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Old 12-02-2017, 03:58 PM United States
Josie Josie is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 1
Chinchillas: 1
Default New chinchilla owner-HELP!!

I'm a new chinchilla owner and I'd like to make the best possible environment for my new chinchilla. I got my new chinchilla yesterday. Heís the cutest, most adorable, super fluffy thing Iíve ever held! I can barely believe heís real😁. Chinchillas are officially my new favorite animal! Heís been so perfect. He loves to be held, he loves his cage, heís fun. But Iíve got one problem. He wonít leave his cage! If I reach in to grab him heíll yell at me. Itís scares me because the sound he makes is similar to the sounds Iíve heard other animals make when theyíre in pain. He seems fine though and he only makes that sound when I try to get him out. I donít understand, whatís wrong with my chinchilla? What should I do? I gave him some toilet paper rolls, I think he may be eating them. So Iíll probably stop giving him those. Iím getting chinchilla dust off of amazon along with a little bath house and a wood den. I put a ferret hammock in his cage, so far heíll test it but he wonít actually get in it. I could really use an advice from an expert or even an experienced chinchilla owner. I have a had a lot of experience with other animals and I'd like to know if the chinchilla has similar needs as the animals I've taken care of before. I also would appreciate any advice I can get as a new chin owner. I've had dwarf hamsters, hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, cats, dogs, rats, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs and some others that aren't even close to the same category as a chinchilla. What similarities do chinchillas have to these animals? I've done a lot of research on the chinchillas and I'm feeling kinda confident, but I don't won't to make any fatal mistakes. We had some ferrets that would die soon after being bought, we still don't even know why they got sick and died so quick. I'd like to have this chinchilla last years, so what are some suggestions? Here's what I've got for my chin so far; a cage that we've used for our ferrets before-it's tall and has plenty space for exploring and has multiple levels. That's basically it, though we have a water bottle and a food container. I'm planning to just feed the chin rabbit and guinea pig food, from what I've read this is okay. I've read that chins overheat easily, does that mean they don't need bedding? Should I give the chin a liter box? If so, then would it be okay to use cat liter? Do they even need a liter box? Could I use old ferret stuff? I have some ferret hammocks and a ferret tower, would either of these be okay to give the chin? The room I'm putting the chin in isn't really chin-proof, so I can't really let him roam in there. Would it be okay to just let him roam on my bed during the "roam-time" or on the floor with a gate like you'd use for a rabbit? With my small rodents like gerbils and hamsters, I've never really had to worry about their teeth growing too long. I'd just give them toilet paper rolls that have had the toilet rolls or egg cartons to chew on. For our rabbits, I wasn't the main person taking care of them, but from what I remember, we didn't have to worry about their teeth either, though they had wood to chew on. However I noticed that we needed to trim our rabbits toe nails. Will I need to trim the chinchilla's toe nails? I wouldn't think so. Also I saw somewhere that they need wood chips or something at the bottom of their cage. Again I've never had to worry about this type of thing for my gerbils and hamsters, because they'd always make their own chips by chewing up the toilet paper rolls. For our rabbits, we didn't worry about wood chips either, in fact the cages we had them in were homemade wire cages so we couldn't really give them wood chips. BTW I have boy and during my research I saw that with the boys they need to be checked for hair rings monthly. What do you do when you find a hair ring? Just take it off? Are there any other things that I need to do regularly to prevent health issues? From what I've read chinchillas are super sensitive and I'm scared that I might do something to upset them. The room I'm going to put my new chin in is relatively quiet. It's probably one of the quietest rooms in the house. Something else I found in my research is they can smell other animals. We still have cats and a dog, they're the only "predators" we have. The cats stay in the backyard and the dog is basically free roam, but the dog doesn't come in this room very often. The only other animals that will be in this room are one gerbil and a couple betas (fish). I doubt the fish will be a problem, but I'm wondering if the chinchilla will have an issues with the gerbil. I wouldn't think so. I'm super nervous and I can't believe that I even have a chinchilla.

Thanks for any advice you can give me!

P.S. I named him Bartholomew; Barry for short, like the flash.
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Old 12-05-2017, 03:23 PM United States
lauralynne's Avatar
lauralynne lauralynne is offline
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Tornado Alley aka KS
Posts: 5,093
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Wow. That's a lot of questions...most of which you should know BEFORE getting your new chinchilla.

Please read here NOW:
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until they speak.
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Old 12-06-2017, 12:48 AM Canada
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Amethyst Amethyst is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Alberta
Posts: 1,307
Chinchillas: 2

Alright, you really need to do some more research, but I'll give you a quick run down. I'm sorry if I miss anything but one big long paragraph is hard to skip though for questions.

