Chinchilla Shopping List

chinchilla-shopping-list

I remember when I rescued my chinchilla, Jasper. Jasper showed up at my doorstep in nothing but a tiny dog carrier. Yes, I said dog carrier! The woman who owned him lived in a van and had this poor little guy living in a tiny space not even big enough for a mouse! Anyway, before bringing this guy home I did some quick research and quickly made a shopping list of everything my new chinchilla was going to need. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find just one site that had all of the information that I needed! Luckily for me, I had a few hours before I was supposed to pick him up, so I did my shopping list research and away I went to purchase what I needed. I had to read five or six different articles to make a complete shopping list. I have typed up the results of that research into one resource for you. Below is my chinchilla shopping list.

The absolute bare minimum items that you will need include:

(1) Cage: Midwest Deluxe Critter Nation is the cage I use and recommend.

(2) Basic Accessories you will need include: 

(3) Travel Carrier – I prefer the 32.5-inch crate made by Prevue Pet Products or the 24-inch Super Pet Mfh Rabbit Cage  if you have a tight budget is acceptable.

 

In the rest of this article, I’ll give more info on toys your chinchilla will enjoy, supplements to keep him/her healthy, acceptable treats, and types of wooden chews you can provide.

 

Toys Your Chinchilla Will Enjoy

Please take a moment and read my full post about Best Toys And Exercise Wheel For Your Chinchilla.  It will really help you to make sure you get the right size wheel and don’t just buy according to the cute pictures on the front of the packages. Although some wheels show a chinchilla on the front of their packaging, doesn’t mean its safe for your chinchilla!  Here are the items which are suitable to leave in your chinchillas’ cage I generally recommend:

  • hanging parrot toys (Don’t forget to check that they are made from safe trees.)
  • sisal ropes (again designed for parrots, but chins love them)
  • pieces of pumice stone
  • some rabbit or large hamster toys
  • wood or branches, e.g. Safe woods are Apple Arbutus Ash, Aspen, Beech, Birch, Cottonwood, Crabapple, Dogwood, Elm, Fir, Hawthorn, Hazelnut, Larch, Magnolia, Manzanita, Mulberry, Kiln-Pine (not fresh pine), Pear, Poplar, and Sequoia.
  • stuffed Booda buddy

DIY Toys For Your Chinchilla

Make your own toys: It is not very hard to make hanging toys with wooden blocks and it is much cheaper to make them at home than buying them. You just need some wooden blocks, wires (or chains), wire cutters, and a drill. If you don’t have a drill, you can drive a nail through the blocks.

  • Branches: i.e. apple branches. Chinchillas love to chew apple and pear branches so I would highly recommend using these trees. Of course, you need to make sure that no chemicals and such have been used on the trees.
  • Empty toilet paper rolls: Chinchillas’ all time favorite! These are great to hide treats in.
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Plain cardboard boxes
  • Rocks: Rocks of different sizes that have been cleaned and boiled.

Tip! ~ I know I have listed many things above but take a look around your house. You will find things that would be great new toys for your chinchilla. Just watch for glue, tape, staples, etc. Common sense stuff.

Optional, But will help keep your Chinchilla healthy and happy!

Other items you may wish to purchase right away or could need in the future are listed below.

Treats

Treats which can be given are:

  • fruit, try fruits with seeds, not stones or pits, e.g. raisins, dried cranberries, dried strawberries, dried blueberries, dried rose hips, a banana chip, or a piece of apple, pear, a half of a fresh or frozen grape, or kiwi.
  • veg, e.g. piece of carrot, flaked peas, parsley, chard, romaine, a dandelion leaf (small and washed). Avoid anything gas forming, e.g. broccoli, cabbage.
  • dried herbs, if available you can pick herbs, then after washing them, hang them upside down (in bunches) in a warm area until they have completely dried out. Herbs suitable for chinchillas include oregano, comfrey, mint, nettle, dandelion, and raspberry leaves.
  • grain, e.g. rolled oats, oat grouts, healthy cereals low in sugar like Shredded Wheat, plain Cheerios or Cornflakes.
  • nuts and seeds, very sparingly – e.g. almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds
  • commercially prepared, e.g. chinchilla crackers (produced for chinchillas and available in the US & UK), a small piece of dry toast, or an alfalfa-based animal treat.
  • unsalted peanut in the shell, uncooked pasta…

 

Meds & First Aid

  • Acidophilus for balanced gut bacteria
  • Albon – Diarrhea Treatment
  • Antibiotic cream – For minor cuts
  • Baby Oat Cereal
  • Baby wipes
  • Charcoal – balances gut ph
  • Cheek retractor to check molars
  • Eye Wash
  • Gauze
  • Griseofluvin
  • Grooming Combs
  • High-calorie supplement for weak or sick Chins
  • Lavender oil for small abrasions or cuts
  • Lidocaine
  • Life Line helps with appetite
  • Lube
  • Medical tape
  • Ophthalmic Ointment
  • Pedialyte for Electrolyte dehydration
  • Powdered Goat Milk – kit formula
  • Shredded Wheat Biscuits – Diarrhea Treatment
  • Simethicone – For Bloat
  • Tinactin

Violet Chinchilla

violet-female

History of the Violet Chinchilla

Extract Taken from – Modern Chinchilla Fur Farming,
By – Willis D Parker, 1975

Known as the Sullivan Violet or Lavender.

WHITE-VIOLET chinchillaThis herd was originally in Rhodesia in about 1967 and in subsequent years, several of the mutant animals died when they were about half grown.
The rancher, sent them back to Dr. Caraway, of Fort Worth, Texas, who was secretary of MCBA. They appeared to be of two different shades of Violet or Lavender with quite a nice fur. They were encouraged to continue their mutant program, and send more casualties when they occurred. They next went to South Africa and were subsequently purchased by Lloyd Sullivan of Oakhurst, California. He has now ( 1975 ) had them in the United States for three to four years and had considerably improved their appearance. They have a beautiful white belly. They are Lavender or Violet in color. They have a pinkish, Violet appearance. They are well veiled and have a nice texture, and the underfur is the same color as the tipping. They have a thin, pale, lavender bar. At present, it seems to be the most promising of all the recessive mutations.

