gave her raisins for treats, but it made her poop soft so I stopped. No problems with her poop since then. She has untreated wood in her cage to chew on, a salt lick, and a chew toy and hammock that doesn't really use.
I have both fleece blankets and paper bedding of the bottom of her cage. She also has a hay tunnel that she likes to chew on, and a hut that she kind of just ignores. And of course a dust bin that I refill daily
she also has a litter box in the corner that she uses very well. I didn't even have to train her to use it, she just did it on her own!
I give her NO plastic at all. Either metal, wood, paper, or cardboard.
I hope I'm doing things right so far when it comes down to her living situation. If not I would love some tips, and how I could possibly get her used to me without her just wanting to hide.

(mandatory pics)



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Re: New owner help
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2017, 04:54:12 PM »

Congrats on your new pet. Chinchillas naturally want to run and hide when you have them them out and seek for dark places to disappear under. It is a natural behavior for any chin.
Chinchillas have to be socialized and it is a process that takes months. They are not like cats and dogs, typically, that instantly take to a person. So if your new pet is not acting aggressive and trying to bite you count that as a blessing a good start.

Chasing your chinchilla is certainly necessary when it gets out but it also can be a way to condition it to fear you. The key is to make sure it has much more positive interaction with you than negative. The first week or two of introducing a chin to its new place is stressful for it. Take things slow and be gentle. Interact through the bars and door of the cage as much as possible. They will usually come if they hear your hand or think someone is there. Just watch for a minute or two and let her come to you.

When you take you pet out of the cage there will be a level of stress for it. They usually prefer to stay in their cages unless they are very tame.

Just remember this a process and it is one where you need to be observant and work together with your chinchilla and learn from each other. The more you work with your chin the farther you can go but if you rush it you'll loose that trust and your pet will always run from you.

Beware of the cat. Chinchillas are also very fragile, more like birds. One strike by the cat and it could be over.

Timothy and alfalfa mixed is good. My favorite diet is Oxbow but I'll probably be switching to Mazuri, which is less expensive and it is also an excellent diet.
Remove the salt lick. That is not something chins should have. Good call on poop. Treats need to be in very small quantities, no more than two raisins in a day, and that is only for healthy chins that are not stressed. I have ceased to feed my chins treats entirely. They really aren't necessary for their diet. They are so tame now they think it's a treat to get scratched on the chin and they'll even take hay and pellets from me.
I think you should not be using paper or absorbent bedding and go with white pine (not cedar but pine) chips. Paper can cause skin problems and in some cases bowel obstructions.

I highly recommend having a wooden shelf or two for your pet. Wooden chew toys are good. The litter box idea looks good but you'll find if you remove the box your chinchilla will now use the same corner of the cage now that's it a habit. They tend to be very smart about this.

Your dust bath should not be kept in the cage. Chins should be dusted 2-3 times a week for about 10-15 minutes for a session. Dust can dry the skin badly, especially on the feet and ears. And then there's the issue of urine in the dust which is also irritating and can breed disease.

I'm a programmer not a chinchilla breeder. I learn by asking questions just like you.
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