Posts tagged holiday
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 December?

For the month of November, two (2) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. Christmas is just around the corner and we're eagerly anticipating the start of a new year. Thanksgiving came and the chinnies received an extra special gift that day from one of our chinnie friends. Thank you George and family for your continued support and generous surprises.

Now. We have some very, very important news to share. The people from the Rock Spring Farm contest that we entered to win the farm, contacted us the day before Thanksgiving to let us know that our essay was chosen as one of the finalists. In the next sentence, however, we read that the target number of entries did not come in, so the contest is canceled.

*cue panicked music*

Pan out on person, hanging off the edge of a cliff?

Zoom in on hands outstretched... reaching... reaching towards a saviors hand...fingertips barely touching?

...then plummeting off the edge.

Yup. That's how Whimsy feels right about now. It's been rather depressing to say the least. (Actually, there was a day or two of hysterical sobbing). It's one thing to learn the contest is over and we didn't win. It's quite another thing to learn we were one of the "chosen ones" and had a very VERY good chance at winning.

But the saga continues. The owners have extended an offer to purchase the property at a reduced price. So, if anyone happens to have a spare $615,000 that they don't need, just let us know.

The property has a rental cottage that would help apply towards the mortgage payment. We also learned that some of the contestants have expressed the willingness to donate their entry fee to help someone from the contest purchase the farm. If everyone from the contest donated their entry fee, it would make a HUGE down payment. We have been talking with a mortgage lender and are considering starting a Go Fund Me page to help with this dream--but Whimsy thinks that's kinda tacky. What do y'all think?

Happy December!

For the month of November, six (6) chinchillas were surrendered and ten (10) chinchillas were adopted. It looks like the bio pages for the adoptables are working well.

Of the six chinnies surrendered, two pairs were ones that were previously adopted from us. It seems that 3 years is the average span of time a newbie chin owner keeps his or her pets before deciding whether they are the right pet for them. It is unfortunate, but even with careful consideration sometimes you just don't know if a human/pet relationship is a permanent one. It is disheartening to think about...

*shakes melancholy feeling off depressive mind-scape*

Ok, so on a more positive note, we know many, many more fantastic chin moms and dads who totally spoil their fur babies. When people submit orders to our web store, it's easy to see which people truly give their pets everything they would possibly need. Funny, but it seems that those who simply provide only the bare basic necessities are the first ones to give their chinchillas up....

G'ah! Back you depressive thought!

Ok, we're going to offer some mutual support for those who support our rescue. We like to be a part of the "pamper your pet" crowd. So in honor of Cyber Monday, with every order of $50 or more, Whimsy will include a special surprise. Now wouldn't you like to know what that is? But we'll let you in on a little secret, we do this year round, not just as a silly marketing gimmick. ;)

Happy February!

For the month of January, eleven (11) chinchillas were surrendered and zero (0) chinchillas were adopted. Ouch! We cannot recall ever having a month of no adoptions. It's not entirely surprising though considering Christmas just passed and everyone is financially wiped out after the post-holiday spending frenzy.

We've gone ahead and reached out to the local pet magazine with an article proposal about owning chinchillas. We hope this will spark some interest, dispel some misconceptions, and get people thinking about adopting again. Here is our first draft. 

Exotic Pets: Is a Chinchilla Right For You?

Fluffy, cute, bouncy bundles of awwwww.  Who could resist the adorableness of a pet chinchilla? There are many things to consider when deciding if a chinchilla is a good match for you and your family. Handling, feeding, and other care requirements are chinchilla-specific and not necessarily rodent-general.

Handling a chinchilla requires some finesse. In general, a chinchilla is a hyperactive pet, not prone to cuddles. Their rib structure is especially delicate, so handling a chinchilla is more like allowing them to perch safely on a forearm rather than holding them close and tight. The best way to interact with a chinchilla is to allow them to use you as a playground, not force them into submission of snuggles. 

As much as a chinchilla looks like a rabbit, the dietary requirements are radically different. A chinchilla’s natural habitat is the Andes Mountains in South America, which is a high desert biome. A desert biome is not necessarily hot, but it is dry. This strictly limited moisture means the vegetation that grows there is naturally bland, not lush. Therefore, a chinchilla’s diet should be high in fiber, low in protein with no fats and very little natural sugars. High quality pellets offer a simple, easy method of feeding, but are considered a “soft” food. Soft foods provide calories, vitamins and minerals, but do not offer proper wear for a chinchilla’s ever-growing teeth.

Offering fresh vegetables and fruits can kill a chinchilla quickly, as these high-moisture foods cause a gassy buildup known as bloat. Since chinchillas cannot pass gas, this buildup of pressure will literally cause the intestines to explode. Even offering vegetables in moderation is a very dangerous practice.

In actuality, dried hays like timothy, orchard and alfalfa are the ideal food for chinchillas. Hays and dried grasses offer these hindgut fermenters the fiber necessary for proper digestion, as well as exercise for their teeth and jaws. Because a chinchilla’s teeth keep growing, they need ultra high fiber foods and chew toys to keep them properly worn and trim. With this in mind, chew toys are necessities, not luxury items. 

