Are You an Extreme Pet Owner?

Well hello everyone!

The year is flying by and I’m totally guilty of not adding monthly blog posts. Now that we’re actually operating a “working farm” there is a lot less down time. This also means that scheduling pickup orders is very, VERY difficult. Also, after more than a decade of posts, it’s been hard to come up with anything new and exciting.

But first, just a quick recap of how things have been going with the rescue. We’ve had 28 chinchillas surrendered and 22 chinchillas adopted so far. We have at least a dozen chins available for adoption. We may have to break down and bring back the bios pages. Thoughts?


Aside from the chinnies, we’ve been working sporadically to groom the land for the orchards and trellis systems for our organically grown toy parts. The soil here is rich, but we have to actually wrestle it from the native trees. The new heat/AC system is working great. The air conditioned workshop has been absolutely wonderful. It allows us to store fresh cut limbs out of the sun and rain while we process the various batches. The office got a facelift and finally got baseboard and other trim installed. The wall in the rescue room that had ugly OSB now has some beautiful bead board overlay.

Ok, so now that we’ve got the updates out of the way, let’s move on to something more serious: Complacency vs. Neuroticism

After the honeymoon period of getting a new pet ends, we see where individuals sometimes morph into extremes. Those extremes would be complacency, where basic care or consideration for the pet’s natural inclination is ignored. On the other extreme is neuroticism where every minute detail of the pet’s behavior, food and water consumption, shed cycles, weight loss or gain, etc are strictly monitored. Neither extreme is helpful for the pet.


With complacency, it’s not uncommon for owners to run out of food or get nothing but bare basics. The focus is on what is most beneficial for the owner, not the pet. Expense and mess are their primary concerns. They allow pets to play unsupervised. Cage cleaning is ignored until it becomes stinky, filthy, or excessively chew worn. Chew toys are left until all that remains is wire, if they even have chew toys. Mats and fur knots develop, sometimes to the point of dreadnoughts. Fractures go untreated until the chinchilla chews off a limb.

Recently we got word from an individual (name withheld, but story and pictures shared with permission). The owner had a young chinchilla and kitten who were raised together. Both got along well and even “played” together. After a few years, the owner figured the natural instincts of predator and prey were nullified. Then the inevitable happened. The cat mauled the chinchilla during out of cage playtime.

On the other extreme we see overly anxious owners. They tend to worry themselves sick over their pet. This does translate to the animal since our little fur babies can pick up on our emotions. An anxious owner can make their pet anxious, lose weight, slip fur, develop behavior problems, bark excessively, have loose stool, chew their fur, etc.

Bloat (gas) in a chinchilla literally causes the intestines to burst.

Bloat (gas) in a chinchilla literally causes the intestines to burst.

The problem with being overly anxious is the tendency to second guess, doubt and commiserate with others. Internet forums seem especially attractive then. Veterinarians have a difficult job when it comes to dealing with pet owners. Many times the professionals “do something” just to appease the owner. Here is an example that we actually see quite often. Chin goes to the vet for XYZ. Vet prescribes prophylactic antibiotics. The drug then causes gastric stasis, so vet prescribes other meds to stimulate the gut, chin then bloats, more meds added to treat bloat, side effects are compounded, now the belly is full of sweetened medications, chin stops eating entirely, owner panics, vet then prescribes hand feeding, more trips to the vet. More tests. cha-ching!$$

The more anxious an owner is, the more they want to intervene. Basically, these types of owners are guilty of a form of overkill. The more they intervene, the worse the situation becomes. Folks, this is especially true if a chinchilla is ill. The body has an amazing ability to self-heal. Sometimes we need to step back and allow that to happen.

Do you find yourself in either of the two extremes? My advice to both is simple: Step up your game, or relax. The hard part is figuring out when to do either. For those who are anxious, hopefully we’ve been able to provide a bit of no-nonsense advice. For those who are complacent…well, you’re probably not reading this anyway. XD

Whimsy LeighComment
Welcome 2019!

Happy January everyone! And welcome to 2019!

For the month of December eleven (11) chinchillas were surrendered and nine (9) chinchillas were adopted. We had a few mixed gender groups come in towards the end of the year, so the females are all on maternity watch. Thank you to those who have stepped in to sponsor them.

We’re off to a great start this year. The chinchillas are all thriving at the new place. We’re seeing some good, healthy weight gain on the ones who came in underweight. Keep paws crossed that the weight gain is not due to pregnancies.


We were able to reunite or pair many of the single chins with a same gender cagemate. One fur chewed single in particular is happily bonded with another and has stopped chewing her fur. We’re glad to see that behavior was a stress reaction and not an ingrained behavior.