Working with the Violet

violet-wrap-chinchillaWhen you purchase your first Violet, you should automatically notice the difference in the strength of the fur. Even some of the best Violets that I have seen do just not have the density. But then, when venturing into breeding mutations, you tend to get used this problem. The fur is usually very fine and silky, and this makes it soft. However, what you do want to see in your violets, is the beautiful, distinctive white belly fur, that is usually such blue-white, that it glows at you.

Violets do come in different color phases – light, medium, and dark. Personally, I prefer the darker color phased Violets. You can, however, make your Violets even darker, by breeding a Touch of Velvet Violet. This is when you cross Black Velvet into your Violets and give them an even darker veiling. The most obvious way to tell the difference between a dark color phased Violet, and a Touch of Velvet Violet is by checking for the stripes on the front paws of the animal. Remember that any Chinchilla that has Black Velvet in it will have the stripes running diagonally across the front paws.

It is also possible to breed the recessive Violet to other dominant Mutations and produce different amazing effects by breeding Violet cross mutations. For example one of the most unusual looking colored chinchillas, that I have seen is the Violet / Beige Cross. This has also been described as the ‘Pearl’ Chinchilla. The reason being is that it reminds you of the ‘Mother of Pearl’ effect. Being that sometimes you look and the animal appears to be Violet with a hue of Beige, then you will look again and find the animal looks Beige with a hue of Violet. As unusual as this mutation may be, I have not yet viewed one that I would consider to be a quality animal. The combination of breeding the soft, fine fur of a Violet to a soft-furred Beige, carrying Violet, tends to mean that the offspring from this combination has very poor fur quality and also appear not to grow large, remaining at not much more than one pound in weight when reaching adulthood.

One of the other most distinctive looking mutations that have been derived from crossing with other dominant colors is the Violet/White cross. Again this animal is very exciting to view, being that most look like Mosaics, except that where the usual Mosaic would have grey patches, on a Violet/White cross, the colored patches showing against the White are Violet in color. The fur quality of these Mutations if bred from a good quality white does not appear to be so softly textured as that of the Beige/Violet Cross.

You can also work with using your recessives by breeding them to other recessives, but this does require a lot of space and many animals to reach a determined goal of a specific double recessively genes Chinchilla. For example, it is possible to work with Violet and Charcoal and breed an animal that due to the wrap around the color of the charcoal, turns out to be Violet all the way around, without the white belly fur. This similar effect can also be obtained by working the Violet with Ebony as well.

The only problems that you will encounter, maybe the loss in size and fur quality in subsequent litters when working with so many mutations. It is also possible that after many generations you can blank out some of the Violet colorings in the animals. It is therefore important to always follow the rule of breeding each subsequent generation with quality standards wherever possible, to keep the size and quality of your Violet lines.

How to breed your very own Violet, White Cross Chinchilla

1st – Violet bred to White – this combination will produce 50 % Standard Violet carriers and 50 % White Violet carriers. You need a White Violet Carrier
2nd – Breed the White Violet Carrier to a nonrelated Violet – this combination will produce the following offspring – 25 % Standard Violet carriers, 25 % White Violet carriers, 25 % Violets, and 25 % Violet/White Crosses.

Enjoy working with the Violet!

How To Tell If A Chinchilla Is Pregnant

How To Tell If A Chinchilla Is Pregnant

To the inexperienced eye, it is not always possible to detect whether a female Chinchilla is pregnant or not. Unless you were actually there at the time of mating, then it is difficult to detect and to work out when she will be due to litter. Hopefully, the following information will help to give you a clue as to whether she is definitely pregnant or not.

Possible Signs of Mating

How To Tell If A Chinchilla Is PregnantIf you have more than one male Chinchilla, you will find it fairly easy to ascertain whether a female is in heat or not. Of course, if you have more than one female, you will need to try to find out which female it is! Each male will appear excited and quite possible will start ‘chirping,’ while trying to mate with his prospective partner, even though she may not be in heat! Sometimes it is a lot easier if you just have one pair, to note that a mating has just taken place. It is always useful to count 111 days after you have seen your Chinchillas mating, as this will be the date that is she due to litter. If however, you note the pair mating again the following month, then it is safe to assume that she did not get pregnant the previous month and once again count on 111 days and mark it on your calendar. If you do not see mating again within a month or so, after the initial mating it is then very possible that your female is already one month into her pregnancy. After the mating, the telltale signs are, as follows…

  • Small pieces of fluff and fur on the floor of and under the cage.
  • The copulation plug or ‘ stopper’ as it is sometimes called may be found, but not always. This is a small waxy, white looking plug that after a successful mating the female will release, but sometimes this can get lost in debris under the cage. Or even eaten by the female.
  • If you are lucky enough to be nearby at the time of mating, when the male has finished, you will hear him let off a ‘hiccuping’ cry that you may never have heard before. After mating, is the only time that you will hear this unusual cry being emitted by the male.

Signs of Pregnancy

HowToTellIfAChinchillaIsPregnant-Pregnancy is normally difficult to detect before the female has reached 60 days. Then it is still not always that easy when you are not sure what you are looking for and if it is the first time that you have tried to check! Remember when checking your female, whom you believe to be pregnant, that she should be handled carefully, given good support to her whole body and be careful that she does not become stressed by the whole procedure. Listed below are some of the signs of pregnancy to look out for …

1. The nipples may appear pinker in color than usual and after approximately 60 days will become enlarged and longer in appearance. This should be noticeable by blowing the fur around the nipple area. After around 90 days or so into the pregnancy the nipples will change to red in color and will have doubled in length.
2. On or after around the first 60 days of your Chinchillas pregnancy, the abdomen will feel full and curved.
3. After 90 days or so, it is also possible, upon careful handling to feel the babies moving inside her. This is not always easy, especially if your female happens only to be having one baby. However, sometimes you can distinctly feel a ‘kick’ from one of her babies. Some experienced breeders can even detect how many babies a female is carrying. But I would not suggest that you feel around her stomach too much, as it could cause distress to the female and if handled incorrectly could even cause problems with the pregnancy.
4. You can also weigh your female monthly. The first month of the pregnancy you will not notice hardly any weight gain. But after the initial 30 days or so, you should start to notice a steady weight gain. Normally she will have gained approximately 50 grams or so by the time she reaches 60 days into her pregnancy. Obviously, her weight will keep on increasing until she finally litters. The amount of weight she puts on will obviously depend on how many babies she has grown inside of her. A good weight gain of perhaps 150 to 200 grams will possibly mean multiple litters.

