Posts tagged hall of shame
Happy April!

For the month of March eleven (11) chinchillas were surrendered and six (6) chinchillas were adopted.

The eleven incoming chins were, in fact, the mixed herd I spoke of in last month's post. We have 7 girls and 4 boys. The transfer party tossed all the chinchillas together into one cage for transport. Picture to the right shows the transport cage after we sexed and moved the girls. 

What were they thinking???? This decision made the history forms absolutely useless. We were then forced to start at ground zero with regards to grouping them according to compatibility. Of course we would have had to separate the sexes anyway, but still.

Six of the seven girls get along well enough to share a triple stack Critter Nation cage. The one loner was exceptionally anxious. She lashed out at every chin who came near her. She has her own penthouse next to her former housemates and seems to enjoy the special attention. She also seems to be the only one showing signs of pregnancy. *sigh*

Of the boys, two began to cause trouble and had to go into separate cages. A pair of boys was adopted later in the month.

When we take in surrenders, we require the cages come too. Most of the time unwanted chins come in typical pet store starter cages. You know the kind. The small two level cages with plastic ledges? We've even had chins surrendered housed in hamster cages! One of the chins incoming lived in a tiny carrier with barely enough room to move in a circle. This was evidenced by the amount of protein buildup in the urine spots on the cage floor. Of the various cages, we were able to salvage a two part Critter Nation cage. We cleaned that up, gave it brand new pan liners and accessories and added a third level. The other cages were just too rusted and broken or too small to use. They went for scrap metal.

The pictures below are from surrender day.  This is where the term "rescue" comes in. Several of the chins had pretty bad fur mats and grease balls despite the transfer party telling us they had a dust bath the night before. This little girl had a virtual turkey tail. Someone from our Facebook page said she looked like a peacock. The matted hair was long as dreadlocks. Surprisingly, the grooming session only took 6 minutes flat to remove. It's amazing what one can do with a proper show comb and some experience. ;) You're welcome.

Happy December!

Happy December everyone!

For the month of November, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and zero (0) chinchillas were adopted. This is actually a good thing as giving pets for Christmas is generally a bad idea and the numbers of dumped pets each holiday season is notoriously common.  In our particular instance, as long as our adoption numbers remain low, we simply cannot take in more surrenders. For those of you who consider adoption instead of purchasing chinchillas from a breeder or pet store, thank you!

December has a been a busy one for Christmas orders. It's fun to see people who want to spoil their fur babies this time of year. Many individuals have chosen the Ultimate Chew ToyBundle. We're thrilled! The bundle has so many favorites and a fantastic variety. Depending on the number of chins one owns and how "destructive" they are, this bundle can last for many months. Which reminds me...we had someone write with concern that their chinchilla was suddenly destroying all his new cage accessories. Folks, this is a good thing! A chin with a hearty chewing habit is one that is less prone to malocclusion. It's a mistake to choose toys that aren't ones the chin demolishes quickly. Did you hear that? Sometimes I feel like a broken record. After having been immersed in all things chinchilla for nearly a decade, I find myself making the same statements over...and over...and over again.

I hope our long time followers don't become frustrated by the repetition as Whimsy is tempted to be. Unfortunately, some of our long time followers are the ones who are guilty. Case in point: we heard from someone recently who purchased a 50lb bag of feed for a single chinchilla. Thinking they could save lots of money, they would have done just as well feeding their chinchilla cardboard. The nutritional value depleted long ago.

Another instance of broken record syndrome this year was hearing from another young chin owner who wanted to let a father/daughter pair share a cage. Her rationale was that the chins would somehow know they were related and not mate with each other. (I'm so glad y'all can't see my eye roll over here.)

And other hall of shame instances this year are otherwise intelligent people who can't accurately tell the gender of their pet or who feed their chins fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts and wonder why they suddenly have unplanned babies, pass away or have other health issues. So when people contact us saying they've "done the research", please forgive me if I'm skeptical.

Ok, enough pessimism for one post. On a much more positive light, we've received some beautiful, wonderfully uplifting emails regarding the essay in last month's post. We have also experienced some extremely generous individuals who have donated to our cause. When we began the chinchilla rescue it was to fill a need. Whimsy absorbed all the upfront costs with no expectation of assistance. We are thankful that the webstore has grown to the point where the rescue has support with no struggle. We routinely have enough funds to cover the cost of operation and have even managed to set aside the humble beginnings of a down payment for that elusive farm. Please know that when you place an order through our store and round up the payment amount, the donation portion is counted separately. We hope to have an actual total figure to post about after this year's tax filings. Until then have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year.

Happy March!

For the month of February, five (5) chinchillas were adopted and four (4) chinchillas were surrendered. 

