Help with introductions

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Ohdear

New member
Joined
Sep 21, 2015
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3
Hi all, I hope you guys don't mind me gatecrashing your forum for some advice. I've read practically everything I can find on introducing chins and chin behaviour and although I think I've got the basics there is a lot of conflicting and counter-intuitive advice out there. I'd appreciate it if someone a bit more experienced was able to take the time to read this and offer their thoughts:

My first chin, Zeus, was an adoption from a chain petstore - his cagemate died and the shop couldn't sell him after quite a few months so they put him up for adoption. The staff definitely cared but didn't handle him perfectly and didn't have enough time for him so he was a bit neglected. We take on rescue animals from time to time so we're used to odd behaviour (odder than neglected chainstore pets) but he is our first Chin.

We got him home and got a bit of trust going with him. We spent time in the day with him and although he still hates being picked up he is happy to sit on my head and groom me and seemed happy and pleased with his new home. We can't be with him all the time so we always hoped to get him a partner. He always seemed a bit lonely: we took the cat in once to try and remove some of the mystery from the room (to stop him trying to get in all the time) and Zeus just sat up, grabbed some food and tried to feed the cat through the bars of his cage!

So after about six months alone with us step forward Chin 2, Hades, who is about 14 weeks old. We got him from a registered breeder who advised just shoving them both in a neutral cage and letting them work it out themselves while staying on hand in case it went wrong. We decided not to do that. They both have their own cage currently at either end of their bedroom.

At playtime we let them both out in a room together and they were pretty much ok. They ignored each other for a bit, bathed and bounced around - then they started paying a bit of attention to each other. We had expected Zeus to be dominant and no surprises - he was although it was Hades who approached first. Zeus was very affectionate and followed Hades around a bit, groomed him and of course tried mounting. Hades was a little overwhelmed and (rather understandably) hid and squeaked disapproval. We gently steered Zeus away when we could see Hades getting crowded and then popped Hades back in his cage and let Zeus make his own way home.

Day 2 was the same again except with quicker contact, more grooming and more failed attempts at mounting with Hades shooting off like a bullet every time Zeus tried it. He would always happily come back though. After a while there was a loud protest a very brief scuffle and mutual grumbling - there was no blood or slipped fur but it looked to us like there had been an attempted bite. It was so quick we couldn't work out who it was but we separated them immediately.

Day 3 we let one out at a time. Zeus first and he did his usual tour of the room. then went to the other cage. The sniffed through the wire and made contact sounds at each other but after a while Hades became a bit restless and defensive of his area. We moved Zeus back from him and despite a few clever tries to get back to the cage he finished his runabout and went home.

Next we let Hades out. I made sure I paid loads of attention to Zeus when he was coming out and carried on talking to him. Zeus got a bit frustrated and was jumping around a lot. There was a bit of teeth chattering at me but mostly just bouncing, scrabbling at the cage door and contact noises.

Now here's the dodgy bit: my interpretation. I think that Zeus is actually very friendly but just a bit overwhelming. I don't know Hades well enough yet to say more than 'he doesn't like being pestered too much'.

Our plan, such as it is, is to let them out separately for another night or two in the hope that Hades gets a bit more confidence and Zeus calms down and then try joint playtime again. What worries me is that I might be completely misreading the situation or even actually turning them against each other by making them jealous. Does anyone have any thoughts they are able to share?

Thank you so much and sorry for the long post.
 

Ohdear

New member
Joined
Sep 21, 2015
Messages
3
I guess you do mind then :/

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my wall of text. All the best ;)
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2015
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Location
Corvallis, OR
I don't have experience introducing chins, but I have read a lot on here that some chins just don't want or need a cage mate, and they may never click the way you want. Even if Zeus does want a friend in his cage Hades may prefer to be on his own
 

Cass C

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Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
154
Honestly Chinchillas are picky about cage mates. I have a bonded pair and I have had to rebond them after a neuter and I was very close to throwing in the towel and keeping them seperate. Based on the described behavior I would say they may not bond to eachother. Are you sure that it's grooming and not trying to pull on eachother' fur? Being territorial is not uncommon, but it also means they don't desire a cage mate.

They are not like a dog that you can usually pick any two friendly dogs and throw them in a room together and eventually they will be friends. Chinchillas are even known for turning on their cage mates for seemingly no reason, so always be prepared to keep them seperate forever.
 

Airyn

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Joined
Aug 23, 2010
Messages
835
Location
Pennsylvania
The commonly accepted best practice is to keep the new chin quarantined for a month. The primary reasons for that are to minimize the risk of disease, and to allow the new chin to settle into his surroundings. If you haven't done that, you might want to go backwards just so that you can establish trust with Hades before you try to get Hades to establish trust with Zeus. It sounds like you're expecting 2 chins to be bonded in a week, and that's an unrealistic expectation.

The mounting behavior is a battle for dominance. It sounds to me like Zeus has fully established that he's the dominant chinchilla and Hades knows it, which makes him uneasy. I'd keep them separated for about a week with their cages on opposite sides of the room. Let Hades settle in and get to know him. If Hades isn't jumping on your arm, shoulder and head, he doesn't trust you, and that needs to happen first. Once he trusts you, he'll be more likely to trust Zeus. At that point, move their cages closer together. See how they react. If Hades is hiding in his box all the time and Zeus is chattering, move the cages further apart. If all is well, push them a little closer together. The goal here is to get them curious about each other and used to each other's scents and behaviors. Give them individual playtime for at least another 2 weeks. Once they're curious about each other, you can give the joint playtime a shot again, but I'd really give it at least a month before you attempt it again.

Also, make sure your attention is divided completely equally between them at every interaction. It takes some chins months to trust, and as Cass said, sometimes it just doesn't happen.
 
Last edited:

Cuddlebug

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Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
2,907
Location
Aurora, Colorado
If you go to the FAQs there is a section on introducing chins. Read it over before trying another time. There are many methods that work way better and are safer than shared playtime. My preference is cage within a cage.
 
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