Good luck with the little ones when they arrive!

How To Handle A Chinchilla Mom And Chinchilla Baby (Kit)

How To Handle A Chinchilla Mom And Chinchilla Baby

Once you have confirmed that your chinchilla is pregnant, provide that chinchilla with plenty of extra hay, food, and water. Expectant mothers will drink and eat quite a bit more, so it is imperative that more food and water are at the chinchilla’s disposal. Some people will stop giving calf mana to there chinchillas once they know they are pregnant. People have reported that calf mana can cause larger babies and therefore causes the mother to have a more difficult birth. This could result in the baby getting stuck in the birth canal.

A chinchilla’s vagina opens before the chinchilla gives birth. Each chinchilla is different, so this can occur a week before she delivers, a few days before she delivers, or on the day of delivery. If you do not know your chinchilla’s due date, it is best to remove the chinchilla from her partner once you see she has opened. This will prevent breedback from occurring.

Breedback is when the female chinchilla has delivered her litter, and the male will breed her again. This causes a lot of stress on the chinchilla’s body because she is feeding and looking after kits on the outside, and nurturing kits on the inside. Breedback takes a lot out of a chinchilla mother. If breedback does occur, make sure the chinchilla gets a long break before she is put back into breeding.

After the female chinchilla has given birth her vagina remains opens for approximately ten days. Once her vagina has closed the male chinchilla can be put back in with her to help raise the kits. Monitor the female and male closely to ensure nothing negative happens. Also, monitor the female’s genitalia after she has given birth. Sometimes females can get infections, so watch for any discolored discharge or bad odor. If you see any signs of infection, the chinchilla will have to be taken to the vet for antibiotics.

HowToHandleAChinchillaMomAndChinchillaBaby

Chinchilla Births

If you’re lucky enough you will get to witness the birth of your chinchilla’s kits. People often miss the birthing because it usually occurs in the early morning. However, chinchillas can give birth at any time during the day or night. If you have a cage with multiple levels, the chinchilla will go to the very bottom level to give birth; this usually happens about a week before the birthing. When the time to deliver comes, your chinchilla will begin to start stretching. She will walk around the cage stretching her back legs.

Once the contractions start your chinchilla may be sitting on all four legs or standing on her back legs. If the chinchilla is having contractions while on her back two legs she will stand straight up when having the contraction. She will then go back to sitting on her back two legs. If the chinchilla is on all four legs having contractions, she will lean forward during the contractions. You may even be able to see the sides of your chinchilla become really indented during each contraction. It is not uncommon for chinchillas to grind their teeth while in labor, some will even let out squeaks of pain.

Once the water breaks your chinchilla’s stomach may become soaked with water, however, this doesn’t always occur. Sometimes when the water breaks the water will just go into the shavings, and there will be no visible signs of the water had broken.

You may notice your chinchilla monitoring her vagina during the process of her labor. Once the chinchilla is ready to deliver a kit, she will bend down and pull the kit out with her teeth. She will then proceed to clean the kit off. Sometimes with first-time mothers, they become a little eager to clean their baby. This can sometimes result in the kit getting injured. If you notice your chinchilla becoming a little too eager with her kits, you can remove the kit and start to dry it off yourself.

In the case of multiple litters, the mother chinchilla may start to have contractions right after delivering her first kit. She may then ignore the kit that was just born and move on to begin delivering the second kit. If you see this happening, remove the kit and start to dry it off until the mother chinchilla can focus her attention on it.

The mother chinchilla will deliver an afterbirth, and in most cases, this signifies the end of the birthing. However, there have been cases where the chinchilla is not finished. Chinchilla’s have two uterine horns and can hold kits in both horns. The afterbirth may just be the ending of one of the uterine horns.

Once your chinchilla has finished giving birth, it is best to pick her up and check her stomach to make sure there are no other chinchillas inside her. By gentle pushing her stomach, she should feel squishy, but if her stomach still feels hard and you can still feel lumps, she still has kits inside her. Give the chinchilla some time to see if she has the kits on her own. If her labor has stopped completely, she should be taken to a vet. Some chinchillas can go hours between kits, and some will have one right after the other.

If a kit becomes stuck in the birth canal, you can gently try to ease the kit out with the chinchilla’s contractions, *most kits often die when they become stuck, and you have to work them out*. This should only be done if you are confident in handling your chinchilla under stress. If you are unable to get the kit out, the chinchilla needs to be taken to a vet. The faster you get the kit out, the better chance you have of saving the mother chinchilla. Kits that becomes stuck are fatal to the mother chinchilla. Chinchillas will bleed during delivery, but not a whole lot of blood will be noticeable. If you notice your chinchilla is bleeding quite a bit and continues to bleed after she has finished delivering all the kits, she needs to be taken to a vet.

HowToHandleAChinchillaMomAndChinchillaBaby

Chinchilla Mother’s Milk

It is always best to find out if the mother’s milk is coming in before you decide to hand feed any kit. Finding out if the mother chinchilla’s milk has come in can be tricky if your chinchilla does not like to be held. Make sure to hold the chinchilla firmly so it cannot get loose. You then gently spread the fur covering the teat, you should be able to visibly see an elongated red/pink teat. Gently squeeze the teat at the base of the chinchilla’s skin in a downward motion, this should cause milk to come out of the end of the teat.

Do not worry if on the first day no milk appears to have come in. Chinchilla mother’s milk usually does not come in on the first day. To help the mother’s milk to come in you can put a water bottle, consisting of half water and half unsweetened cranberry juice, into the cage. Make sure you provide the chinchilla with a water bottle with just water in it as well. During the first week of life, make sure you weigh the kit often to make sure the mother is providing them with enough milk. Kits should gain 2-5 grams per day.

HowToHandleAChinchillaMomAndChinchillaBaby

Hand Feeding Kits

Only start hand feeding if it is absolutely necessary. Hand feeding should take place every 2 hours for the first week the kit is born. You can get away with 3 hours at night. Then increase the time between hand feedings by an hour of each additional week. Week 2 feed every 3 hours, week three every 4 hours, etc.. At night you can increase the time by an hour as well. You may have to go back to hand feeding every two hours if the kit is not gaining.

This is what I used while hand feeding, but it may have to be modified to each specific kit.

