Colony Breeding cage

Joined
Jan 19, 2019
Messages
5
Location
Uk
Hi. So I was thinking about starting a breeding colony in my big 4ft x 7ft cage. It will have 3 or 4 females and one Male.

Shall I put in shelves or not and if so how high up the walls should they be? The roof is 6ft tall.

Disclaimer - I am aware of the risks and have plenty of other cages in case things don’t go to plan.

Thank you for reading.
 

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
1,707
Location
Alberta
It would depend on your set up, are there any levels? 6 foot high ceiling is really high, unless you have levels to it, most breeding cages are no more then 2 feet high. You want to make sure the chins can't fall more then a foot or they can get seriously hurt or die. Also if it's a wire cage kits will climb it, so you will need to make sure they can't climb up more then a foot high (there is a reason normal breeding cages are so small/short). In a normal breeding setup shelving is generally removed shortly before birth so the mother doesn't fall and hurt the unborn kits and can't get away from the kits once they are born.
 
Joined
Jan 19, 2019
Messages
5
Location
Uk
The only level that is in there now is 1ft above the ground. 3 sides of the walls are wood and the other is 1cm x 1cm mesh but it has a guard that is about 1.5ft up, stopping them from climbing. We used to have about 20 other ledges, some as safety, but I recently removed them as the cage was temporarily housing guinea pigs. I also didn’t want to put them back in as most are too high for kits.

Would this be ok?
I tried to upload a photo but it won’t let me.
 

Amethyst

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
1,707
Location
Alberta
Chins can jump 5 feet (kits easily a foot or two once they are old enough) I don't think that a guard is going to prevent them from just jumping higher then it and climbing up unless it extends up pretty far and they can't jump up onto it. Or maybe I'm not understanding, without seeing it it's hard to say.

The photo attachment feature on the forum here doesn't seem to work most of the time. You are better off uploading the photos to a photo share site and then linking them.
 

tunes

Administrator/Owner
Staff member
Admin
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
9,839
Location
South Dakota
One foot up is okay, but can still pose a danger to the kits. I prefer not to have any shelves in my cages so mom has to be by her offspring. Sometimes moms, especially new moms, go up high because they are uncertain of what to do. This leads to the kits not getting proper nutrition. Also, should mom give birth on the shelf, it is possible for the kit to be hurt if they fall after birth. It's not a huge distance, but it's enough if a newborn kit lands wrong. I would take out shelves until after kits are born and are able to be without mom for a while.

Something to consider with colony breeding - not all chins are great at it. Sometimes, what seems like an awesome group isn't so awesome after kits are born. Some mothers become super protective, dads can get super spazzy, other moms may be mean to offspring not their own. I have used colony breeding for many years, but I'm also very careful to keep an eye on them and am quick to act if needed. Also, I know it's a strange thing to think of, but color of your chins together. I've heard from several different people that they had females give birth at the same time, and they have no idea whose kits belong to who because moms and dad were all beige. Just something to keep in mind.

Lastly, you'll want to be very vigilant of your moms and remove dad once pregnancy is confirmed in any of them. Otherwise, you're going to risk breedback after breedback. It's not healthy for the female.
 

keala

Active member
Joined
Jan 19, 2019
Messages
25
Location
Iowa
We did pretty thoroughly investigate the idea of colony breeding at one point. In my experience multiple females sharing space while breeding looks to always go badly eventually. For a single round of litters I give it some chance of working with VERY careful choices of who you attempt to house together and a lot of experience observing animals in similar colony housing situations. If you keep exposing them to the male, which is another list of issues to solve, they continually have more and more problems until the group falls apart. We did 8-10' long, several feet wide cages, 2' high with one 8-10" high shelf down the length and a few 6-8" tall houses. Plus some pvc tubes. We attempted a few groups with 2-4 related females per chosen male. Preferably never separated siblings or at least caged next to each other for the past year.

While we didn't have any major incidences we only got to the point of a 3rd breeding in one group and otherwise not even all females having their second litter in the other groups before we separated them back to their own space to avoid something serious occurring. Unlike with other animals the issues of hierarchy that happened when litters were born did not resolve as the kits grew up. They only got worse with each litter born until at least one female would be constantly run off and stressed as the others tried to claim the entire space and all resources. We mostly attempted all younger siblings but the longest lasting group we tried 1 older female who had been successfully left sharing a cage with 2 of her most recent daughters until they were a year old. I had hoped an obviously dominant female in an already established trio would result in a more stable group long term but one of the daughters started to challenge her with the first set of litters. The older mother got more defensive, argued more with the one daughter, and both of those started taking it out on the more reserved daughter.

That same thing happened in every group. Eventually someone comes out on top and someone comes out on bottom. Whoever is on bottom gets increasingly run off until they are at risk of not caring for their next litter. If more than one is on top you steadily see more serious signs of potential fighting with each litter any of them have. Attempting older females that had produced 2-3 litters before resulted in those problems the quickest.

With other animals I can usually get the cage/pen setup so they can take over a little area to themselves for a few days or I can easily barricade them apart for a few days until the female settles and the new offspring integrate into the group. Any stress or disagreements are temporary and everyone goes back to how they were within the week. That did not happen with chinchillas. Once they argued over a new litter the relationship between them was ruined and kept degrading the following months.

Short of using a room sized cage I just don't see that you can give chinchillas enough floor space to not start overly competing in that situation. Even that might not work without an increase in lost litters. Some females might repeatedly abandon areas the others begin to use before their kits are old enough to keep up. You also can't really break up line of sight with lots of tall and complex objects the way we did with rabbit breeding colonies. Chinchillas are too athletic and active for the objects to have as much affect and it increases the risk of kit neglect or injuries. If I could temperature control and definitely prevent escape in the 12x24' horse stalls I've used for small animals before or turn my block basement into loose chin housing I might test it out again but without at least the massive floor space before getting to the other issues I decided it's not a viable idea.
 

Latest posts



Top