Is Your Chinchilla Lonely?
Can you imagine living out your life on your very own island? Imagine living on a beautiful tropical paradise, with plenty of food, shelter, water, the perfect temperature. All your needs are met, but you are completely alone (except for the native wildlife).
Many pet situations are just like this. In a home where all their basic needs are met, but the owners simply want "one" of whatever. We have heard the excuses; "I can only afford one," "I want to bond and spoil just one," "I didn't think they could get along with the same gender and didn't want to chance having babies," etc.
What these reasons don't take into account is the fact that chinchillas, and many other species, live their lives in groups. Much like horses, chinchillas are herd animals. In fact, chinchillas snuggle and pile together for comfort and safety. They groom one another and generally keep each other content.
We have seen and heard innumerable cases of chinchillas raised in isolation who have simply turned neurotic; they start to chew their fur, bark or call a lot, are much more hyper than usual, and can even expire prematurely. Do you blame them? Not to say that all chins stress out by being an only pet, but a truly concerned pet owner will consider the pet's needs before theirpersonal preferences.
Don't believe the myth that having two or more will cause them to bond more strongly to one another than to you. While that is true of birds, it simply is not the case with chinchillas. Actually, we have found that paired chins are more friendly and interactive since their basic comfort needs are met.
At our rescue, we work very diligently to spread the word about chinchillas' needs, and do our best to ensure that each single chin has a snuggle buddy before they are adopted to a new home.
But it's not as easy as it sounds. Chinchillas like to choose their own friends and sometimes it's quite apparent that certain chins simply HATE each other. Group dynamics can be tricky, which is why we do all the hard work first. ;)