When starting to get a kit to hand feed gently hold the kit in one hand in an upright position. Place your fingers over the legs to prevent the kit from getting loose. Try not to hold the kit too tightly, just enough so it cannot get away from you. Then, place the syringe on the lips in the kit, and allow one drop to sit on the kits lips. The kit will then lick the drop off its lips. Continue to do this until the kit gets the hang of hand feeding.

You do not want to rush the kit into hand feeding because you then run the risk of aspiration. You will know the kit has aspirated if it starts to make a coughing noise and milk starts to come out of the kit’s nose. Don’t be alarmed if this happens, because chances are it will occur when your kit is starting out at hand feeding. If this happens put the kit’s body into your hand (make sure you support the neck) and bring the kit up to your body, then swing the kit down towards your legs. This will force out any fluid remaining in the lungs. If not a lot of milk has entered the lungs of your kit then the kit should be able to cough it out by itself, just make sure you wipe off the milk coming out of the nose to prevent it from going back into the nose.

Hand fed kits should be weighed at every feeding during the first week. It’s much slower for weight gains in hand-fed babies. This is because it takes them a while to figure out the whole hand-feeding process. If your hand feeding a kit and the kit is not gaining any weight and has started to lose weight, you need to start hand feeding more often. If the kit is not gaining and not losing you can try to feed them more often. During the first week of life, kits should be taking anywhere from 1 – 3 full syringes. One syringe equals one cc.

HowToHandleAChinchillaMomAndChinchillaBaby

Recipe for Hand Feeding

  • One can of goat’s milk (if goat’s milk cannot be found you can use evaporated milk)
  • One can of water
  • One tablespoon of live active bacteria culture yogurt
  • One tablespoon of dried baby rice cereal
  • Two drops of light corn syrup (I didn’t use this in my mixture because it gave the kit diarrhea)

This mixture only stays good for two days. You can freeze the rest in ice cube trays

Is Owning A Chinchilla Difficult?

Owning a chinchilla is not difficult! Here is my personal shopping list, created from the things I use daily! (Chinchilla Shopping List) Here are a few brief instructions that will make owning a chinchilla easier: 

  • Keep your chinchilla cool, below 70 degrees and away from a draft.
  • Give your chinchilla a large size cage.
  • Supply your chinchilla with superior food.
  • Be kind and gentle with your chinchilla!
  • Play with him every day
  • Let him out of his cage every day for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2 hours.
  • Give them good chew toys
  • Provide good water – no fluoride or chlorine!

The privilege of owning a chinchilla

Chinchillas are from South America found mainly in Peru and Argentina. These little fur balls love to leap and climb. As a pet, you will be amazed at the heights they jump during playtime. Chinchillas require a lot of exercise and lots of playful interaction with their owners. Since these animals are from mountainous regions, they are adapted to cool, non-humid air conditions. When having a chinchilla as a pet, it is mandatory that they have proper air-conditioning during the warmer seasons. We here at ChinchillaStuff.com have high humidity during summer months this is deadly to a chinchilla. A fan will not cool chinchillas. They do not sweat or pant like other animals so if you use a fan to try to cool them you will only be blowing hot air on them and creating more stress. Temps most comfortable for our pet chins are 64-72 leaning on the cooler side. Temps above 75 in combination with humidity will kill your loving pet. Wintertime most people keep their home at 68-72, and the air is drier; this is fine for the chinchilla.

Chinchillas are inexpensive.

Chinchillas are inexpensive to own the main investment of the chinchilla his cage (see my chin cage) and some accessories can range from a total of $200 to $350 on an average depending on the cost of the cage and of the chin. Chinchillas do not require shots, but please be sure there is a vet near you that can care for your chin if it should get sick or injured. Chinchillas live 15 to 20 yrs, and many are capable of reproducing up into their teens. The key to long life is to get your chinchilla from a reputable breeder who will assist you on your questions as needed, has pedigree information on your pet, and explains a proper diet for your chinchilla. There are a variety of foods on the market, and it is important that you know what to look for and avoid in chinchilla feeds. Breeders that have worked with chins for many years are best suited to explain a healthy diet. It is wise to follow exactly the diet that the breeder recommends since their herd has done well on this routine. Some breeders differ in the diet; this does not mean one is wrong over the other, it means this is what has worked best for them and their chins.

Chinchillas are very smart.

They learn their name in a short period of time; they recognize different people within the house. They will bond to the whole family but may still have a favorite. Chinchillas look at everything as fun and adventure. Always make a new experience positive, so your chin learns that it is always safe. Chinchillas are the “Boss.” They feel the need to always be in charge, respect this and your pet will love you all the more. Always expect more from your chin and you’ll get more! They can learn continually and have a long memory. Some chins are very trainable while others train you 🙂 .

Chewing

Chinchillas need to chew; their teeth grow throughout their life and hays, chew toys, good feed and filtered water all benefit the teeth.

Water

Water is a big concern because tap/city water contains chlorine and fluoride this blocks calcium absorption and can be poisonous to your chin. Well, water has softeners in which contain high amounts of sodium or potassium, these can kill your chinchilla. Purified bottled water, filtered water: filtered refrigerator water, reverse osmosis, carbon filtration systems or distilled are recommended. Some bottled water has sodium added so read your labels; nothing should be added.

Chinchilla feed

Chinchillas eat a specially formulated green pellet designed to fit their nutritional needs. Rabbit pellets should not be used one reason is the vitamin A content is higher, and the calcium is lower than what is needed to meet the needs of a chinchilla which can cause liver damage. Some countries can’t get chinchilla pellets and have substituted with rabbit pellets. This is true with guinea pig pellets also; they are designed to meet the needs of the guinea pig. Be sure to use a top quality chinchilla pellet only.

When shopping for good chinchilla food, you need to be aware of several things;

  1. First, the pellets should contain no corn. Corn, due to the way it is stored it can contain aflatoxins (fungus) that can kill your chinchilla. To research aflatoxins, you can check with the Dept. of Agriculture.
  2. Many feeds found in pet stores are medicated; your chinchilla doesn’t need this daily medication, and it can affect their health over time.
  3. Third, there should be an expiration date on the product. Most feeds have a 3 to 6-month shelf life after this time the nutritional value breaks down, and the food is no longer good.
  4. In our home, we use Oxbow pellets because we feel it is the best on the market for chinchillas. We get this feed shipped in fresh on a regular schedule. A chinchilla eats about two tablespoons of pellets daily; this is about 1.5 pounds per month. The average pet owner purchases 2lb every 4 to 5 weeks.

