Not chewing - and other newbie questions/concerns

Shadow1120

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Dec 9, 2020
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Hello Everyone,
I just adopted my first chin a week and a half ago. He is a standard gray 8 month old male. He has not shown any interest or chewed on any of his woods, loofa, pumice, bay cubes,or straw we have given him. He only chews on the seagrass occasionally that I used to make one of his toys. I've tried hanging them up and taking them apart to spike some interest but he couldn't care less. He also eats less than 1 tablespoon of Oxbow pellets and about half his size in Oxbow hay each day. He loves the few oats and single goji berry we give him. Do you think this is normal and he is just getting comfortable with his new setting? Also, he seems only to poo at night. There will be some during the day but not anywhere near the amount at night. Again normal or cause for alarm? One last item of concern is he won't let me touch him. I have put my hands/arm in his cage and he will come and jump on them but as soon as I try to scratch him or touch his back he runs away. He comes back and will hop on me again as if to say "I can touch you, but you may not touch me". Please let me know if any of this sounds normal and perhaps I am expecting too much too soon, or if you think I might have a problem. Thank you for your help!!
 

ChocolatPocky

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Dec 30, 2019
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Hello Everyone,
I just adopted my first chin a week and a half ago. He is a standard gray 8 month old male. He has not shown any interest or chewed on any of his woods, loofa, pumice, bay cubes,or straw we have given him. He only chews on the seagrass occasionally that I used to make one of his toys. I've tried hanging them up and taking them apart to spike some interest but he couldn't care less. He also eats less than 1 tablespoon of Oxbow pellets and about half his size in Oxbow hay each day. He loves the few oats and single goji berry we give him. Do you think this is normal and he is just getting comfortable with his new setting? Also, he seems only to poo at night. There will be some during the day but not anywhere near the amount at night. Again normal or cause for alarm? One last item of concern is he won't let me touch him. I have put my hands/arm in his cage and he will come and jump on them but as soon as I try to scratch him or touch his back he runs away. He comes back and will hop on me again as if to say "I can touch you, but you may not touch me". Please let me know if any of this sounds normal and perhaps I am expecting too much too soon, or if you think I might have a problem. Thank you for your help!!
Pooping at night is pretty normal - that's when they're eating. If he's pooping, that's good! You're in trouble if he's not pooping.

He might just not like the batch of hay you have, try mixing it up with some orchard grass or buy a different brand. (the hay should smell great in the bag and be a dull green). Sometimes my chins are picky about the hay I feed them. Has to be fresh!

One of my chins is about 7-8 months old too, he doesn't eat much pellets. Maybe about 1tbsp as well? But he eats a ton of hay and apple sticks (they can also be v picky about apple stick quality).

If your chin wasn't really socialized then yeah he's not comfortable being touched. Most chins do not like having their body touched by someone they just met. My newest chin would only let me gently touch his chin at first, then he eventually let me pet him elsewhere, but still doesn't like being petted on the head - which I think is just his own personal quirk. Just be patient and spend lots of time in the same room as the chin, hang out in front of the open cage so he can get used to hearing/seeing you and not seeing you as a threat. Be patient, it's only been a week! Give him at least a month or more to get settled.
 

Shadow1120

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Dec 9, 2020
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Thank you so much for your time/reply. I'm just concerned that he isn't eating enough. I will try adding a different type of hay to his existing batch and if that doesn't do the trick I will try another brand of hay. Besides Oxbow what is another quality brand?
 

Amethyst

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Not chewing on toys is not a good sign, you may need to get his teeth checked. Chins teeth grow all the time so they have to be chewing on toys to wear down the front teeth and eating hay to wear down the molars (as well as provide enough fiber in the diet). Do you have chew sticks (like small sticks or twigs of chin safe wood, apple wood tends to be a favorite) to give him? if so does he have any interest in those? It hasn't been that long yet though, it takes most chins at least a week to settle in, but up to a month is not uncommon, and can take longer if not treated well before you got him. If you don't notice him still not really chewing toys after a month a vet visit is a good idea. Most chins interact on their own terms, they don't freely trust you have to prove you can be trusted, which takes time. Think of it like building a friendship, it doesn't normally happen quickly, they live a long time (15-20 years or more) so they have time to be cautious.