When contemplating a chinchilla’s habitat (cage) it is important to consider the size, shape and accessories. A proper cage setup should be quite large. The minimum cage size required for a pet chinchilla is 2’x2’x2’ or 8 cubic feet per animal. In their native habitat, chinchillas live in herds. For the benefit of the animal, it is best to keep them in same-gender groups. Single gender groupings discourage breeding and mating fights.  Since a male chinchilla can smell a female in heat up to a mile away, it is ideal to keep just one gender of chinchilla in a home. Littermates usually make the best companions.

Chinchillas live more like mountain goats than ground animals, so a cage taller than its footprint with plenty of staggered ledges is most natural. This allows the chinchilla to choose a safe height from which to survey their environment. Cage ledges should be made of kiln-dried pine. Wooden ledges double as a platform and a safe chewing alternative. Plastic or metal ledges, shelves and ramps run the risk of an intestinal impaction or tooth break. Wire bottom cages or platforms also pose a risk of bumblefoot (ulcerative pododermatitis) or leg fracture.

Another housing consideration; is your home equipped with air conditioning? Chinchillas cannot stand temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If they are actively playing, even 75 degrees is dangerously hot. Chinchillas overheat quickly which can cause permanent brain damage or death. Young chinchillas cannot regulate their body temperature as well as an adult and are especially sensitive to heating and over exhaustion.

Does anyone in your home have allergies to dust or pollen? Chinchillas are NOT hypoallergenic pets! One of the top five reasons why we receive chinchilla surrenders is due to allergies of their owners, or someone else living in the home. Chinchillas keep clean by rolling in special volcanic dusty sand. This material is highly irritating to those prone to respiratory and skin issues. Additionally, chinchillas require loose hays, grasses, herbs and other foods that tend to harbor a variety of pollens. Their bedding, if not cleaned at least weekly, is a breeding ground for bacteria and molds. 

The last two care requirements are perhaps the most important; can you provide the funding for emergency vet care, and is your temperament compatible with a chinchilla’s? Chinchillas are highly sensitive animals. Being an exotic pet brings with it exorbitant vet costs. The average cost of a vet visit ranges from $75 for a wellness check, up to several thousand dollars for a leg amputation or casting, tooth trim with x-rays, or other emergency such as surgery to remove an intestinal impaction, spay for a retained placenta or dead kit, or intervention for a rectal or uterine prolapse.

The personality of the potential owner is a very big indicator of whether a chinchilla is a good choice of pet. Are you responsible? Can you keep a commitment? Are your feelings easily hurt? Do you have the dexterity to catch and handle an energetic pet? Do you have the patience to work with an animal that is typically not one that enjoys handling? Have you considered that the life span of a chinchilla is up to 20 years? Can you accommodate the needs of a live animal long term?

Chinchillas can make the most amazing pets, but they are not ideal for everyone. Pet chinchillas are at the mercy of their owners to provide them with adequate handling, nutrition, housing and attention. If you feel you are a good candidate as a chin parent, we would love to help answer your questions and match you up with the perfect new pal. This is Whimsy, and I approve this message. ;)

About the author: Amie Leigh V. (AKA Whimsy) is a single mother of four children, one of whom has autism. As part of her childrens’ homeschool curriculum they began a home based shelter affiliate and website devoted strictly to chinchillas and their care. Whimsy has owned chinchillas since her teen years and, with a natural love for animals and teaching has become a worldwide resource for chinchilla owners, vet clinics, pet stores and other outreach and education opportunities. Whimsy holds several college degrees in Psychology, Speech/Language Pathology and Special Education with an emphasis in Autism Studies and Behavior Management. She and her children volunteer at Princess Anne High School with the special needs students where together they make chew toys and cage accessories to fund and support the chinchilla rescue. Visit our website at:
Happy January!

Happy 2014 everyone!

For the month of December five (5) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. For the 2013 year we had a total of 111 chinchillas adopted! To date we have found homes for well over 400 furry little beings.

There has been a huge drive the past couple of years to not give live animals as Christmas gifts. This is due to the assumption that surprise gifts lose their appeal after a very short time. In actuality, this is the case year around and not just at Christmas time. We are saddened to see that many homeless animals are left homeless at a time when historically people tended to open their hearts and homes to rescue animals.

We have, however, met with some very nice families who have taken the choice to adopt seriously. We love when we hear of individuals who carefully consider the needs of the animal first and seek to gain a solid foundation and understanding of their chosen pet before they fall victim to an impulse buy. 

Still, much misinformation is readily available online and even in books. As much as we love to hear that people have done the research, often we hear the research gleaned is faulty, low quality, or just plain dangerous. While many hard-core chin folk hold their personal chin philosophies near and dear to their heart, some information is truly more about what is good and proper and not simply a matter of opinion.

Our archives offer a lot of good information and we do our best to provide a rationale. If you are seeking to adopt for the first time, or believe you are a seasoned chinchilla owner, you may be surprised to find that some practices are literally killing your pet with kindness. With this in mind, be prepared to have your belief system challenged.  We look forward to meeting you. *insert maniacal laughter here*