Hay

The diet is not complete without hay. Alfalfa and timothy hays are among the favorites used. Alfalfa is high in nutrition and highly valued for its protein and calcium content. Alfalfa hay is needed for nutrition and for fiber. The other benefit is for good chewing to help keep the teeth warn properly. Timothy hay is especially good for fiber and dental purposes. The Timothy hay and the alfalfa hay both have different textures this creates the chin to chew in different directions keeping the teeth worn more even. Both hays are found in loose bundles or in pressed cubes. The hays should be free of glue binders and pesticides.

Vitamins

We use a whole grain and seed blend that is fortified with vitamins and minerals, Seward’s Vitagrain Supplement. Our chinchillas each get one teaspoon of this product daily and find it to be their favorite part of feeding time. This makes a great bonding tool if you feed it to your new chin out of your hand. Never give more than the recommended amount even though they beg you for more!

If Liquid pet chinchilla vitamins are used instead of our Vitagrain Supplement, this should be added to the water, but it is mandatory that the water bottle gets scrubbed out daily to prevent bacterial growth in the water. A dirty water bottle can lead to bacterial growth that can cause illness and tooth loss in your pet. Always follow dose directions on the bottle.

Treats

Use good judgment on this. Read your labels. I only use natural products for my chins. Spoon size shredded wheat is loved by chins and safe for a daily treat. Other cereals contain BHA, BHT, Trisodium phosphate, sugar, salt, and colors, YECK! Read labels!!! The shredded wheat should not be the frosted or fruit filled type. An occasional unsalted, non-roasted, non-oiled sunflower seeds in the shell are great, or pumpkin seed is healthy and loved by chins. Unsweetened banana chip, ½ raisin, rose hips, unsweetened/unsulphered papaya are safe treats too. Peanuts are not a safe treat. Peanuts can be affected by aflatoxins like corn and should never be given to your pet. Too many treats will make your pet too full to eat the pellets needed in the diet to maintain good health so only one or two little treats daily.

Dust bath

There is one product that I consider safe and superior above all others! Blue Cloud Dust is what I personally use and is real volcanic ash. This is a soft absorbent natural product. Chinchillas in the wild roll in volcanic ash to keep their fur in top condition. A bath should be offered 2 to 3 times weekly for a 10 to 20 minute period. This same dust can be used through the week but should be thrown away at the end of the week. Thoroughly wash the container with a mild soap, such as dish soap rinse completely, dry and place the fresh dust for the week. Do not sift the dust and use for longer than one week. Bacteria will grow in the dust and can cause health problems for your pet. If the dustbin is left in the cage it will get used as a litter box and you will need to discard the dust. Ordinary sand is not suitable for bathing since it will not properly clean your chin and it will damage the beautiful fur there is also the risk of getting into your pet’s eyes or yours.

Chinchilla Bonding – What You SHOULD And SHOULD NOT Ever Do!

Chinchiall Bonding

Chinchillas are such a wonderful pet. Most people have no idea how lovable, clever and smart these little animals are. This is not a pet to purchase if you are not a long-term commitment person because a chinchilla has been known to live as long as 35 years. Most chinchilla house pets have a life expectancy of 15-20 years. You want to be sure that this pet will be loved and tended to for all these years. This is a new family member, and it will need regular care and attention.

Proper Chinchilla Bonding Involves:

  • Healthy, Regular Habits for eating, sleeping and playtime.
  • Vet Care when needed.
  • Being Gentle And Calm
  • Let him out to run in a safe room
  • Never Chase your chinchilla!
  • Love Him!

Healthy Habits

Chinchillas really are a special little pet. They have a cheerful disposition and are ready to play upon seeing you. To maintain good health, a chinchilla should be on a regular schedule for eating, sleeping, time out of the cage for playtime, etc. You’ll need to spend at least 2 or more hours daily with your chinchilla. The more time you spend with your pet, the better the pet and your bond.

Vet Care

Chinchillas are low maintenance and have no foul odors if maintained properly. Chins don’t require shots from your vet. It is a good idea to know of a vet that can treat your chin if it should get ill or have an injury.

Chinchilla Bonding 101

When you get your new chinchilla home set the cage up right away with food and water. Then take the chinchilla and place it in the cage. Let the chin explore its new home and take a nap until the evening. Baby chinchillas need reassurance. They need to know you love them and will care for them. They are a baby so treat them like a baby. Do not leave a baby chin alone the first evening when you bring it home. You need to be there when it wakes up, around 6-7pm. Take it out of the cage even if it squawks at you. Pick it up cuddle it and talk softly to let it know everything is ok. If you put on a large overshirt and place the chin inside between your shirts, it will feel secure. When a chin can’t see you, he thinks you don’t know where he is so when hiding in the shirt this provides security but the chinchilla can hear your voice, your breathing, and your heartbeat and can smell you. This creates the chin to get used to you and bond with you. Sit in your favorite chair, watch TV, read, work on the computer. Let your chin run up and down your sleeves, peek out at you from the neckline, run down your back or nap. Do this for one hour daily for three days, and your chin will think you are the greatest thing in the world!! During this time do not let your chin have free run time. When the chin comes out of the cage, you want it to be excited to come out to be with you. If you let your chin run loose before it is bonded to you, it will look forward to coming out of the cage to be free not to be with you. I like to see people wait for 2 to 3 weeks before giving floor runtime. Allow the chin to run on your lap and the sofa but avoid the floor for a couple of weeks.

Ready To Run

When you are ready to let your chin run lose, you need to be sure the area is chin proofed! Be aware of electrical cord and low lying furniture. You can roll up a towel or stuff a pillow in front of dressers etc. so the chin can’t go under where you can’t reach to retrieve him. Beware of lazy boy chairs and the springs underneath. Most people like to let them run in the bathroom it’s small and easy to chin proof or a hallway that you can close doors and block off. SPECIAL NOTES: Be sure to remain seated while letting your chin run around. It is very easy to step on or kneel down on a chin at play. Close the toilet seats, chins look up and only see something to jump up on not knowing the lid is up. Wet chinchillas are susceptible to pneumonia which is life-threatening.

Chewers!!!

