Posts tagged environment
Stress Induced Fur Chewing

Yup, we see a lot of cases that involve this and we love to see the transformation from a ragged, sad little animal to a full, fluffy, thriving one.

Chinchillas will chew their own fur and the fur and whiskers of a cagemate when confronted by a stressful living environment. Some of the factors being; a cage that is too small or otherwise overcrowded, the wrong "kind" of cage, inadequate chew toys, no place to hide or an exposed cage (insecurity), lack of exercise, and general boredom. 

One of the responsibilities of a good owner is to see to the needs of their pet. Providing environmental enrichment is an often overlooked need. It is for this reason that our adoption contact specifies the provision of a "Whimsy approved" cage. We have seen, and continue to see situations where well-meaning owners simply do not know what a chinchilla truly needs. We have seen chins housed in hamster cages, glass aquariums, dog kennels, guinea pig cages with no ledges, small cages with only one or two ledges, free-ranged (!) and even chins housed in solid wood boxes and rabbit hutches.

Pet stores offer chinchilla "starter cages." A starter cage is NOT supposed to be permanent housing. Starter cages are intended to hold a single, baby chinchilla. They are too constricting for a full grown adult yet we have seen as many as 5 chinchillas in a tiny cage such as that.

With chinchillas, the bigger the cage, the better. The more interesting the cage, the better. The more stimulating the cage, the better. A chinchilla housed in a wonderland will rarely, if ever, chew their fur. If your chinnie has plenty of toys and ledges, they are less likely to take out their frustration on themselves or a cagemate.

Some of our chinnie friends take cage decorating seriously! We love to see the creative designs folks come up with regarding their accessorizing (especially if those accessories come from our store ;) ). We do our best to offer safe, fun and completely thought out ledges, bridges and hiding places. Just remember, wooden accessories are safe for chewing and will eventually need replacing.

You can limit the ledge chewing and fur chewing by providing copious amounts of chew toys. A good rule of thumb for chews is to offer at least three toys at any given time: one hard (such as pumice based toys), one soft (shreddable type toys), and one mixed. Expect to rotate or replace chew toys or some of the components weekly. If your pet chinchilla isn't actively engaged in working their teeth, they can and do take it out on themselves or even the bars of their cage! Fur chewers tend to be nervous pickers. They thrive on the soft, shreddy-type toys. Even so, chinchillas' teeth grow in spurts. A chin who shuns pumice one week might destroy it in a heartbeat the next. (And yes, destroying their toys is a GOOD thing!)

A secure chinchilla is a happy chinchilla. A place to hide such as a hanging tube, hidey house or even a plain cardboard box helps. The cage placement in a room will also contribute to a feeling of security. Chins do best in a living room corner away from a doorway where they can survey the comings and goings of their human friends. This type of daily inclusion helps ease boredom and contributes to a well-socialized pet. Some chins actually enjoy watching TV! They are social creatures. Please remember to let them be a part of the family. Your life and theirs will be enriched by daily contact.

Here are Amanda and Thunder watching Animal Planet together.

We understand that no good pet owner intends to do harm to their pet. But often bad situations arise from owners who simply do not have good, solid advice to make informed decisions. We hope that we can offer that advice without demeaning or berating those who honestly don't know any better. If you know of a chin owner who can benefit from our webpage, please share. For the sake and benefit of the chinchillas first; we faithfully serve.

Happy October!

For the month of September, sixteen (16) chinchillas were surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted. This is pretty typical as September is the month when school starts back up again and people are in a general state of end-of-summer transition.

With the end of summer comes cooler months. This is a blessed relief for chinchillas who may have endured a climate warmer than ideal. This time of year we throw open our windows and welcome the cool, fresh air.

There is a lot of confusion about the difference between a draft of air and fresh air, however.

One dictionary resource defines a draft as an unwanted, cold, wet blast of air in an enclosed space. Drafts of winter air in leaky homes can cause upper respiratory and nasal infections in chinchillas, which can be life threatening.

