Posts tagged matchmaking
Happy April!

Happy April everyone!


With the move to our new facility taking much longer than anticipated, we’ve had to bend a little with regard to surrenders and adoptions. Of course we’d much rather see chins go to happy homes than to have to take them in. 😉 Currently we have more than a dozen rescues waiting for their own special person. We have two new sets of females who appear to be receptive to other chinchillas. They would be excellent candidates for someone who has a lonely female and would like a small herd (trio) of their own. Trios are great! With a trio, should something horrible happen to one chin, two are left to console each other.

We had a bit of an emergency situation this month where one of our follower’s lost one half of a pair. The remaining chin stopped bathing, was uninterested in food, and just generally withdrew. This is an emergency situation! In a case where a chinchilla mourns the loss of a cagemate, they can literally die of loneliness. This is especially true of chins who have had the benefit of a cagemate. Some chins respond better to a loss and thrive….but it’s just unnatural for a chinchilla to be alone.

Which reminds me, we often hear people ask whether a chinchilla should go through a mourning period before introducing him or her to a new friend. The answer is “NO!”. Chinchillas are not people. They have no social need to show their respect for a dearly departed. They do not share the same psychological perspective as a human.


When considering the needs of an animal, one must consider their needs as a species. This includes food choices, shelter accommodations, how we approach training, stimulation and socialization. As herd animals, chinchillas benefit from the proximity of those of their kind…assuming those in the social group are compatible!

Males, with their instinctive drive to procreate, are much more difficult to pairbond. This is especially true if both males and females are in the same home. We have found that the brevicaudata chinchilla, the ones who are considered more “show” quality and have the big, fat body style,  are the easiest to keep in groups. The typically pet store chins and breeder cast offs  (more likely lanigera and costina) tend to be more aggressive towards their own kind and difficult to group.


Again, working with their psychological framework, we can give them the benefit of matchmaking when we utilize spay/neuter surgery. This allows us to pairbond otherwise alpha males with a female or two and gives them a much better chance of adoption.

Neuter surgery can be expensive and is not without risks. However, the benefits far outweigh the risk. To date, we have had but a single negative surgical outcome. Please know that neutering a chinchilla will not change their behavior as it does with other animals such as canines, felines and equines. Neuter surgery simply makes it impossible for them to reproduce. In the case of individuals who have both male and female chins, it is the responsible way to keep chinchillas without having to segregate them in separate cages.

As a rescue facility, of course we advocate responsible pet ownership. We encourage chinnie pet people to choose a single gender pair or group,  OR, to choose castration. And while we’re on the subject, those who think they can be quick enough to intervene during m/f playtime to obstruct a possible breeding are fooling themselves. It takes a millisecond for a male to impregnate a female chinchilla. Don’t be part of the problem.

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should (Happy November!)

For the month of October, one (1) chinchilla was surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted. We still have a waiting list for surrenders and adoptions continue to be low. We have had quite a large number of people come to us for our matchmaking service which is both helpful and frustrating. It's helpful in the sense that adoptable chins are going home, but frustrating that only the most docile chins are eligible. We have lots and LOTS of single males who are friendly, but can't be caged with another chin who absolutely need good, permanent homes. *sigh*

Anywho...the topic of this month's post is: 

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

For some strange reason, this month we've experienced quite a large number of shocking bits of information. All of it has come with the disclaimer that the chins "never had very much", "it was an emergency", "they do fine", "it was never for very long", or Whimsy's personal favorite, "I didn't know". Those are just some of this month's highlights. Welcome to our world.

We are always wary of people who claim they have researched chin care or who get advice from pet stores. The internet is full of chin-information, much of it simply reflects the beliefs of the writer who is seeking to justify their practices. Yes, this includes our website as well. However, we will never advocate anything that is contrary to what is closest to natural for ours and your pets. For example, even though we continuously stress the importance of a highfiber/lowprotein/nofat/nosugar diet, we still see chins who are fed dried fruits, nuts, and yogurt candy drops!

Here's another example, the picture of this pet store treat specifies that it's for chinchillas. The ingredients, however, state that this plastic-like, carrot shaped lump is made of rice, pineapple, starch, palm oil, gelatin and artificial colors.

Pet stores advocate a plethora of dangerous items, including food, treats, plastic exercise balls, hanging wire hay balls, etc. Your job is to weed through the bling and choose the best. (Which is another reason why our web store began. We do our very best to offer affordable, healthy items! Don't even get me started on those who offer flavored and colored loofahs!)

