Happy July!

For the month of June, seven (7) chinchillas were surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted. *sigh* Surrenders are high again with people on a surrender waiting list.

Whimsy strongly believes that a major part of surrendering excuses revolve around simply not understanding chinchilla behavior and body language. Rarely do we meet a person who is horribly heartbroken over the decision to surrender. Most often we see relief or guilt.When a person has a less than ideal relationship with their pet, it's that much easier to give them up. Training your pet chinchilla is a mutually beneficial way to bond with your furry friend. Pet chinchillas can learn certain tricks and other trained behaviors.

The majority of trained animal actions are based on the natural tendencies of the critter involved. For example, cats naturally gravitate to defecate and urinate in a sandy spot where they can easily cover the evidence. A chinchilla that habitually urinates in one corner of their cage can be “trained” to use a litter box (assuming you put it in the same corner).

Some people don’t realize that they are training their chinchilla without even knowing it! A chinchilla who bites when he no longer wants to be held has learned this very, very bad behavior. If your chinnie struggles or nips while holding them, do NOT give in to the animal by releasing them. This causes a vicious cycle of behavior where the chinchilla learns that with some struggle or teeth, they can be released to play, or put back into the peace and security of their cage. (More on the proper way to catch and hold a chinchilla later).

Another common badly learned behavior are those well-intentioned chinchilla owners who throw open the chin’s cage door to allow them out to play. I can’t stress this enough: never allow your chin free roam out their cage doors. This teaches your chinnie to bolt, which makes cage cleaning, feeding and other simple tasks very difficult. It is frustrating when you have to fight to keep your chin in their cage when you want them there, especially if you have to leave your chin in the care of someone who may not be able to handle them safely. With a training technique referred to successive approximation, you can teach your chinnie to step politely onto your hands when it’s time to come out and play. This trained behavior works especially well if you have a chinchilla that is already friendly and inquisitive.

Chinchillas are very smart. They learn to recognize tone of voice and some can even recognize their names! Yes, we know of chinchillas that will actually come when called. There are even chinchillas who can perform simple tricks like jumping through a hoop on command, standing pretty for a treat, giving a high five, hopping onto a shoulder and other seemingly dog-like tricks. Youtube is full of videos with trained chinchilla clips. Interestingly enough, some of those video makers claim their chinchillas are not trained. In actuality, if a chinchilla performs a certain behavior as expected and on command, you can be sure it’s “trained” or learned behavior. Some people are just talented enough to not realize that is what they have inadvertently done. ;)

Training your chinchilla does take a lot of time and patience. The process, however, can be a rewarding and enriching experience for the owner and the chin as they learn to fine-tune their interactions. Chinchilla training is another creative way to enjoy your pet. And just think; if more people spent that much more time with their chinchillas, how many fewer surrenders we’d have due to loss of interest!

This is Whimsy, wishful dreaming, and I approve this message.