Posts tagged aggression
Welcome to our new website!

Happy June everyone!

Our graphic designer said it's time for our website to grow up. So we have launched a new version. This site now contains a blog format for updates which will allow you to search specific terms such as "malocclusion," "cage design ideas," "pairbonding," etc. We also have a fantastic new layout and pictures of our store items. Also, after much prodding and poking, Whimsy has finally made the hand crafted soaps available in our store.

Our old web address ( will remain live for those who just hate change. But the constant glitches with that server were causing some pretty severe issues where ordering and payments were concerned. We're hoping this new site will be glitch free, hassle free and fun! Now if only I could get the graphic designer to lighten up a bit and add some more pictures. Anyhoo....

For the month of May three (3) chinchillas were surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted. We were especially excited to see Chi go to his forever home. Chi was our "least likely to be adopted" chin. Like a troubled teenager, Chi just needed someone with the patience of a saint who was willing to work within his boundaries. Marilyn was just that person. On rare occasions we hear from folks who like a challenge. Marilyn was literally a life saver.

Which reminds me. I need to clarify that even though we are not a no-kill shelter, we rarely ever actually put down a surrendered chin. Only the most medically terminal go over the rainbow bridge with an express ticket. The aggressive biters stay with us until a knight in shining armor comes along, or if we are called upon to take in mass numbers of adoptable chins all at once. We operate as a home-based shelter affiliate. So it's not unusual for entire herds to be sent our way.

We have become much more strict regarding our surrender policy. So we have not had to deal with chins overflowing into the living space again. We have also managed to pairbond larger groups of same-gender chins to save on space.

Another exciting bit of news is we now have contact with a local vet who is willing to spay and neuter our rescues....for a fee, of course. We feel it is well worth the cost! This will allow us more flexibility when it comes to pairbonding. The highly alpha boys typically (but not always) get along fine with a female who can put them in line with a well aimed stream of urine. That seems to settle them down fast whereas another boy would simply attack.

At any rate, we covet your continued support! With the added cost of surgery this was never designed into our budget. Fortunately we have a large following of great folks who have learned about our fabulous chew toys and cage accessories. These sales make it possible for us to continue with our mission. So, spread the word and keep coming back! *cough* And a special thank you to those who round up their order total. ;)

Happy September!

For the month of August, one (1) chinchilla was surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted. We're getting very close to reclaiming space to have a clothes washer and dryer again. Our current chin count is 74 with 21 available for adoption and 3 long term boarders. One pair of boarders are males who have been together since weaning (and may be brothers, I don't quite remember the story). Boys can be incredibly difficult to keep together in the same home where female chinchillas live. It's been a very rocky three years... There are, however, rumors going around that all of our boarders will finally go home soon.

On a similar note, we've still have quite a few inquires for our matchmaking service. We only bond same gender cage mates. It is a myth that only male/female pairs are compatible. On occasion, a chinchilla bond doesn't last. There are ways to intercept a souring relationship and potentially salvage it!

Some signs to watch for are general discontent; chasing, kacking, spitting, urine spraying (in females), and barking are subtle clues that one or the other is unhappy. These minor reactions are harmless and simply a way to establish boundaries. Watch for escalation in these behaviors. The key point being how the underdog reacts toward his or her cage mate. Little nibbles around the face are grooming behaviors. Do not mistake these for aggressive biting.

Any event that causes physical or psychological harm will affect a bond. The more alarming symptoms of a shaky bond is; rising on the hind legs showing teeth or teeth chattering, chasing with fur pulling or biting, and ambushing (sudden unprovoked attacks).  At this point you can intervene. Keep reading for information about when and how to play peacemaker.

The point of no return.

Any bite that leaves a bloody mark is cause for concern. Sometimes it's difficult to see a bite on a chin unless it's severe. If you find a chinchilla acting strangely toward his or her cage mate, look carefully by blowing into the fur to check for wounds. Watch for telltale "wet marks" on the fur. Those usually signal an underlying wound. 

Chinchilla bites happen in typical ways. A bite to the back of the neck or throat is a kill stroke. These chins are INCOMPATIBLE. Do NOT attempt to keep them together.

Another type of bite is "death from a thousand wounds". An aggressor will inflict multiple bites beginning with fur pulling that escalates to countless slashes along the backside. Once again, this is a completely broken bond. These chins are also INCOMPATIBLE and must remain separate from each other. Chinchillas are bipolar. You can have chins that have issues during the night and snuggle during the day. They are users. Like a codependent relationship, sometimes they will exhibit behaviors that appear completely irrational.