It can take most chins at least a week to get use to a new home, and about a month to get use to your daily life. Most chins do not ever like being picked up, and you need to build a bond with the chin before you can expect it to trust you. It currently has no idea if you plan to grab and eat it.

No toilet paper rolls, they are dirty and if swallowed can swell up and require emergency surgery to remove. Same goes for any paper or cardboard. Some chins enjoy tearing it apart, but make sure it doesn't actually swallow it.

Some ferret things are ok, but anything fabric has to be fleece only, any other fabric can unravel and kill your chin. For hammocks they need to be fleece with fleece straps or metal clips. Fleece is only safe if they don't eat it though, if they eat it you still need to remove it. Not all chins like hammocks, some do some don't. I don't know what a ferret tower is so I can't say if it's ok or not.

What they have in common with other rodents is they are all rodents, that's about it. I guess, like all rodents they need to chew on things to wear their teeth down, but all their teeth grow, not just the front ones.
They require a room below 75F max, with below 50% humidity, ideally don't go above about 70F and the lower the humidity the better as well. Unless you live somewhere cold and dry year round, that doesn't get hot or humid an AC is required, there is no other way to keep the temp and humidity within tolerable levels in the summer. Temps above 75 F for more then a couple hours can kill a chin, or cause brain damage even if they survive. Humidity above 50% can cause fungal and mold growth in their fur. They should never get wet, if they do make sure they are completely dried or their fur can rot out.
Another thing that makes them different the other rodents is their lifespan in captivity is 15-20 years or more if properly cared for. I've read about chins in their 30s.

A modified ferret cage is find for a chin, the Ferret Nation cage is actually a preferred one for chins. Just make sure they can't fall more then a foot or they could get seriously hurt or die. Chins don't need ramps, and ladders are dangerous they can cause toes and feet to get caught, use ledges and perches instead. You also want to make sure there is no plastic accessible in the cage, chins will chew it and if swallowed will cause a blockage that can kill the chin. The cage floor should be solid, wire mesh can hurt their feet.

They need bedding only to absorb their pee, they don't nest like other rodents. They would naturally sleep in rocks so a small house is best. For bedding you can use either wood shavings (kiln dried pine or aspen) or if your chin doesn't chew fleece you can buy or make fleece liners for the cage. Chins can sometimes be trained to pee in a litter box, but no you can't use cat litter, use wood shavings. They poop all the time and can't control it so they can't be trained to poop in the box. I don't bother, my guys just pee where they want in the cage.

In general rabbit and guinea pig food is for said animals, you really want a chinchilla food. You also need to feed hay, it's actually the primary diet, the pellets just make up for what the hay lacks. So unlimited hay, with a couple table spoons of pellets a day. So you are going to need a hay holder as well.

As for free roam time, you can use a pen for them, but keep in mind that a chin can jump 5', not all realize this but keep that in mind. The bed might not be the best idea, unless you don't mind them pooping all over it and possibly peeing.

A chin also needs lots of toys, chew toys like lava chews, wood chews, as well as shredding toys, toss toys, and hanging toys. They are about as smart as a 2 year old human, or a parrot, so they need to be entertained. Also if they don't have enough to chew on to wear down their teeth you will have to get them trimmed at the vet. It's stressful and dangerous for the chin, so best to avoid unless you have no choice. No need to trim their nails, their nails look like human finger nails, and a lava ledge can help file them down no problem.

As for hair rings, it's easiest if you have two people, one to hold the chin and the other to gently pull it's penis out of it's sheath and check for any discoloration or a ring of hair around it. If there is hair you can use vasoline or lube to gently work it off. Hair rings are more an issue with breeding males, single males generally take care if it themselves. I only check if my boys are spending a lot of time with their head down there, or I notice it hanging out or anything like that. Don't be surprised if you notice him, umm, "enjoying himself", if you get my meaning.

As for other animals, the gerbil should be no problem, and the cat and dog so long as they don't actually go up to the cage should be fine. Both dogs and cats carry bacteria that can kill chins though, so make sure there is no contact, and no licking the cage. Also wash you hands before touching the chin if you were playing with another animal. If you still have any rabbits or plan to get more they need to be housed away from the chins as well, as in another room, they can carry a bacteria as well that is airborne if they cough or sneeze, that can kill chins.

Ok I was just going to give a run down but that got long quickly.

Oh and lastly, if the chin every needs to go to the vet it can add up quickly, and not all vets even see chins. So it's best to find a vet now, before you need it and either have a credit card or a couple thousand dollars set aside for emergencies. I really hate the posts of people saying "my chin is hurt or dying what can I do I can't afford a vet". Even minor things can easily get into the hundreds of dollars. Another option is pet insurance, but I don't know of any that accept chins, but some might.
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