bonded chinchillas suddenly started fighting, please help!

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wgm

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Jun 23, 2022
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I hope I'm posting this in the right place, it's my first post here.

So bit of context, there are two pairs of chinchillas involved. One pair is new, my wife and I adopted them yesterday. Their names are Poncho and Nano. The other pair we've had for almost a year, their names are Hugo and Tito. All four are male. Hugo and Tito got along fine until last night. They've been shy around us, but haven't had any issues with each other. Until now, they played, ate and slept together, with any arguments lasting only a few seconds. The new pair is still in their own cage. The two pairs didn't meet each other until we let them run around for a few minutes last night.

This morning, my wife found Hugo backed into a corner and refusing to move. He had been bitten on the ear and had blood on his fur, and there were chunks of fur all over the cage. Tito kept trying to get at him, and when I tried to intervene Tito bit me hard enough that I bled. They're currently separated, with Tito in a carrier. Hugo is pretty rattled, but seems to have calmed down. As best I can tell he was only bitten on his ear and is no longer bleeding. I want to take him to a vet, but annoyingly the only vet in our area that can look at him isn't open until tomorrow.

I know I'm probably stating the obvious that it's likely the presence of two new chins that provoked this. I know from what I've read here and elsewhere that once blood is drawn, rebonding isn't feasible; I'm heartbroken that they won't be friends anymore. And now I just don't know what to do.

Can anyone offer some advice? I'm at a loss, and I feel like I really screwed something up here.
 

Amethyst

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Normally just having two new chins in the room don't cause the current chins to fight, unless one or both the new chins are actually female not male and your males smell them in heat. Have you double checked that the new ones are in fact female? It's very common for chins to be misgendered because of the odd anatomy (like females also having what looks like a penis).

As for the fight, once you find of for sure you don't have any females, if the wound wasn't that bad, like one small minor bite not like a chunk missing and no other bite wounds, you might be able to let them settle and cautiously try to reintroduce them. Keep them separated for at least a week, you need to give them time to forget what happened and want to be together again, otherwise they will just pick up where they left off. After a week if they are calm, I would try playtime together and see how it goes. If all goes well after a couple play times you can try monitoring them in the cage together, and go from there.


Just a bit of a heads up, it's advised to quarantine new chins in a different room for 30 days before bring them into the same room as your current chin. That allows any illness the new chins might have to show up as well as for the new chins to settle into their new home so you can get to know what is normal behavior for them.
 

wgm

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Jun 23, 2022
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Utah
Just checked, and the new ones are indeed both male. Maybe Tito just got mad at Hugo for whatever reason.

Hugo's wounds do seem superficial. The only bite marks I can find are on one ear, and no pieces are missing or torn. I'll keep them separated and let them settle down, then try what you suggest. In the meantime I'll keep trying to get an appointment with a vet to get Hugo checked, and quarantine the new ones.

Thanks so much for your help, I really appreciate it!
 

Pixie1984

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Feb 18, 2017
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Yes, the general rule of thumb with chins is that if blood is drawn they shouldn’t be put back together, mainly because they can hold grudges if hurt enough & forgive/forget isn’t guaranteed. Prior to coming to me one of my males was bitten by his brother which drew blood. They were separated into cages next to each other for 4 weeks then re-paired. Within 2 days he’d attacked & killed his brother, it took him less than 30 seconds to do enough damage to be fatal. Since then he’s exhibited extremely territorial, aggressive behave towards any chin that gets near him, so unfortunately can never be bonded to another for their own safety. Re-bonding is of course entirely your choice, but won’t come without risk of retaliation or further attacks.
Since all the chins are male, I wouldn’t expect that a new pair would cause enough upset for an attack to take place. I have 17 chins in one room & 14 in another, new chins have never caused any problems with any of mine. So aside from a random squabble that went a bit far, the only other thing that comes to mind is that all 4 chin were let out to play together. If there was contact between them, it’s possible that either the scent of one of the new ones was carried into the cage of the old pair, which could have caused the other to attack the unfamiliar scent…or, being around more chins has provoked a territorial response in one that’s led to a dominance fight.
If the wound isn’t actively bleeding or weeping, then until you can get to your vet I’d just keep it clean with some cool boiled water. You can also ask the vet while you’re there for a small bottle of iodine. It doesn’t usually cost much, & a couple drops in some water is good for cleaning any future cuts or scrapes.
 

wgm

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UPDATE:

So we've had Hugo and Tito separated, and tempers seem to be settling. However, there's been a complication. I checked and double-checked, and it seems Hugo and Tito (the old pair) may actually be female. What do you think might cause a female to be this aggressive, the scent thing?

Poncho and Nano also had a fight this morning, although it wasn't nearly as bad. There was fur scattered throughout the cage (much less than with Hugo and Tito), but no blood. And when we found them there wasn't any active fighting going on. I've moved Poncho into a carrier until I can rearrange things with the cages again today. I'm hopeful it was just a small, quick scuffle and not as serious as the other fight.

If I'm not wrong, with the old pair turning out to be female, both pairs will have to be permanently caged in separate rooms, won't they?
 

Amethyst

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Females tend to be more territorial then males, in the wild females have territory and males go between herds. So if you had them all out together or had the new ones close to their cage that could cause them to fight, basically redirected aggression on their cage mate since they can't get to the "intruders".

It's very possible you may need to keep them in separate rooms, males in one room females in another. Some bonded chins have no issues being in the same room with the opposite gender, others fight, it sounds like you unfortunately have ones that fight.
 

borwin98

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Apr 11, 2019
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UPDATE:

So we've had Hugo and Tito separated, and tempers seem to be settling. However, there's been a complication. I checked and double-checked, and it seems Hugo and Tito (the old pair) may actually be female. What do you think might cause a female to be this aggressive, the scent thing?

Poncho and Nano also had a fight this morning, although it wasn't nearly as bad. There was fur scattered throughout the cage (much less than with Hugo and Tito), but no blood. And when we found them there wasn't any active fighting going on. I've moved Poncho into a carrier until I can rearrange things with the cages again today. I'm hopeful it was just a small, quick scuffle and not as serious as the other fight.

If I'm not wrong, with the old pair turning out to be female, both pairs will have to be permanently caged in separate rooms, won't they?
If you had all four of your chinchillas running around together, you could end up as I did, with more chinchillas than you planned on.
You will know in roughly 112 days. Keep your eyes open because babies are very small and will fall or jump out of a Ferret Nation cage.
 
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