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View Poll Results: Is There Any Hope For My Girls?
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  #1  
Old 08-30-2018, 09:57 AM United States
VioletDiamondTheChinnies VioletDiamondTheChinnies is offline
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paper pad Fur Chewing/Fur Biting/Barbering. Any Hope?

Sigh. I've done far too much research on this fur chewing! Let's start from the bottom and build up, shall we? I have two female chinchillas, both who live in a Chinchilla Mansion, with not a lot of shelves, a hiding box, and a running wheel. We do not have constant chew toys out for them, we give them a few days a week, or sometimes none at all. Their diet consists of Small Pet Select 2nd Cutting Timothy Hay, Alfalfa Hay fed at one handful for both chinchillas twice a week, and Oxbow Meadow Hay. Their hay mixture is 2/3 timothy hay and 1/3 orchard hay, and twice a week the orchard hay is swapped out for a handful of alfalfa hay to share for both chins. Their treats consist of a sliver of an almond, a sunflower seed, a goji berry, a tiny piece of dried mango, OR a tiny piece of dried apple every three months. We pick one of the things on this list to feed to them every three months. Their pellets are Oxbow's Premium Chinchilla pellets.

The first chinchilla is Violet, a two-year-old Violet Wrap Carrier who was bought from a breeder and has no fur biting in her genetics. She is the dominant chinchilla and is very playful, very intelligent, and extremely protective. Diamond is the second chinchilla, a year and 3/4 old, who was bought from the same breeder, a Standard Gray, and has no fur biting in her genetics. She is not the dominant chinchilla, is very shy and skitterish, anxious, and not very bright.

Violet has a severe case of fur biting and has bitten every part of her she can reach and isn't the prettiest sight to behold. That is until she snuggles up in your lap. Diamond has mild fur biting and has lightly chewed her hips. Violet started her fur biting around the time Diamond arrived, and Diamond started maybe a month or two ago. I have narrowed the search down to either boredom or stress. They live in the quietest room in a household of four children, where the children do not frequent often. They also have an outdoor cage that they spend most of their time in (in a very shady and cool environment), that is about 1 -1 1/2 foot tall, and very wide. They have cardboard boxes that they shred (NOT EAT) in there with holes cut out in them so they can hide in them.

I've read many times that once a chinchilla starts bitting their fur, it's 99% impossible to stop. I've come to accept Violet as a fur biter, but I can't bear to imagine that Diamond's beautiful coat will now look like Violet's. Help! Is there any hope for my two girls?

- the Essay Writer XD
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  #2  
Old 08-30-2018, 12:24 PM Canada
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Amethyst Amethyst is offline
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Was there anything else new around the same time you got Diamond? New neighbors or new animals? New cage or new cage placement? Did any of your kids start playing loud music or video games, or otherwise make more noise then normal? Also how often do they get baths? Depending on the humidity in your area if it's really dry they should only get a bath a couple times a week at most. Too many baths can dry out the skin making it itchy.

There are also a few other issues I see. First, chins should not have fruits, nuts, or seeds. Fruits and vegetables are too high in sugars and nuts and seeds are too high in fat. In the end they are your chins and if you feel the amount is acceptable then that's fine, just know that those treats are not harmless. If you want safer treats try things like, rose hips, a few slow cook oats, rose petals, a plain Cheerio, a piece of Shreddies, or certain dried herbs like red clover, dandelion, nettle, and raspberry leaf.

The other issue I see is the outside cage, that has a lot of problems. You said it's in the shade and cool (I'll assume 70F or below all the time), but what about humidity? Do you live in a dry area where the humidity is always 40% or below? If the humidity is too high the chins can get mold and fungal issues. Also is the cage blocked from any wind? Wind or even a breeze can cause a draft which could make the chins sick. What is preventing any animals from getting to the cage or a bird from pooping on it? Other animals can carry deceases which can make them sick. Also seeing other animals can stress the chins out, they are prey animals so will naturally assume everything is going to eat them. What is keeping bugs out? With fur chewing it makes them more susceptible to fleas and other bug infestations, as well as some bugs can make them sick. What is preventing leaves and other things from outside from blowing in the cage? Unless you live in the mountains in South America then the local plant life is likely not ok to eat. They could also be allergic to something outside making them itchy and therefore causing the fur biting.