Chinchillas are chewers their teeth grow throughout their life and must be worn down so be sure to provide safe, non-toxic branches, pine blocks or pumice stones for your pet. Also, remember when your chin is out playing watch that those electric cords are not accessible because they will chew them! Tape up wires or local hardware stores care plastic tubing with a cut up the side to place your wires in to prevent damage.

Chin Psychology

Chinchillas can be trained to use a litter box and can be trained to go back in their cage upon demand. When you get your new chinchilla to spend a lot of time carrying him around with you. Don’t let him (her) run free until your sure your pet trusts you (about two weeks). During this time when you put your chin back in its cage after the door is closed make a crinkling sound from the treat package then give the chin a treat. When you are ready to let your chin out for free play be sure to give it enough time to really play (at least an hour). Never trick or tease your chin they are smart and have a long-term memory, and they won’t trust you. Never chase your pet to put it in the cage. Chin psychology is needed! Slowly approach your pet then luring it into a corner, casually talk to it, wave your left hand around slowly to get its attention and gently with your other hand scoop up your pet. If you fail, try again but don’t get upset with your pet and frighten it. Dropping a towel or small blanket over your chin puts the chin in darkness, causing him to stop and calm down. Then gently while talking to him pick up the covered chin and gently return him to his cage.

Is that True?

Yes, it is true chinchillas will lick your face or lips as a sign of affection. Yes, they learn their name and come when called if you are always patient and gentle with them. And be sure to rub behind their ears, under their chin, and on their chest because they adore this!

Ebony Chinchiilla

Baby Ebony Chinchilla

I’ve have had many people contact me confused with how to work with breeding the Ebony Chinchilla.

So the following information is dedicated to you!

 

EBONY
Adjective – meaning – Intensely Black
— Source: Oxford Dictionary
Dark Ebony Chinchilla
Photo Credit: @lilaschinchilla

 

Bowens Chinchilla Ranch

The Ebony was developed by Bowens Chinchilla Ranch in the USA. In 1982, when the Ebony was a relatively new Mutation to the Chinchilla world, it was thought to be a DOMINANT, with regards to breeding and the genetics of the mutation.

The Early Years

In 1946 Ed and Marge Bowen purchased their first pair of chinchillas for $3,200 (at that time a brand new Cadillac cost $800!) They both really enjoyed raising these little animals and the second pair of chinchillas followed soon after that. Ed and Marge purchased several small herds throughout the years, and it wasn’t long before the chinchillas outgrew their basement.

Son and daughter-in-law, Bud and Joan, were brought into the business and three chinchilla barns were built in 1959. Each barn measured 60′ by 26′. By this time the ranch had grown to about 2,000 animals. Ed became president of Empress, the national organization for commercial chinchilla ranchers, and both he and his son, Bud, judged many chinchilla shows.

Enter the Neubauers

Gary and Margot Neubauer started raising chinchillas in 1968. They were very successful. In 1971 they won Grand Show and Reserve Grand Show against the toughest competition Southern California could muster. Ed Bowen suffered a stroke in 1972, and Gary Neubauer was brought in to manage Bowen’s Chinchillas. Sadly, shortly after that Ed passed away.

Bud Bowen became Empress president in 1976, an office which he retained for four years. Besides guiding the national breeders’ organization, he formed the Chinchilla Industry Council. The CIC is an international organization that is still instrumental in fighting many of the airline regulations as well as animal rights extremists.

Bud turned over the reigns of the ranch operation to Gary. Gary became a partner in the ranch and several years later, the sole owner of Bowen’s Chinchilla Ranch.

In the year 2000, Gary and Margot moved the chinchillas to Anza, California. The Anza facility is much larger than the old ranch and could house many thousands of animals in a climate that is very well suited for chinchilla ranching. Anza is located in a desert mountain area that is above 4,000′. Because of the dry air, evaporative coolers can handle the summer heat. In the winter months, propane heaters ensure that the breeders and weaners at kept at no less than 60 degrees. Underground earth-tubes provided fresh air at moderate temperatures, even in the hottest summer months and the coldest winter months.

Ebony Mutation

At the time, the Ebony mutation was described as follows – The HOMOZYGOUS animal ( full Ebony ) is dark to extra dark from Brownish Black to Jet Black. The HETEROZYGOUS ( Ebony carrier ) animal has a distinct agouti pattern and a grotzen area with lighter sides and darker belly fur.

The source of the information in the above paragraph is taken from ‘Modern Chinchilla Farming,’ by Willis D Parker.

From The Experts

Ebony Chinchilla Show Ribbons

The advice that is given in this article, from the book mentioned above is the same information that was passed on from the original breeders of the Ebony Chinchillas!  These Ebony Chinchillas are from some of the best show winning lines in the USA, and therefore I am taking the breeders advice and acting upon it to keep the quality of the Ebony lines.

The genetic information is therefore as follows – The Ebony is a CUMULATIVE RECESSIVE. This means that as the color is bred together, the color gets darker and stronger with each generation.

The animal was originally thought to be dominant because sometimes the first generation offspring have a white belly and when mated to a Standard would produce white bellied offspring. The problem is that any animal with a possible Ebony gene can produce brown bellied offspring, which obviously is not desirable. Several breeders have had herds ruined because of this.

The most interesting point is that when working with the Ebony you can also have the following occur – If two HOMOZYGOUS Ebony Chinchillas are bred together, they CAN also produce white bellied Standard looking offspring, which has obviously added to the confusion over the years. But these offspring would still be classed as HETERZYGOUS Ebony despite the appearance, so they ARE carrying Ebony.

 

It should be noted that Chinchillas have two colors of belly fur. White or colored as in Charcoal and Ebony. However, there is a variation, a sort of halfway house where the belly fur is tipped giving the animal a ‘dirty’ appearance. Animals that are bought of bred with this appearance are either Ebony/Charcoal related or are Off Colour.

The most useful cross with Ebony is Beige. This will eventually produce you an animal that is brown furred all over, which is known as the TAN. If you are interested in breeding Ebony, then I would suggest that you use the following method which has been used in the past with successful results.

 

1st Generation Ebony to Ebony
2nd Generation Ebony to Standard
3rd Generation Ebony to Ebony
4th Generation Ebony to Standard or Beige….etc…

 

[alert style=”warning”]But one important rule to remember is that you should never breed closer than half brother to half sister[/alert].

