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?

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. Just...no.

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 October!

For the month of September, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. We still have a waiting list for incoming surrenders as we struggle to reclaim space so that Whimsy's family can once again have a clothes washer and dryer in the house. At this time we have taken in 26 for the year, and 28 have been adopted. We still have rescues who have been with us from previous years who seriously need a permanent home of their own.

We recently softened our adoption contract. Some families have questioned the strict policy of returning adoptive chins to our facility if the adoptive owner could not keep them for any reason. They have inquired about passing ownership of the chinchillas from one sibling to another. For this reason we now have a "right of first refusal" clause. Each situation is unique, but not necessarily uncommon. Our priority is to ensure the chinnies once in our care continue to receive the same, if not better, lovingkindness that we promised them. And speaking of adoptable chinchillas...

We've had six rescue females on maternity watch since the summer who have successfully passed their four months mandatory time here. Only one of them had a litter. The result was a kit with one head and two bodies. It did not survive. We're excited to announce that the girls are now all available for adoption! We have a trio, a pair and a single with potential to bond with another female. Watch and wait for upcoming information about them. *cough* We have been very slow about keeping the available chins' information up to date on our website and we generally have many more available than we have listed. Please do NOT contact Whimsy inquiring about a certain color. While we understand the attraction, it is frustrating to see so many standard colored chins left behind simply because of the color of their fur! I can totally see a meme here...grey lives matter...all lives matter...

Reflecting back on the earlier statement about reclaiming space...the essay contest to win the farm has extended their submission date. The new date is October 31 where entries must be postmarked by the end of this month. Many of our loyal customers and chinnie friends have inquired as to how they can support our dream to win this property. The contest is based on skill and heart. We have submitted our essay which outlines our plans, confirms our strengths, and highlights our needs. If any of you are so inclined, you are welcome to submit an essay (plus entry fee and forms) on our behalf. Every entry counts towards their 5000 entry goal. *Sshhhhh* So even if your essay is secretly for your own benefit, it will still help ensure the contest runs. ;) Here's the handy-dandy link with all the information one could possibly need. Rock Spring Farm Essay Contest

Good luck and happy writing!

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.

Happy August!

For the month of July, two (2) chinchillas were surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted.  Last month we turned away a whopping 19 requests for surrender! We've found that our adoptions have dropped sharply since our lawyer stepped in to give our contract more "bite". So we're looking in to softening the rules at bit. Watch for upcoming changes in our contract and please, spread the word about adopting recycled pets.

Now, for those of you who already own a chinchilla or several, let us challenge your knowledge. We never take seriously those who claim to be long term chin owners. We have learned the hard way that radically different degrees of knowledge exist within the small subculture of those who own chinchillas (or any other animal for that matter). The internet is full of misinformation. We hope to dispel some myths and give good, sound reasons for our advice.

With that being said, we received an interesting email from someone this week who erroneously believed that vine chew toys were "treats". In a nutshell (no pun intended) a "treat" would be any food item that a chinchilla would not normally find in abundance in their natural habitat.

A chinchilla's natural habitat is high desert. Desert is a biome that simply refers to the degree of precipitation, not degree of heat! A desert biome grows vegetation that is high in fiber with very little moisture. So a chinchilla diet should also be high in fiber, low protein, with practically zero fats and sugars. If your chinnie is getting plump off of high sugar/ high fat treats, you run the risk of killing it with kindness by contributing to fatty liver disease. If you choose to purchase processed treats, at the very least be cognizant of the ingredients list! The closer to single ingredient items you can give, the better. The infamous pet store fare (certain flower-type green disks) generally contains a list of ingredients that clearly is NOT healthy for your pet.

With this in mind, we've made a handy-dandy food pyramid to show you the types and amount of foods your chinchilla should have. We would strongly prefer nothing from the uppermost level of the pyramid. This is the "treat" section. But if you must, remember: the smaller the section of the pyramid equals offering smaller amounts to your chin. 

The largest section at the bottom contains a list of food items that your chin can eat without restriction and is actually naturally healthy for them. Items from the lower portion of the list can excite your chin as a healthy alternative to treats if you hand feed them. It's all in the mindset. We know of one person whose chins get excited about wooden clothespins! So study the list, be smart and enjoy!