On the flip side, fresh, circulating air is absolutely necessary for optimum chinchilla health. Ironically, chinchillas that are confined to stuffy living spaces also suffer from respiratory problems. Theirs is due to compromise in overall health which predisposes the weakened chinto catching transferable illnesses such as the common cold.

Lighting is also important to a chinchilla's health. Their natural circadian rhythms require a certain number of daylight and dark hours. Chins kept in a basement without natural daylight suffer. Chins kept in a room with artificial light, or a nightlight on constantly, also suffer. This can be evident by behavioral problems as well, which are a symptom of stress.   

Ranchers know the importance of air and light. When a chinchilla lives in a stuffy or dark home, this affects their health often evidenced by their fur, which becomes oxidized much more quickly, giving the animal a dull, yellowish cast.  Chinchillas without adequate access to fresh air and natural or full spectrum lighting become obvious in the look of their coat. These two factors play an especially important part when chinchillas are shown professionally. For people with chinchillas strictly as pets, wouldn't you too want to give them the best, most healthy, home? 

Happy February!

For the month of January, ten (10) chinchillas were surrendered, and six (6) chinchillas were adopted. Four (4) chinchillas have come off of maternity watch without kits and are now available as a bonded group. At this time we have approximately twenty (20) chinchillas who are waiting for their new homes.  

One of our visitors commented that it must be difficult to re-home pairs and groups of chinchillas. On the contrary!  We have found those who research first the decision to adopt an exotic pet understand the unique needs of chinchillas and the fact that they desire the comfort of their own kind when we are not available to interact with them. That is, assuming the chin in question is not overly aggressive or neurotic. 

With caged pets, it's just as easy to care for multiples as it is to care for a single...within reason. But the largest consideration is the size and layout of their environment. A well provided home offers approximately 2x2x2 square feet of cage space per chinchilla. Overlap on space can occur withsmall groups, but in general these are the dimensions you'll want to shoot for. Having plenty of ledges, shelves, hiding places and other forms of environmental stimulation is absolutely necessary to keep your pets happy and mentally healthy. Too many times we've received (or seen) horrible cages that look more like jail cells than homes. Which is why we offer complete cage setups in our "pre-owned cages" page of our store. 

Folks often ask how much it costs to get/own/maintain a chinchilla. After the initial sticker shock of the pet, cage and accessories, regular monthly upkeep is minimal, depending on where you purchase your supplies. ;) *cough* If you haven't already, come check out our co-op style store. 

Whimsy's Interior Design

Oftentimes when chinchillas are surrendered, they come in cages that are too small, chewed up, rusted through or otherwise entirely inadequate to house a curious chin. For this reason Whimsy's gathers and fixes cages to make available to people looking to house a newly adopted chin or to upgrade their preexisting cage. With all the cool items we have available in our store, decorating cages is one of the most enjoyable jobs here. Take a look at one of our start to finish cages. Thank you to Flowerbud and Mandolin for their untiring work putting together this stop motion video. 

Mandi Vollmercage, store, environment
Introducing Bridges with Bling!

We finally did it!

We are constantly looking for ways to improve our numerous toy and cage accessory designs. Our suspension bridges are one thing that has gone through several revamps throughout the years, but I think we’ve finally hit on a winner.

~*~ Bridges with Bling! ~*~ ™

Our newest version of these fun cage accessories now come with mixed gemstone spacer beads. That’s right, gemstones! Previously, the wooden beads made tempting chews for chins, which destroyed the function and safety of our beautiful design. Now, with rock hard gemstones (the same relative hardness as chew-proof glass water bottles) we have a stunning new and improved version that we expect to last! 

Our extra wide, 8” bridges come in ready made lengths of approximately 3 feet long, but you can custom order any length (or color as available) to perfectly match your cage setup. See our Store page for more details.

Thank you to Cheryl Graham from Che’ Chinchillas ( for the brainstorming sessions and awesome name for our new product.