Posts tagged personality
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.

Happy February!

For the month of January, eleven (11) chinchillas were surrendered and seven (7) chinchillas were adopted. As usual, we had bunches and bunches of chins visiting for the holidays while their two-footed pets went on vacation. During this time we actually received multiple requests for matchmaking to enlarge the already happy families. New chin owners quickly discover whether or not a chinchilla is the right pet for them. Some people end up expanding their herd, while others decide to bow out and re-surrender their new pets. It’s sad, but a true fact of rescue work.

We all carry preconceived ideas about how life will be with a pet chinchilla. Someone who has owned one before assumes all chins act like their first pet. Someone who has never owned a chin may mistakenly think they are all cuddly, warm balls of delight. Chins each come with their own, individual personality and temperament, but chinchillas all share some very basic qualities. They are prey animals, so are prone to a flight (run away) response. Sensitive individuals may take this behavior personally.  Please know that a chin who runs away from you is not rejecting you. They’re just doing what is natural. Some chinchillas are born with a more inquisitive nature. Those make the best pets. A chinnie who eagerly comes forward for a treat, scratch on the head, or out for playtime is a joy to have. 

Another part of the joy of owning a new pet is in personalizing your relationship. Adoptive chinchilla owners often ask, “Is it ok if I change my chinchilla’s name?” For the most part, chinchillas do not respond to the sound of their name. (We have a couple of chinchillas here who would beg to differ.) In general though, your pet chinchilla is most likely to respond to certain tone of voice or to the sound of the treat bag opening!

Some chinchillas seem to absolutely bloom in the care of one person as compared to another and it doesn’t always have to do with quality of care. Remember your grade school experiments where you were instructed to provide the exact same water levels, light, food, etc. for a plant, but were instructed to sing to, love on and think happy thoughts towards one plant, and ignore the other? The atmosphere in which a pet chinchilla lives can also affect their temperament and health.

When you adopt a chinchilla, it’s the beginning of a whole new relationship. If changing the chinnie’s name helps to solidify that relationship, then we give it a thumbs up. And if your chinnie comes when called, you know you have a winner.

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:
What Kind of Pet Owner are You?

We know all types of pet owners;  

  • Those who purchase a baby animal and get rid of it after the maternal glow is gone.
  • Those who painstakingly research before they add a non-human family member to the home.
  • Those who inherit a pet from another family member or friend.
  • Hardcore pet owner turned animal activist.
  • The infamous collector who dives into snatching up several of the pet Du jour. (We call these the 0-60 in 30 crowd).
  • The "pet is part of the family" group.
  • The “I'm closer to my pet than my human family” group.
  • Quiet and reserved who care for their pets but don’t necessarily shove animal love in your face bunch.

The biggest question of all is: do you consider the needs of the pet before those of your own? Humans are totally autonomous, but the animals depend on us. We give them food, water, shelter, companionship and a clean, stimulating environment… or do we? How much consideration do you give your pet in those areas? We hope that when people seek to adopt a rescue chinchilla, they endeavor to give it the best possible home. Do your motives measure up?

Happy April!

For the month of March, thirty-four (34!) chinchillas were surrendered, and twelve (12) were adopted. 

Last month we had the Montgomery County mass surrender, plus our "usual" number of surrenders on top of that. On average, this type of mass influx seems to happen two or three times per year. We are very fortunate to have met so many kindhearted people who are interested in providing a loving home for the chinchillas in our care. And the outpouring of support by store orders, food and supplies donations and even monetary ($) donations has been a blessed relief.

The mass group has been doing very well since they've arrived. We've moved all the females into a huge baby safe cage where they can continue living together while on maternity watch. One female has already produced kits; one boy, one girl. The babies weighed in at the typical 41 and 44 grams. Considering the size and condition of the mother, this is quite miraculous! 

Four of the Montgomery boys have been adopted to two different homes. We have also learned just which of the boys love or hate each other and have divided them according to their preferences. At this time, we have two pairs and one group of 4 left, plus about 20 or so other chins who are waiting to meet their future families. 

Why adopt a rescue? 

These chinchillas depend on us to keep them comfortable, fed and loved. Usually, when chinchillas are surrendered, they have passed the adorable, but crazy baby stage and settled into their personalities. By that time the former owners have either lost interest, developed allergies, or had some sort of life-changing event which caused them to have to give up their pets. The little critters deserve a second chance! Baby cuteness is what makes pet stores thrive, but that period of time is very, very short. With and animal that lives up to 20 years, that opportunity for adoption is like a blink of an eye.

When you adopt from us, we provide a no kidding, honest assessment of their personalities and potential.  We also present a crash course in chin care and handling, with lifetime support. We make sure each adoptive home is properly equipped to ensure a full and happy life for the fuzzbutts, but the rest is up to you.

Now who is up to the challenge?