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Bonding and age difference?

ChocolatPocky

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I recently got a 5 month old chin, Gusgus! (named after the fat Cinderella mouse)

Should I wait until he's a bit older before trying to bond him with my 4-5 year old chin? Once I put Gusgus into his cage across the room from Mr. B's cage, Mr. B got pretty antsy and I'm worried things would be unequal between them. Gusgus is still young and can hardly jump onto any platforms or chew sticks as efficiently as Mr. B can. I'm a bit worried Mr. B might bully him?
 

Amethyst

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I like to wait until they are close to similar size, or at least close to full grown when pairing a kit with an adult. If you just got Gusgus it's best to wait 30 days before doing intros anyway just to allow him to settle in and for any illness to show up before putting them together. By the time the 30 days is over he will be 6 months and a bit bigger, most are close to full size by 6 months.
 

ChocolatPocky

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Its been a few weeks since I got Gusgus, so I picked him up in a little box and brought him a few inches away from Mr. B's cage. (Mr. B's cage is up on a cart so it's higher up off the ground than Gusgus' Critter Nation, they can't really see each other from within their own cages) They are aware that there's another chinchilla around tho, I've swapped toys and they can smell each other.

Upon seeing Gusgus, Mr. B made no noises and at first he would hide in his hut, but eventually came out and stuck his nose out between the bars and was very curious/trying to get closer. Gusgus made no noises either. Just popped his head up to look a bit and then would duck back down.

I guess that's a pretty good interaction so far? They don't seem to be aggressive to each other.
I think I'm gonna move Gusgus up to the 2nd level of the CN cage so him and Mr B can see each other better when I move the cages closer.
 
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ChocolatPocky

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I brought Gusgus up close to Mr. B's cage (but not close enough to touch) two times, and each time Mr. B immediately became aggressive and was definitely not happy to see Gusgus! Gusgus was kind of scared I guess, he was trying to climb around in my arms.

Because of the immediate aggression, would it not be safe to use the squish method with the two? I don't want Gusgus to get hurt.
 

LillyChu

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I suggest keeping their cages next to each other, once things settle down you can try the method of putting them together in a carrier. Just remember it can take several months for them to be ok with each other and once you do the carrier method, they might "fight" but as long as there is no harsh fighting like biting or drawing blood, leave them in, they will eventually settle down. Yes, I hate doing it aswell, but it works really good and maybe while they are in there, you can clean the main cage, make sure to also clean the bars etc so it's a neutral space, don't put any hides in it for about a week once you put them together in the cage after the carrier situation settled down. After that week slowly introduce some toys and eventually when all seems to be ok you can put a hide back, if things are still fine feel free to put everything back into the cage.
 

Amethyst

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I brought Gusgus up close to Mr. B's cage (but not close enough to touch) two times, and each time Mr. B immediately became aggressive and was definitely not happy to see Gusgus! Gusgus was kind of scared I guess, he was trying to climb around in my arms.

Because of the immediate aggression, would it not be safe to use the squish method with the two? I don't want Gusgus to get hurt.
Putting chins up to each other's cages is a bad idea, chins are territorial, so it's not a good indicator. Think of it like a neighbor coming up to your house and peaking in your windows, even if you have seen them around before you will likely not react nicely to that behavior. Intros should be done in as neutral a location as possible, so neither owns claim to the area. Ideally use a room or area that neither has played in yet, or at the very least use the play area but wash it to remove as much scent as possible and use new toys that neither has used yet. Also put out the dust bath so they can bathe together and also some food and hay so they can eat together and get more use to doing things together.

Personally I don't advise the squish/smooth method period, I think it's cruel (just my personal opinion, I know some think it's the best thing ever), you basically have to squeeze them both in a carrier small enough that they can't move (otherwise they could kill each other) and hope it traumatizes them enough that they bond over the shared experience, like a couple of people trapped in a tiny closet. You would also need to watch them 100% of the time to pull them out in case they do fight before it becomes too much of a blood bath if the carrier is not small enough to prevent them moving and fighting.
 

ChocolatPocky

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Ahh my main concern is that they might fight during the smoosh method. It is what the breeder and other breeders in the region recommend. There are pros and cons to bonding quickly and slowly, so I had to consider those. I am open to trying to do some slow method bonding and see if that goes well.

Hmm maybe I can have them meet in the bathroom with a dustbath. The small room they are currently in might be seen as Mr. B's territory, so it might not be neutral. I'm still hesitant to just let them free roam around each other though buuut I'll just be super careful!
 