Fairly often we get in cases of chinchillas who chew their own fur. Barbering, as it's called, is a stress reaction. RARELY is it actually a genetic cause although chins who are genetically inclined to chew their fur are more likely to do so when under stress than those who come from genetic lines that don't show this behavior. Let me clarify, the genetic component is a trigger, not a cause. Anyway, I want to share with you the causes and cures for fur chewing as we have come to understand it.

We actually love getting in fur chewed chins. They put the "rescue" in Chinchilla Rescue and make fantastic cover stories. ;) Here is one of our more notable before and after situations. 

This trio of girls came to us in this condition:

They were overcrowded in a cage too small for even a single chin, with all metal ledges, ramps and a wire cage bottom. They had no place to hide and the height of the cage was too low to allow them to survey their area. We upgraded their cage, gave them one more than twice the size (especially in height) included wooden ledges, lots of places to hide, and unlimited access to a wide variety of chew toys.

Fur chewing chins tend to be nervous pickers, so the best chew toys for them are the soft, shreddy type. Giving them all hard chew toys "that will last longer" actually makes the problem worse. Fur chewers are showing their need when they pluck and shred their fur and that of their cagemates. If you only listen, they will tell you what they desire!

With this particular group, we learned that they loved vine products and fibrous hays. Our Edible Cage Garlands, Hugs & Kisses Garlands, Herbal Bunnies, Spiders(!) Chinchworms and Pinata chew toys were very popular with them.

We also learned that they viewed their food bowl as half empty, not half full. A half empty bowl caused them to become nervous and start chewing again. Since their former home was inconsistent in their care, they never knew when their food supply would run out. Within a few weeks of steady, regular care, their fur began coming back in again. When chinchilla fur grows back, it comes in patchy and uneven, like this:

Some people advocate that daily, out of cage playtime as mandatory for chinchilla well being. I'd like to debunk that. Interaction with our pet chinchillas should be a pleasant one, not a daily chore! In actuality, chinchillas view their home as their safe haven. (Assuming their cage is large enough and properly equipped). Obviously a small cage does not afford them the necessary exercise or stimulation. OVERSTIMULATION can contribute to stress that leads to fur chewing. Some chinchillas thrive on out of cage playtime, others become nervous wrecks. Once again it's very important to know your pet and their individual preferences. In the case of the three girls, they had zero out of cage playtime while at our rescue. They did, however, have basic care with particular attention to their particular needs. After a few months, the girls fur was completely grown in and they were ready for adoption. How's this for a happy ending?

Chinchilla with Dreadlocks

When surrender chins come to Whimsy's, they (and their cages) arrive in various states of condition.

This special case came in with chinchilla-size dreadlocks hanging from his back and sides. These knots can develop on chins with especially dense coats when new fur grows and tangles in the old fur during a priming (shedding) cycle. Rolling in clean dust serves the purpose of removing old, loose fur as well as oils and foreign particles in the new fur.

Without regular bathing, the knots can grow so large that they require a special grooming comb (typically used when preparing a chin for shows) to remove them. This is not a store-bought flea comb. It is specially made for thick chinchilla fur, with teeth needle-sharp to separate the super fine hairs. One such chinchilla stars in our latest video... it's a chinchilla makeover! Watch the transformation.

It'll take another couple of months for the resulting patches to grow back in completely. Check back later for before/after pictures.

New Arrivals!

We have new arrivals!

Let's see...our last girl chin from the Northern Virginia mass surrender in January proved to be pregnant. She had a single male kit earlier this week. It is unfortunate that the little mommy didn't have a girl to stay with her. While she was suspected pregnant, our efforts to bond her with another female rescue went unsuccessful. We're hoping the increase in hormones is to blame as we carefully consider who might get along with this black velvet girl when she weans her little boy. 

The little guy will have plenty of playmates to choose from, though!  The chins that came in from the Saluda mass surrender of 17 had a group of 5 adult females with 2 kits sharing a cage with a single adult male (a chin we lovingly named Don Juan).  Another one of the females of that bunch gave birth to a little boy, too.

And here is where the "rescue" part of our rescue work comes in...

...We also received a pair of adult males who were surrendered after their owner became overwhelmed by their medical issues. The owners did their best to treat the little guys. But after a week and a half of hand feeding, and the loss of one already, they sought our help. We discovered a pretty serious hair ring on the penis of one chin who had started chewing the tip off in his effort to release the band. His fur was encrusted with mucus and old food and he has some nasal and eye discharge. No wonder his owner was overwhelmed!

Hand feeding can be a very messy task and the little guy had the remains of those efforts stuck in his fur. We really had no choice but to water bathe him. NOT RECOMMENDED EXCEPT UNDER EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES.

Please send healing wishes their way and for their surrendering owners as these boys continue on their road to recovery. We'll have more updates after our veterinarian has a chance to look into their more serious nasal and eye discharge issues.