Some chins eat a bit less then others, 2 tbs of pellets a day is just the average, some eat a bit more and some a bit less. Ideally he should be eating a pile of hay about the size of him a day. I would keep a weight on him though to make sure he isn't loosing weight, at his age he should actually still be gaining. Their primary diet should be hay, pellets, and water. I'm not sure how much treats you are giving but, oat should be a limited treat, just a few oats a week, they are gassy (which can cause bloat which is fatal if not treated) as well as can throw the calcium/phosphorous balance off in the diet if given too much. Some people are now advising against giving oats (as well as cheerios and shredded wheat) as treats, not only for the reasons I mentioned but also the chemicals used on commercial crops have been linked to cancer. To be fair the studies have show that a human would have to eat a lot to be at risk, so may not pose a threat to chins, but a chin is smaller then a human though, but I figured I'd give you all the info so you can decide. The goji berries are a once a month treat, they a lower in sugar then other berries and fruit but still do contain sugar, personally I don't give them at all, but are safe like a human having a candy bar is "safe". I posted a whole list of safe treats here Treats (it's from earlier this year so does still have the oats, cheerios, and shredded wheat on it)

When it comes to hay, hay is hay regardless of brand so for example the timothy hay of one brand is pretty much the same nutritionally as the timothy of another brand, the best brand is what your chin will eat. If you are in the US I know a lot of people recommend the Small Pets Select hay, I've never tried it since I don't live in the US so I can't vouch for it myself though. You can also try some of the other types of hay put out by Oxbow, the orchard and meadow hays can be given daily in addition to the timothy (you can even get premixed bags), the botanical is timothy with some herbal treats in it so more a treat hay (like a handful worth a week), and the oat hay being a grain which can be gassy should be the same as botanical, about a handful worth a week.

When you say he isn't pooping during the day are you just talking when he is asleep? or even when awake? The way a chin's digestive tract works they pretty much need to be pooping every minute or so when awake, about 200+ poops a day. Lack of lots of poop as well as small poop could be a sign of gas or a blockage.
 

Shadow1120

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I have given him some small colorful pieces of wood you would use to make a hanging toy with, small apple twigs, yucca wood rounds, and a banana leaf ball - he's not interested in any of them.

Thank you for the treats list. It sounds like we have been giving him too many. I was trying to build a positive experience using them more than I think I should be. How would you advise me to weigh him if I can't pick him up? Lure him onto the scale using what?

I did buy some Oxbow Orchard hay and he seems to be eating that a little bit. We'll see how much more he eats tonight.

When I said he wasn't pooping during the day I meant I didn't see any at all. I brush down the cage all in the morning before work around 7:00 and there was still nothing when I came home around 5:00. Although today there were some (I'm assuming because he ate the Orchard hay during the day)

Thank you for your reply!
 

Amethyst

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The easiest way to weigh them would be in a small box, or if the dust bath you have is enclosed you can use that. So for example put the chin in the box (or scoop him up out of the cage with the box), weigh the box with the chin in it, then take the chin out and weigh the box again (or you can weigh it before putting the chin in), and subtract the weight of the box to find out the weight of the chin. Since chins weigh so little it's best to weigh them in grams, so a kitchen or postage scale work well for that.
 

Shadow1120

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I guess I should have thought of that!!! I think my brain has turned to mush.

Thank you!
 

JamaisVu

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From experience - some chins are very picky others not at all.

My Kumo used to chew on anything and was not picky about toys/food/treats. Everything interested him and he would give anything a try.

Susu, on the other hand, is an extra picky chin. She stopped eating the Oxbow-brand hay (to be fair to her, I did think the quality has dropped a bit) so now I buy farmer Dave's (she loves this). She only likes rose hips and oats for treats, has refused all others her whole life. She seems downright offended when I offer loofah, and has only a bit of interest in pumice or most woods. She likes apple and only twigs she can easily lift. She likes toys well enough, but is very particular about what she likes and often just prefers the apple twigs. She's a little diva but that's just who she is so I've learned what she likes and adapted to it. Maybe your chin is picky...keep trying!

