Fighting or Playing?

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MelodyR

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How do you differentiate fighting among cagemates fronm playing? A couple of mine will kack at a cagemate when they want to get chased and play; it's in fun, not aggression. One 3-level FN has my 5 yr old male in with two 7 month old brothers and that's what they do. I have never seen an angry encounter however.

My other 3-level FN has 4 young males (5-8 months old). All came from the same breeder, 3 were already living together (only recently, at the breeders)and I added the oldest at the same time I brought them home. They came home in the same carrier almost a month ago, no problem. Leche and Latte had one stand-off with each other, where Leche backed Latte into a corner (this was when they were in their smaller temp cage) but there was no actual physical attack - they were just both standing up facing each other. Leche is the most active, Latte is the most submissive and was the "4th" one added when I got them. Latte is the oldest, Leche is the youngest and the smallest -- and the MOST active of all four.

They are starting to hit puberty, so the humping and chasing has started. But I don't see any fighting per se. What my concern is - there's an emergency thread on here for Latte -- last Fri Latte got a cut below his ear. I am almost positive he did it to himself hitting something when he was running up and down the levels. It does not look like a bite. But how can I be sure? I was sitting two feet away from them, and watched as they all went on a popcorning and running spree. I was looking right at them and I STILL could not tell how it happened! He's doing fine now, thankfully.

But reading about the killings and attacks by cagemates on here has made me a nervous wreck. Would I see other signs of fighting if in fact it was occurring? There are no NO fur slips, no extra fur lying around, no bites. No aggressive postures. I think they are just playing and dominance humping.:pillowfight:

I have done alot of intros and luckily have never had an issue even after years later, but the posts make me nervous. I work during tax season like 12 hrs a day, so they are alone alot. However, they are housed in my bedroom, where I watch TV as well, right next to their cage, so I am pretty much with them all night.

I keep telling myself no one sits by their pet's cage 24/7, so there is nothing I can do but keep an eye on things.

There have been no other incidences since the original injury (again I think it was an self-inflicted accident, not a bite).

Any suggestions? I hate to separate them on a whim or imaginary concern. They were totally peaceful all weekend (other than the usual zoomies), eat out the same dish (there are four), etc.
 
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tunes

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Would I see other signs of fighting if in fact it was occurring?
Sadly, no. That's the tragic part. You can go to bed to chins cuddling, and wake up in the morning to a severely beaten or dead chinchilla. That's why it's always so shocking. You just don't expect it.

I would be extremely careful of lots of rearing up on the hind legs, as that can definitely be the precursor to a lot more aggressive activity. If it was me, I would whack all their whiskers off short, leave them maybe an inch, and give them a good long time to grow back in, taking them off again if you see any aggressive behavior. I had to do this with a cage of four weanlings, believe it or not. They were all kacking and nagging. I took their whiskers off and it's been about 5 months now with nary a kack. There is occasional noise when they all four try and fit on or in the house at the same time, but that's mostly the thud sound when one gets pushed off. :)
 

MelodyR

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No, there was only the one incident of the rearing up on hind legs, and that was weeks ago, nothing since. But I do like your idea of whacking off the whiskers - I never thought of that! That sounds like a great idea!!! Should I do the vanilla on the nose for a few days also? Just a thought.
 

tunes

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If they are already together, the vanilla probably won't do a lot of good, but you can try it. It certainly won't hurt them.
 

chinsmom

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Nov 19, 2009
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Theodore, Alabama
Hi
I hate to be stupid, but what does the "whacking of the whiskers" and putting vanilla(is this vanilla extract?) on the chin's nose do? I'm relatively new at this, and these sound like some of those helprul hints that I may need to learn. Also, what are some sources can I go to to get more information on posturing, popcorning, ect. I'm familiar with the dominance humping, I really have more experience with dogs, I have only one chin, who I got about 3 to 3 1/2 months ago. I do want another one, but that's only a want. I don't know if my little Chinzilla would want another one. I don't have room for two cages, and I don't want any unhappy I've been reading a lot of posts about the many rescues, and I'm sure that if I am lucky enough to get another baby, I will go that route. I've read on this site somewhere that it is a good idea to have the chins meet prior to bringing another little one home. There's a chin rescue in New Orleans, which is not but a little over two hour drive from where I live. Of course, before I can do it, I'll have to get past my husband, "the head of the house" - I've already starting to work on that! I don't have room for two cages, hence the meeting. Of course, this may sound stupid too, because the two of them may do fine on the first meeting, but may not be the best of buds afterward. I'm fully aware that I may end up having to get another cage anyway - whatever's best for the kids! any and all information, advice, ect. will be gratefully accepted.:hmm:
 
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CerLynn

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Trimming whiskers and dabbing vanilla are both ways to make the chinchilla "less sensitive" to newly introduced chins, for a lack of better words. The whisker trimming may have something to do with dominance/aggression as well, as dominant chins will sometimes trim the whiskers of their cagemates.

As far as getting another chin, IMO, if you don't have the space/resources/whatnot for housing it separately if need be, you shouldn't be getting one. The new chin would need to be quarantined for 30 days in a separate room anyway, which would require a second cage. As far as I know, meeting ahead of time is not a common practice, and I can't see it being all that useful anyway (and would negate quarantining), as introductions are usually a gradual process.
 

tunes

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I've read on this site somewhere that it is a good idea to have the chins meet prior to bringing another little one home.
I can't imagine a reputable rescue that would do this. That could put your chin, and theirs, at risk. Not to mention, your chin is going to be out of sorts because of the drive, so introducing him to a new chin at that point is definitely not the same thing as in his home environment and in his cage. If you want a second chin, having a second cage is mandatory. If you don't have room for a second cage, then it would be better to wait until you do before adding a second chin. You would need that second cage to observe a 30 day quarantine regardless. If floor space is an issue, check into a Ferret Nation 142. Same floor space, but can be split into two cages.
 

chinsmom

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Aaaaahhhhhhhhh, sounds suspiciously like a good idea to me, thanks!! Again, these are things I've been reading, this is why I ask. Any suggestions for good books on chin behaviour? Would love to find some. Will also be getting with my vet on this as well. Thanks again!!
 