Working With Ebony

The Ebony is a wonderful mutation, perhaps I am biased, as I have to admit it is one of my favorites! They have unusual traits as explained above. But once you understand how they work, they are quite straightforward to breed.

People tend to get confused with the terms Homozygous and Heterozygous. This is made easier to understand if you think of it in another way. Homozygous Ebony, is a full Ebony, meaning that it has two Ebony genes, making it a full mutation. Then if you think of Heterozygous as being the same as an Ebony carrier, having only one Ebony gene to pass on to offspring. Meaning you have a 50 percent chance of the Ebony gene being passed into the offspring and obviously 50 percent chance of it not being passed on. To give you an example of this, mating a full or Homozygous Ebony to a regular Standard Chinchilla, will give you Heterozygous Ebony young. So in effect, they are Ebony carriers. However, Ebony working differently to other recessives mutations, such a Violet or Sapphire, means that the Hetero Ebony youngsters born, show the Ebony in them, by being a dark grey all over, including the tummy area. With this, it is then possible to work only with dark-colored Hetero Ebonies, and as the cumulative effect comes into play with Ebony, the Heteros will get darker and darker with generations, if you breed the darkest you have to each other. Another way of making the Heterozygous Ebony darker is by the introduction of Black Velvet. This will add a Blacktip to the fur of the animal, usually seen on the face and the back area more so, than on the tummy area. Adding the Black Velvet means that the animal is then classed as a ToV Heterozygous Ebony. The ToV stands for ‘Touch of Velvet.’ This can also be achieved with Homo Ebonies as well, to enable the blackness of the animal to become more intense, more quickly.

The same effect can be used to your advantage when using Ebony with Beige. Breeding a full Ebony to a regular Beige will produce you, Heterozygous Ebony, as shown in the photo above, as well a Hetero Ebony Beiges. With a Beige that is also a Hetero Ebony, the animal looks like a regular Beige, except that the Beige color covers the whole animal including the tummy area. Obviously then if you have used a ToV Ebony to your Beige, then the beige coloring of the offspring may well also become darker. Effectively, you are adding the Black Velvet of your Ebony into your Beige, making it into a Brown Velvet that has the wrap around fur coloring that the Ebony enables. Once you have your Beige/Hetero Ebony, you can breed this to a Homozygous Ebony. Doing this will allow you to produce further Hetero Ebonies, Beige / Hetero Ebonies, Homo Ebonies, and Tans. A Tan is a Beige / Homo Ebony cross. The darker the Ebony you use and especially if you already have ToV in your Beige / Hetero Ebony, will depend on the darkness of the Tan that you breed. Some can end up being dark Beige all over, whereas others are described as Chocolate, as they are a rich Brown color all over. The Tan works in the same way, being that it also has the cumulative feature, so the more generations you work with, will eventually darken if you select darker animals every generation.

Tan Chinchilla
Tan Chinchilla

So here to recap on the way you can get to work with Ebony, here are the outcomes for colors when breeding.

  • Mating Heterozygous Ebony to Standard produces –
    50 percent Standard
    50 percent Heterozygous Ebony
    ( Remember, however, that with this combination, some Chinchillas may be born with White tummies and maybe Hetero Ebonies, due to the cumulative effect, however, you will not know for sure unless you breed with this animal.)
  • Mating Homozygous Ebony to Standard produces –
    100 percent Heterozygous Ebony
  • Mating Homozygous Ebony to Heterozygous Ebony produces –
    50 percent Heterozygous Ebony
    50 percent Homozygous Ebony
  • Mating Homozygous Ebony to Homozygous Ebony produces –
    100 percent Homozygous Ebony
  • Mating Heterozygous Ebony to Beige produces –
    25 percent Standard
    25 percent Beige
    25 Heterozygous Ebony
    25 percent Heterozygous Ebony / Beige
  • Mating Homozygous Ebony to Beige produces –
    50 percent Heterozygous Ebony
    50 percent Heterozygous Ebony / Beige
  • Mating Homozygous Ebony to Heterozygous Ebony / Beige produces –
    25 percent Heterozygous Ebony
    25 percent Heterozygous Ebony / Beige
    25 percent Homozygous Ebony
    25 Homozygous Ebony / Beige (Tan)
  • Mating Homozygous Ebony to Homozygous Ebony / Beige (Tan) produces –
    50 percent Homozygous Ebony
    50 percent Homozygous Ebony / Beige (Tan)

Have fun working with the Ebony!

Chinchilla Conformation

CHINCHILLA CONFORMATION

CHINCHILLA CONFORMATION

Conformation of a Chinchilla is the overall shape. Ideally, Chinchillas that are bred or purchased should be graded for Confirmation. There are three main areas for examining conformation, these being the body, neck and the head. I hope that the following information will prove useful when choosing partners for your breeding stock or when entering a show. However, just because an animal may have a good or an excellent conformation, this does not necessarily mean that it will do well at a show, other characteristics have to be taken into consideration, for example – fur color, fur density, cleanliness etc… Try to work with your animals, picking out the points that need to be improved and looking for these qualities in other animals, then breeding the two animals together to try to improve. Do not think, however, that you can work miracles overnight, building up your Chinchillas so that they have good or excellent conformation can take a long time. I feel it important to mention, however, that in my opinion Chinchillas with poor conformation are not suitable for showing or for breeding anything other than pet Chinchillas.

BODY CONFORMATION

Ideally, you are looking for an animal that when you look down upon it, it is shaped like a ball. Also, you want the animal to have the size to go with the confirmation whenever possible.

EXCELLENT Is an animal with a short, round evenly shaped body.
GOOD The animal will be more oval in shape. This shape is caused by a narrower chest and front quarters. It is often referred to as egg-shaped, having a little longer body structure.
FAIR This animal would tend to be longer and more narrow in shape.
POOR Is a narrow animal with a very shallow chest, which appears to be pinched from in front of the hips to the front quarters.

NECK CONFORMATION

The length and the density of the fur of the Chinchilla determines the neck conformation. It is possible for an animal to have a high roach or ruff and still be poorly furred in the neck if there is excess fat in the area.