Another big pet peeve are people who say their single chins do just fine alone. *nods* Yup, even we have chins kept in single cages...for their safety. Chins are herd animals and being alone is unnatural. However, if they are highly aggressive towards their own kind, there is no escape for the underdog in an attack, in a cage. We will always advocate for pairbonding same sex chins if they are receptive to it.

Moderation is key, but if we want to keep our fur babies healthy and safe, we will have to be wise about their care. As their guardians, we should ask ourselves whether a certain food or care practice is acceptable, or beneficial. *hint* Our goal is to encourage people to choose beneficial over acceptable.

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.

On Pairbonding.

Any time we mention chinchilla matchmaking on our Facebook page, we inevitably receive multiple requests for pairbonding help. Folks, it would take a book to explain our process. We actually have a unique, tried and true method that relies heavily on reading the subtle signs of chinchilla body language. It has taken almost a decade to develop and refine this skill. We carefully watch and learn the individual temperaments which gives Whimsy a good idea which chinchillas would be compatible.

Our pairbonding method generally takes 3 days and we like to keep a close eye on the new friendships for a full week. This helps to establish a good foundation of trust between them. If an original pairing doesn't show signs of promise within 3 days, we start all over again with another candidate. We know that if a bond doesn't occur within a week, it's not likely to happen at all. If a pairbonding is that difficult, it won't last! The slightest stressor or change can send an uptight chin into a fit of desperate attacks. Especially if the chins "eventually" grew to accept each other.

One of the key components of matchmaking is to never allow an attack to happen in the first place. If the chins develop bad feelings towards each other, this serves as a negative, downward spiral. Urine spraying among females is normal and helps to establish boundaries. Subtle nipping during nose sniffing does the same. Dominance mounting is fine only if the one being dominated submits. Otherwise a fight for power can occur. If two chins turn into a tumbling mass of fur, do NOT push the friendship.

Also, never, never, never hold one chin up to another to sniff noses! When chins nose sniff, one has to yield. This is impossible when one or the other is held hostage in a person's hands. Trying to let them sniff noses from your hands actually forces the held one to exhibit a stance of aggression. (In this picture we actually used a mother/daughter duo who are already tightly bonded.)

This week we're trying a radical effort to pairbond 6 females. Only two of them are co-bonded already. We have one rescue who came from a male/female pair, one female who was recently rejected by her long-term cagemate, a baby whose mommy passed away, and another single female who was previously bonded, but lost her cagemate. We knew the rescue and the attack survivor would need some careful attention. They were placed within close proximity of the most gentle girls to help ease them into the group. By day three they were ready to move into their new shared cage. Here they are exploring their new, triple stacked Critter Nation cage.

If you would like to utilize our matchmaking service, please see the link on our "Services" page. As matchmaking can be radically different with each chin, please do NOT email Whimsy for pairbonding advice. With any pair or grouping, there is always the chance that a chin will reject or be rejected by his or her cagemate. Be prepared to have separate cages if you have multiple chins. Our next update will be about when chins attack.

Happy July!

For the month of June we had a record breaking month. Eight (8) chinchillas were surrendered and a head-spinning twenty four (24!!) chinchillas were adopted. It was also a very good month for matchmaking. Nine of the chinnies adopted went as singles or pairs to be new friends for lonely single chinchillas of the same gender.

We did have some failed matchmaking sessions, however. Pair bonding is no sure thing. Even though chinchillas live in herds in the wild, they can, and do, kill each other if they are not compatible. The difference being, in the wild they can run far away from an attacker to escape. In the confines of a cage, non compatible animals lead to a deadly combination.

Because the mating instinct can lead to aggression and fighting for breeding rights, it is not advisable that people keep different genders of chins in the same home. Chinchillas can smell a female in heat up to a mile away. So you're fooling yourself if you think you can keep them safely in separate rooms. As evidenced by the high number of single boys for adoption, even our rescue has trouble keeping bonded males together. Only the most beta males can safely live together in a home where females also live.

Chinchilla matchmaking is a service we offer. The process is a tricky one and relies heavily on knowing and being able to recognize subtle chinchilla behavior cues. For this reason, as a general rule, we do not provide instructions on how to introduce chinchillas. Not to mention those dimwits who ask us for introduction help to allow for breeding. Seriously? Yes, there is such as thing as a stupid question. Asking an animal shelter for advice on how to introduce non-sterilized, opposite gendered animals will result in a scathing reply.