We have developed a method that helps chins recover from discontent before a major blowout. This method does NOT work with chins who have already drawn blood and inflicted wounds. If you catch an issue before it gets to the point of bloodshed, you can potentially salvage the relationship. Taken from parenting advice, we employ the Timeout Method.

We move the aggressor into a travel cage (with food and water). The cage must be small enough to fit inside the regular cage where the chins can remain close enough to interact, but safe behind bars. The aggressor stays in the holding cage for a minimum of 12 hours. If after 12 hours there are still signs of discontent between the cage mates, the underdog then goes into the safety of the holding cage. If after that time there are still issues between the cage mates, the aggressor returns to the holding cage. This separation allows for a cooling off period and keeps them safe, especially if no one is around to stop a fight. In general, this method helps divert an escalating fight before it becomes beyond repair.

The longest we've had to employ this method has been a three day interval. Generally a day or two is all that is necessary for the chins to calm down and forget their angst. For particularly uptight pairs, you may have to use the Timeout Method as needed. If after three consecutive days there is still significant trouble, give up. Seriously. Know that you have savedyour chins from a fight to the death. 

We have shared this information with others who have needed advice. We will refer any further inquiries to this post. If you feel bad for the chin in the holding cage and decide to cut the time out period shorter, you risk exacerbating the problem. If the aggressor is uptight, biting on the bars or trying hard to get out, you can be assured he'll use that energy and focus it on his target. Until the aggressor has settled down and submitted to the confines of the holding cage, there is still too much pent up aggression.

As with human relationships, sometimes a chinchilla friendship just doesn't last. As chin owners we should always be prepared for a worst case scenario. Strongly bonded chins can lose their bond. This is sometimes due to a cage that is too small, inconsistent access to food and water, stress from moving, or the addition of new chinchillas in the home, particularly mixed gender groupings. Be ever watchful, be prepared, and trust your instincts.


The full moon is waning, thank God! We definitely see a difference in behaviors with the full moon, not only in the chins, but in people as well. Either that or sheer volume of inquiries dictates that we receive calls and emails that are sometimes rather... interesting.

Chinnie behavior during a full moon brings out high energy and sometimes subtle aggression. Just like siblings who occasionally have tiffs, chins have their differences too. One way we manage squabbles is with a-- no kidding-- timeout cage. The chaser is placed into a small carrier within the regular cage. This keeps everyone safe, but still in communion. We find that a night in time out is enough to regain the previous harmony. 

For this reason, it is also important that groups, especially males, have a place they can retreat to. Those silly little ceramic "dusters" with the ears is a perfect solution to allow a respite. 

As for human behavior, I'm going to bring this post to a screeching halt to add my latest pet peeve: We are a home-based rescue and as such are open by appointment. We are NOT a pet store.  We do not "sell" chinchillas. Our job is to ensure that each chin(s)  goes to a home that is fully equipped to offer them a better environment than the one we currently do. 

With that being said, we have, and will deny adoption to those who do not read our adoption contract and are not completely prepared to receive them. Non emergency phone calls before 9am or after 8:00 pm will NOT be warmly received as I question the competence of anyone who will make this kind of judgement error. 

If you don't already have a suitable habitat, we offer complete cage setups available for purchase that are much, much cheaper (not to mention chin-ready) than anything available in a pet store. 

Catharsis. I'm better now. Thanks. :)


As usual, it was another exciting week. 12 chinchillas were surrendered from three different homes.

The first pair actually found a new home within days. It was one of the fastest turn arounds we've ever seen! It was a good thing too. Sometimes when bonded males come in together, once they catch the scent of females, they turn on their cagemate and fight for perceived mating privileges. Within two days this pair began the tell tale signs of a souring relationship. We were very happy when someone inquired about the boys the very day we posted them as available. Shadow and Twitter are now settling down in a new home surprisingly like their old one.

The same day, we received a phone call inquiring about surrendering 8 chinchillas. All the females were housed with males, so they are now on maternity watch while we try bonding the males. So far it's working out surprisingly well.

With this being said... we have lots of available chins. Prior to this weekend, we had over a dozen awaiting new homes. Our biggest concern is in rehoming some of the fuzzbutts who are ready to go. As we have a plethora of used cages available now, we are temporarily offering cages with a select few. Check out the adoptions page for more details.