EXCELLENT The neck shall be very short and full. The fur must be dense enough to reach behind the ears and break when the animal moves. The ideal neck should be of a blocky conformation with outstanding density, thereby forcing the fur to stand higher.
GOOD Will be reasonably short and full, creating a virtual straight line from the ears back to the rump. There may be a slight dip, but there must be sufficient length of fur to avoid the dip becoming pronounced.
FAIR In this case, the neck is longer, and the fur is usually thinner and shorter. When viewing the animal from the side a definite dip in the neck area can be observed.
POOR Is a neck that is long and shallow with little fur behind the ears. When viewing from the side, the dip is plain to see, and the fur on the neck area tends to be short and thin.

HEAD CONFORMATION

When looking to purchase a Chinchilla never come away with an animal with a ‘rat’ like face. Try to always go for a squashed looking face and the wider apart the eyes, the better; this shows how broad the head is.

EXCELLENT The animal should have a short and broad head with a short ear and a full arched crown. Upon examination of the animal, the eyes will appear to be deep-set and the nose blunt and square.
GOOD The ears are slightly longer, but the face still falls under the short and broad class. The eyes may appear to be slightly closer and the nose a little longer. A good head usually lacks the full arched crown found in an excellent animal.
FAIR Is one with a medium to long ear and a wedged or triangular shaped face.
POOR Is a chinchilla with a medium to long ear, a very narrow, pointed face with little width between the eyes and the ears. When examined from the front, a very narrow triangle can be imagined using the ears, eyes a, d nose as guideposts. The face is definately ratty in appearance and lacks beauty.

You can try grading your own animals for conformation by use of the above information. I also use a point system with my own animals. Animals that get POOR on any of the three categories do not get a point, but if FAIR is achieved they score one point, for GOOD allow two points and for EXCELLENT award three points on each category scored. Then add them up and work out the animals conformation score out of the nine points available.

How To Handle A Chinchilla

How To Handle A Chinchilla

If you own one or more Chinchillas, you will begin to notice how they all have their own personalities. Some love a fuss, some a tickle behind the ear, while others are more independent or grumpy when they are woken up! About animal falls into. Whether he is grumpy or loving, you will at some stage need to handle your animal and keep him tame. With practice and time, you will handle well, making sure he feels secure in your arms.

  1. Firstly, don’t be nervous. Let him know that you are the boss. The animal may become stressed if he senses that you are not in control. Coax him out of his cage with a raisin if necessary, or you may have one of those animals who readily leaps out of his cage as you open the door!
  2. Carefully place your hand under the animal’s tummy and lift him onto your chest and then position him. Try sitting in a fairly empty room, where there are not too many places he can hide if he escapes. The bathroom is sometimes quite suitable with a small open space allowing you to recapture him easily. While sitting down allow him to sit on your knees. If he feels awkward or nervous, he may let off a smell similar to that of burnt almonds. This is produced by a small gland just inside the animal’s anus but is not particularly unpleasant and hardly happens if your animal is used to being handled. The animal may also release tufts of fur if nervous. Under no circumstances grab the animal by the fur, but if it does happen, do not worry as the fur will regrow again in around 90 days.
  3. The best way to control the Chinchilla is to place your fingers gently but firmly around the tail closest to the body, fairly close to the root of the tail. The chinchilla does not seem to mind being held by the tail. If you hold the tip of the tail, this can cause the animal distress and can even break the tail. Place your other hand on your pets back, stroking the fur downwards towards the tail to soothe him. Make sure your hands are clean and dry, as dirt and sweat can affect the animal’s fur.
  4. When carrying your Chinchilla, instead of holding the tail make your hand into a cup shape and support the rear end of him with your hand, supporting the whole weight of the animal. You will find that your pet will wriggle and squirm at first, but with time your pet will get used to being handled and will quite happily sit in your hands or be cradled in your arms. Do not expect overnight results, getting your pet used to being handled can take time. But with time, comes results!

Do Chinchillas Bite?

Chinchillas usually don’t bite; unless they feel threatened or scared, they may nip you.

How Do I Hold My Chinchilla?

Holding your chinchilla close to your chest will make your chinchilla feel secure. Do not hold your chinchilla too tight as they are not like dogs or cats that can be cuddled. Chinchillas also have a very thin skeleton and holding a chinchilla too tight risks bone fracture or breakage.

What Else Do I Need To Know

Many new chin owners are unsure how to handle their chins. Well, chins sort of come with a built-in handle…  It is acceptable and good to hold the chins tail gently when handling it. Holding the tail prevents fur slipping, and especially injury! It is instinct for people to tighten their grip on something that is slipping away from them, this might cause you to injure your chins delicate bone structure without meaning to. You can grab the tail where the fur on the body stops, grab it firmly with your thumb and hand. Be careful not to grab too far down as you can hurt the tail. NEVER use the tail to pull the chin out of a crevice that it has “jammed” itself into trying to escape. This can injure the chin in several ways!  Holding the tail while letting your chin sit on your other arm is comfortable for both you and your chin, and will help prevent injury if the chin attempts to base jump from your arm! Your chin may hide it’s face in the crook of your arm to help it feel safer if it’s scared.

Handling your chin is a very important part of ownership, and can be as important as food and water! Many people say “my chin doesn’t like to be held,” which is often true. But with enough time your chin will accept that this is just part of what happens and even begin to enjoy it. There are many reasons you should have your chin accept being held, including but not limited to:

  • Vet visits
  • Administering medications or hand feeding
  • Hair ring check
  • Emergency Evacuations

The list is endless! Here are some suggestions to help get your chin used to being held:

  • Only give a daily treat when holding your chin
  • Let your chin hide in the nook of your arm
  • Do NOT let your chin go if it struggles unless injury will occur if you do not. This will encourage the chin to do it every time

Many times owners are concerned about their chin “liking” them. Like children, chins do not always know what is best for them. Until they are used to being handled, it will be something that they do not enjoy. Humans are very large to chins, and even small children who stare and point. Being prey animals naturally, chins are very concerned about being eaten. Teaching your chin to be held is a very important part of socializing them, and it will make your life much easier in case of an emergency or situation where you must get the chin quickly. It may take time, but your patience will pay off. The best way to teach your; my about being held is to quickly catch it, the longer you chase it before catching it, the more stressful it will be on the chin.

Often I see people who ask when they should start handling a new chin, my answer is RIGHT AWAY! This will help them adjust more easily instead of just watching them from two weeks then changing their routine and treatment. Like a dog or cat, you should treat you chin from day one the way you plan to treat it for the rest of its life, including handling it.