The last problem I see with the outside cage (I don't know if your inside cage is the same) is it is very short. Chins are hoppers not walkers, height is more important then width in a cage, I would say 2 feet tall would be the minimum. If chins can't get away from each other (as in one on the top levels of the cage one on the bottom) when they need alone time that can cause stress too. That is why most popular chins cages are taller then they are wide, with lots of ledges, perches, shelves, and stuff to hop around on. The most popular cages for example are the double Ferret Nation and Critter Nation, both are 2x3 feet wide and 4 feet tall, some people every add extra units, making 6 or even 8 foot tall cages.
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Old 08-30-2018, 10:32 PM United States
VioletDiamondTheChinnies VioletDiamondTheChinnies is offline
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paper pad

I donít want to start a debate about the fruits and seeds, but I based the chinned diet on the breeders suggestions, who has a lot of 20 year old chinchillas, and the LY Chinchillas diet (https://lychinchillas.com/2014/11/12...nchillas-diet/). Nothing else new was introduced around Diamondís time, and we have no other pets. However, I have witnessed both chinchillas biting on each otherís fur. The outdoor cage is short, and we arenít taking them outside anymore until further notice. Their indoor cage is very sparse, but tall enough for their needs. My suspect for the fur biting is boredom. Seattle isnít very humid, but I will start checking before I take them outside. They are underneath the house, shielded from rain, and shielded by wind with two rows of hedges. They used to be on gravel, but we now have a wooden floor underneath their paws. Itís like a chicken cage! All the things you are talking about has been checked off before and thought about, except for the humidity and shortness. The donít live in a humid place, and I give them dust baths about 3 times a week, but when we do 5-10 minute daily dust baths, they love it and have been fine after that.
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Old 08-31-2018, 12:56 AM Canada
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Amethyst Amethyst is offline
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As I said if you feel the amount on those treats is ok then that's fine, just making sure you knew the risks if over fed, I don't know you and different people have different ideas of what a "tiny piece" is. (seriously, for example some people think a whole slice of apple is a "tiny piece" ) Also there is all kinds of misinformation online, glad you got your info from a reliable source.

Well, if the issue is boredom, have you tried rearranging the cage? Change out and/or move around toys, move shelving around, stuff like that? Maybe add a new tunnel or something new for them to check out? Staring at the same stuff in the same places every day will get pretty boring. Also do they have a wheel? If you haven't already, you could also try more variety of toys? Toss toys, hanging toys (horizontal and vertical), as well as different textures, so shedding toys like cardboard, bamboo, grass rope, palm leaf. Wood toys, of different types of wood, and lava ledges and chews. I've even bought surprise toys before (but you can make them if you have the materials), they are made of vine baskets or two coconut halves with wholes drilled in them tied together with sisal rope, with toys and treats (or whatever you want) inside.

When changing out toys or other things in the cage you don't have to toss them if still good. Just put the old stuff aside and put it back later when you change things again, the chins will think it's new again. I try to change things around about once a month to keep things interesting.

Although I still don't personally agree with chins being outside, too many variables, that setup doesn't sound quite as bad as I was thinking. I use to take my chins out to play on a second floor deck when I was a kid, but they were always supervised when out.
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Slave to:
2 Chinchillas: Bazil and Wicket
10 Cats: Mystic, Coon, Rascal, Lucky, Mittens, Shadow, CJ, Tiger, Tux, and Nessie
3 Dogs: Bear, Loki, and Blaze
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  #5  
Old 08-31-2018, 10:44 PM Canada
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Amethyst Amethyst is offline
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Join Date: May 2012
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Apparently I must have skipped over that you live in Seattle, isn't it called the rainy city? How is that not humid? Just doing a quick look right now the humidity level in Seattle is 55%, but it's normally below 40% where you are?

I was also thinking, if they are under the house are people walking above them? or is it more like a basement situation so the ceiling is about 8-10 feet above them? If the ceiling is low and people walk around above them that can also cause stress. I know you said you would stop using it for now, but honestly I think you should just scrap the outdoor chicken pen style cage completely. Focus on setting up the indoor cage properly for chinchillas where you can make sure they are kept in the proper climate controlled environment.
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Slave to:
2 Chinchillas: Bazil and Wicket
10 Cats: Mystic, Coon, Rascal, Lucky, Mittens, Shadow, CJ, Tiger, Tux, and Nessie
3 Dogs: Bear, Loki, and Blaze
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