ChocolatPocky

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Soooo I tried some slow method bonding! I don't trust either of them to free roam around each other yet, so I placed Gusgus in a small cage, partially covered it with a cloth, and placed it in a bathtub. Neither chins have been in this bathtub before. Then I brought Mr. B in to free roam in the tub around the cage.

When Mr. B and Gusgus sniffed each other through the bars, Mr. B lunged! Definitely trying to bite Gusgus, who was just being kind of shy/curious.

Is this a bad sign or do you think Mr. B will eventually get used to Gusgus? :/
 

ChocolatPocky

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Update: I put Mr. B and Gus gus' cage next to each other every night for a month.

At some point I felt there was improvement, Mr. B was no longer trying to get at Gusgus through the bars. So I put Gusgus into a small cage in a bathtub (neutral territory) and let Mr. B free roam around it. Nope! He tried to attack Gusgus through the small cage. Gusgus is definitely more chill, during their first meeting he was a bit scared so he hid in the back of the cage. At the second meeting (after I felt things had cooled off), he's actually curious about Mr. B, and came forward to meet him but Mr. B was aggressive so Gusgus became aggressive too.

After this second meeting, Mr. B appears to have gone back to being kind antsy/aggressive towards Gusgus when their cages are next to each other. Does this mean it wouldn't be worth trying to use other bonding methods (squishing them)? I have read that some chinchillas just can't live with others, how do you know if that's the case?
 

Amethyst

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So you kept them just side by side for a month then after a month tried bonding again with Gusgus in a small cage? Sorry just it hasn't been a month since you last posted so I'm a bit confused on how long you allowed them to just be ok with their cages next to each other without trying to bond them. If they were ok for a month side by side then yeah I would take that reaction in the bathtub as a bad sign. Just like all humans don't like all other humans not all chins like all other chins, so even if they may want to live with another, if the personalities don't mesh it wont work.

If you haven't just let them be for a month then I would just slow way down on trying to bond them, let them be side by side in cages for a month or until they ignore each other, or better yet until they start hanging out (sitting, sleeping, even eating) against the side the cage near each other. Bonding takes time, just like building a friendship with another person, weeks or even months is a fairly normal time frame, but it can take a year or more if you are willing to stick with it that long. If after a few months of trying and allowing them to calm down between interactions you don't see any improvement, or if they actually fight (a lot of chasing, fur slips, and/or blood drawn) when allowed to interact outside of cages then I would say it's time to call it quits. If blood is drawn for sure that is it, fighting the point of drawing blood shows intent to kill, and chins can and do fight to the death, I wouldn't actually trust the aggressor chin with any other chin after that.

As I've said before the squishing method just seems cruel and dangerous, yes I know breeders do it, but there is a lot of things that pet owners and breeders differ on. Personal I would never do it, if not done right chins have gotten badly hurt or even killed, but if you are willing to risk it you can try, I know some people swear by that method. Forcing a bond by get them traumatized enough (for example taking them for a car ride so they are in completely unfamiliar territory/situation) to hopefully bond instead of fight each other though is a big risk, especially since they are showing aggression towards each other.
 

ChocolatPocky

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So you kept them just side by side for a month then after a month tried bonding again with Gusgus in a small cage? Sorry just it hasn't been a month since you last posted so I'm a bit confused on how long you allowed them to just be ok with their cages next to each other without trying to bond them. If they were ok for a month side by side then yeah I would take that reaction in the bathtub as a bad sign. Just like all humans don't like all other humans not all chins like all other chins, so even if they may want to live with another, if the personalities don't mesh it wont work.

If you haven't just let them be for a month then I would just slow way down on trying to bond them, let them be side by side in cages for a month or until they ignore each other, or better yet until they start hanging out (sitting, sleeping, even eating) against the side the cage near each other. Bonding takes time, just like building a friendship with another person, weeks or even months is a fairly normal time frame, but it can take a year or more if you are willing to stick with it that long. If after a few months of trying and allowing them to calm down between interactions you don't see any improvement, or if they actually fight (a lot of chasing, fur slips, and/or blood drawn) when allowed to interact outside of cages then I would say it's time to call it quits. If blood is drawn for sure that is it, fighting the point of drawing blood shows intent to kill, and chins can and do fight to the death, I wouldn't actually trust the aggressor chin with any other chin after that.