If you follow us on facebook you will have seen the more up to the minute posts about surrenders, adoptions, and other news. Facebook has changed their platform again, so you may or may not have seen the coloring contest we held earlier in January. It was so fun seeing the variety of creative entries! But when it came to making the final choice, Whimsy just could not. It was impossible to to pick one over the other when it came to comparing a beautifully shaded digitalized coloring and a fantastically intricate hand colored entry. So, we ended up with split winners. Our winners Kristy and Angie each won a gift box of goodies from our webstore. I hope they like the selection.


Another bit of good news for the new year is that we have a brand-new central heat and air system in the building. Last month’s post told of how the system was 18 years old and could not be patched together to work for us anymore. We got about a half dozen shockingly high estimates for a new system that we simply could not afford. Neither were we willing to finance it! Now the very best news is that we connected with an HONEST guy who agreed to install a new system for half of what the other guys quoted. The new system has been working great all month with no problems. So it looks like we found another resource for someone to do some more random repairs and improvements around here. Saving half on the new heat/air system almost makes up for the crooks to ripped us off over the drywall job. So that’s the latest news. Now, you want to hear about some of the SMH 2018 highlights?

It’s no secret that Whimsy distrusts “professionals”, particularly veterinarians. Fact is, they are human and prone to mistakes. Too many professionals, however, rely on their degree to prove their expertise rather than experience. Even worse, when a vet gives their opinion as if it were fact! Case in point, a vet told a young man who surrendered to us that his m/f chinchillas were unlikely to breed because they were bonded! Whaaaaat????? Never one to miss an opportunity to be awkward, yes I did blurt out that his vet is an idiot.

Chinchilla MALE. Picture shows space between the anus at the top and the penis below.

Chinchilla MALE. Picture shows space between the anus at the top and the penis below.

It is not unusual for a vet to miss a diagnosis. On the flip side, we have seen vets over react. For example, simple dust build-up on ears led to a test for mites during a well visit. We have also learned of instances where vets would provide false hope to a client and offer surgeries, blood tests, CPR! It is heartbreaking when a person’s despair is used against them to drain their finances. Now, no one wants to be accused of giving up without trying every possible intervention. So in a sense those medical professionals are really covering their own….well….you know.

Chinchilla FEMALE. Picture shows no space between the anus at the top and the urethral cone at the bottom. Most often mis-identified as males due to the fact that the urethral cone looks like a teeny, tiny penis.

Chinchilla FEMALE. Picture shows no space between the anus at the top and the urethral cone at the bottom. Most often mis-identified as males due to the fact that the urethral cone looks like a teeny, tiny penis.

We typically find that incoming surrenders are gender mis-isentifed. It’s especially bad when a ”vet confirmed” gender is actually wrong. This past year we had a vet tech surrender a pair of chins to us telling Whimsy that the veterinarian had to shave one of their bums looking for testicles! I don’t know if the veteranarian thought the anus was teeny tiny testicles, but “Bob” turned out to be “Babette”. Oh! and an experienced breeder surrendered a pair of chins thinking the “big muscular one” was a male. Nope. Wrong again. Both were females. But the ignorance disguised as expertise is even more broad than getting a gender wrong.

Another vet online recommends giving hard rock maple to chew (which is toxic to chinchillas). And another “exotic’s specialist” advocates feeding leafy greens to chinchillas…which causes bloat and diarrhea.

But, not all veterinarians are this way. We have had the pleasure of meeting a few who not only listen, but collaborate with us. One notable professional is Dr. David from Sherwood Pet Health. There they have a new brand of feed pellets that come in adult and baby formulas. He also offers an alternative to Critical Care brand of hand feeding recovery food. Sherwood Pet Health has a variety of supplemental wafers for urinary support, digestive support, immune support, joint support and extra vitamin C . Looks like Oxbow has a rival. You can check it out for yourself here:


But anyway, the previous rant just to say that a veterinarian’s advice/opinion/suggestion/diagnosis, etc. may or may not be correct. Being an informed owner will help when it comes to partnering with your chosen professional. Being informed will also help prevent costly (or deadly) decisions. Wherever possible we do what we can to share information with you, our readers, to help you become equipped to deal with issues as they arise. Our new website has a search feature that will take you to a topic without having to wade through the last decade’s worth of blog entries. Feel free to email Whimsy if there is missing information or if you have a question not already addressed on site. If you find any information helpful, we’d like to know. We especially love when people show their appreciation by spreading the word about us, the rescue and our webstore. Hmmm…while you’re at it, go ahead the take a look at the goodies in our store. It’s about time to restock on chew toys and freshen up the ledges, right? 😉