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Stackie

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There aren't any books that I know of that are up to date and accurate with chinchilla information. This forum is a great place to read up on information on chins. Do a search and you can usually find anything you're looking for.
 
C

Carol~Anne

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Not an expert on chin behaviour but have done a lot of observing with my own guys and I have to say that I've never really seen much playing between them. The physical contact has either been b/c they're settling a dominance issue and will hump, chase and squeak or grooming where they are very docile and nibble on each other and are very quiet. I'm saying this b/c in my observation, chinchillas do not play like let's say cats and dogs do.
 
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Carol~Anne

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If you have a few young males together (not sure about females, I only have males) in the same cage then I'd strongly suggest you get two water bottles, two food bowls, hay bins, basically two of everything that they could be squabbling over.

I only have my guys in pairs and they are very good about sharing and there's plenty of room in the cages for them to go to get away from each other including a few different sleeping places.

These two new guys I have together are a bit different though and the big standard boy Buster (that name suits him perfectly) is definitely the dominant one and has to be the first at everything: eating, drinking, checking out any new toy etc. His buddy Rupert doesn't seem to mind though and it does appear he just accepts this behaviour from his bossy cage mate.

Yesterday I picked up four lava dots, one for each cage but when I put one into their cage Buster immediately went over to it and claimed it as his own. I decided to put another one in and right away he wanted that one too but since he couldn't be in two places he settled on the second one I put in. I guess he preferred the pink one. :rolleyes:
 

MelodyR

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I have the young foursome in a 3-level Ferret Nation Cage 143. I also have two of the half-shelves in there, so it makes 5 levels altogether. I have both my FNs set up pretty much the same way - except one has the Chin Spin and one the Flying Saucer.

There are food dishes, hay cubes, and water bottles on every level, and a few extra smaller food dishes here and there. They have 3 wooden houses, 2 hammocks, cozybeds, chubes, multiple wooden shelves, fleece covered PVC tubes attached to the sides of the cage, and more than a dozen toys - both hanging and carryabout.

The bottom level also has a large hay holder and the ChinSpin/Flying Saucer. If I added much more, I wouldn't be able to see the chins - LOL. I never see them fight over the food or toys or anything, though like kids, they seem most attracted to whatever toy/house/piece of hay their buddy has.

I do think my chins play. My other original trio has this thing where if one is asleep and another wants to play, he'll go right up to his face and kack just to get the sleepy head to wake up and chase him - the zoomie attack. They will steal toys from each other, and play tug of war with toys and hay strands or sticks. I think chasing and stealing ARE their forms of play! They will literally line up and take turns on the Flying Saucer.

The foursome doesn't seem to interact as much yet, but then they are newer to each other and everything. I just finished their FN cage ten days ago, and keep adding stuff so their surroundings aren't settled yet.

With all the levels of their respective FNs and all the hiding places, I can't imagine what else I could do to entertain them and keep them from fighting.

They seem to have their pouty sessions too. The two that were best friends last week now prefer to sleep separately - they keep switching around. But everything is peaceful at the moment.
 

mishellyshel

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If you have a few young males together (not sure about females, I only have males) in the same cage then I'd strongly suggest you get two water bottles, two food bowls, hay bins, basically two of everything that they could be squabbling over.
i agree. i just got two younger males and the first night there was only one bowl and i didnt like the way they were acting, i immediately put a second bowl.......opposite side of cage with a second water bottle and havnt heard a peep since.
 
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Carol~Anne

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Hmm, well maybe chins are a bit playful with each other when they're young but I've never had two youngsters together at the same time so I've never seen it.

Zeke does get cheeky with Pip and will kinda chase him around and get in his face but I can tell that Pip doesn't like it and he avoids him, chirps at him and then runs away. He also tends to lose a bit of fluff and looks more aggravated than anything.

Maybe those with younger chins observe more playful behaviour than I have with my older ones.
 

MelodyR

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Ft Lauderdale, FL
If it was me, I would whack all their whiskers off short, leave them maybe an inch, and give them a good long time to grow back in, taking them off again if you see any aggressive behavior. I had to do this with a cage of four weanlings, believe it or not. They were all kacking and nagging. I took their whiskers off and it's been about 5 months now with nary a kack. :)
Thanks, Tunes -- that worked perfectly. I cut the whiskers short on the most hyper chin ((Leche), and now peace reigns supreme. I had not actually witnessed any overt fighting, but Leche (the youngest and the smallest) was a royal adolescent PITA who always wanted to control everything and everyone. Now they all have fun playing and chasing but he has cut out the dominance issues. Even Latte (the shyest) joins in now instead of hiding from him. Everyone take turns sleeping with one another (sounds like Deperate Housewives), and nicely sharing. :hug2:

The other thing I tried was giving them dust baths (2 bathhouses) every other day during the past week. It tires them out so they are less "frisky" and makes them smell all alike - lol. Whatever, it worked.

Will continue to monitor closely, but this past week has been peaceful.
 
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