As I've said before the squishing method just seems cruel and dangerous, yes I know breeders do it, but there is a lot of things that pet owners and breeders differ on. Personal I would never do it, if not done right chins have gotten badly hurt or even killed, but if you are willing to risk it you can try, I know some people swear by that method. Forcing a bond by get them traumatized enough (for example taking them for a car ride so they are in completely unfamiliar territory/situation) to hopefully bond instead of fight each other though is a big risk, especially since they are showing aggression towards each other.
Yeah it hasn't quite been exactly a month, its a few days less. I was putting their cage close to each other occasionally before that but more consistently doing it the past few weeks. Mr. B seemed to have calmed down last week and that was when I tried re-introducing them to each other again via Gusgus in a small cage. Mr. B is nowhere near the point of being chill with Gusgus near his cage. :/

I get what you're saying with the squish bonding - if it was dangerous and they started fighting in the small cage after I put them in together, I would immediately remove them of course - not interested in them hurting each other whether its via squish or slow intros that lead to fighting. I'm mostly concerned they might fight/hurt each other during the squish method, doesn't mean I don't care about their well being!

They might have to be housed separately then, as I have a 2 level critter nation cage. It would have been nice if they could live together, but I think Mr. B has been living solo for quite a while, and he may just naturally be a grumpy lil puff butt haha
 

Amethyst

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I didn't mean to imply you don't care, I was more covering all bases since some people swear by the squish method and have gotten mad when I say it's risky, lol. Also what I was trying to say is when people have done the smooth method the chins are complete strangers, no prior experiences together, other then maybe being in the same room, so don't have any aggression towards each other going in, already being aggressive towards each other likely increases the risk. The slow intro has it's risks too, but atleast with then loose they can physically run away from each other. But yeah, you do need to wait until they are being chill with being in cages next to each other before allowing them out together.

I wouldn't completely give up yet but thinking about it, at this point I would just leave them in their own cages, near each other, until after the new year before you try again. I don't know if it's the case in your house but the holidays tend to be a stressful/emotional time as it is (more so for most people this year ) and chins can pick up on that. If you are stressed or otherwise just not relaxed, it can make them stress thinking there is a threat, triggering their fight or flight instinct which is no good for trying to bond.

If they don't end up getting along at least know that even having another chin around can prove to be beneficial, like living alone but having a neighbor vs living alone in the middle of nowhere. Knowing there is another of their kind around, even if they don't get along, can help with their mental well being.
 

ChocolatPocky

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I didn't mean to imply you don't care, I was more covering all bases since some people swear by the squish method and have gotten mad when I say it's risky, lol. Also what I was trying to say is when people have done the smooth method the chins are complete strangers, no prior experiences together, other then maybe being in the same room, so don't have any aggression towards each other going in, already being aggressive towards each other likely increases the risk. The slow intro has it's risks too, but atleast with then loose they can physically run away from each other. But yeah, you do need to wait until they are being chill with being in cages next to each other before allowing them out together.

I wouldn't completely give up yet but thinking about it, at this point I would just leave them in their own cages, near each other, until after the new year before you try again. I don't know if it's the case in your house but the holidays tend to be a stressful/emotional time as it is (more so for most people this year ) and chins can pick up on that. If you are stressed or otherwise just not relaxed, it can make them stress thinking there is a threat, triggering their fight or flight instinct which is no good for trying to bond.

If they don't end up getting along at least know that even having another chin around can prove to be beneficial, like living alone but having a neighbor vs living alone in the middle of nowhere. Knowing there is another of their kind around, even if they don't get along, can help with their mental well being.
At the moment they are both in my small office, so its a bit tight with 2 large cages! Which is why I was hoping they woudl get along sooner - if I was in a bigger room with more space to maneuver 2 large cages that would be much easier to go slow.

Doh, because Mr. B already has grumpy feelings towards Gus gus, maybe the smoosh method is not the way to go. I'm going to monitor them some more before deciding if its worth trying to stick to bonding them, or just have them be neighbors! Because the cages are stacked they won't be able to see each other unfortunately (but at least hear/smell each other?)

Thanks for your feedback tho! I get that the squish method is controversial. I worry more about injuries and building animosity between them, not so much if they will be emotionally hurt (I feel I emotionally scar them every time I try to get them out of their cages.. why do they even trust me anymore!) They seem to bounce back pretty quick whenever I get them out of their cages or go to vet etc. I try to do what I can to help them feel safe and comfortable bc they're my fluff babies! :D
 
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