In regards to petting, it can take a while for some chins to accept being pet. I started hand-offering treats and softly petting while they were getting the treat. Sometimes I'd get protest squeaks but little by little they learned that I was not trying to handle them and became more willing (and sometimes eager!) to be pet in their favorite spots. Chinchillas are not naturally cuddly animals so I wouldn't have that as a goal. Just the fact that he's willing to jump on you is huge if you've only had him a week and a half. I understand it's hard to be patient, but give him some time. Don't push his limits too fast and I'm sure you will bond with him wonderfully.
 

Shadow1120

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Thank you for your reply that makes me feel a little better!! I'm taking him to the vet today just for a general check-up. Hopefully they will be able to put some of my worries to rest.
 

Shadow1120

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Good news!!! The vet said his teeth look perfect and has a clean bill of health! She did mention that I could give him a small amount of raw veggies - greens that are low in calcium and oxalates such as arugula, bibb lettuce, cilantro, dill, and romaine. Do any of you feed your chinchillas any of these?
 

JamaisVu

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Good news!!! The vet said his teeth look perfect and has a clean bill of health! She did mention that I could give him a small amount of raw veggies - greens that are low in calcium and oxalates such as arugula, bibb lettuce, cilantro, dill, and romaine. Do any of you feed your chinchillas any of these?
Was it an exotic specialist? This seems more of what you'd recommend for a rabbit/guinea pig.

From my knowledge you'd want to avoid fresh veggies with chinchillas at all cost, but I'll defer to more experienced members in this forum.
 

Amethyst

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Good news!!! The vet said his teeth look perfect and has a clean bill of health! She did mention that I could give him a small amount of raw veggies - greens that are low in calcium and oxalates such as arugula, bibb lettuce, cilantro, dill, and romaine. Do any of you feed your chinchillas any of these?
How exactly did they examine the teeth? I realize do to covid you may not know if you have to wait in the car, but hopefully they told you. Did they do x-rays, a camera scope, or just looked at the front teeth? Without a camera scope they can't see the molars, which also grow and can be prone to tooth spurs if the teeth aren't perfect, and without x-rays they can't see if the roots are a problem.

No, you do not want to give your chin raw veggies, even ones that aren't high in calcium or sugars. They can cause diarrhea, which can cause dehydration quickly, as well as gas and bloat, which can be fatal for chins since they can't burp or fart (they can pass gas as they poop but can't pass gas alone). Unfortunately most vets seem to lump chins with guinea pigs and rabbits, because they have a similar diet of mostly hay and pellets, but that is pretty much where it stops. Some other vets seem to be aware of the issue it can cause but figure the risk is worth it because they contain vitamins and minerals, but if fed a good quality pellet they shouldn't need any extra nutrients. Also unlike both those other animals chins are from a semi arid climate (much higher up the mountains the guinea pigs live) so they didn't evolve to be able to properly digest things like veggies or fruits like rabbits and guinea pigs.
 

Shadow1120

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Dec 9, 2020
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It was very difficult to find any exotic vet within an hour drive or so of my home so I only really have three choices. I guess this one isn't has good as I had hoped. Perhaps I'll try one of the others.

I haven't read anything in my research about giving them any fresh veggies so I haven't - good thing!
 

trg005

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I have 4 teenagers. All Male. All 4 have different personalities. 1 is grumpy another is brilliant, then I have one who has not grasped dust bath concept! Finally, my screamer/roadrunner. All 4 like sketches however on their terms. 1 plays dead. For attention, I am guessing he does this for attention vs out of fear since he opens 1 eye to see what I think. Glad he doesn't read minds:) Your baby is learning his environment, his new friend, you, freedom and boundaries. The two of you will play and communicate one day soon. He will train you:) and this will be your new norm. Remember, chins are great "family members" do not concern or compare your chin to others in our community. Or get 3 more and you will learn quickly chinchillas are vastly different, mentally?!
Farmer Dave is my boys preference as well. 3rd cut timothy hay. Hay cubes.
Nola chin Rescue & Rondas both sell excellent twigs. Apple wood. Rondas does sell samplers that you can try. Diff wood sticks that are of twig size. May need to try twigs for a bit good luck N
 

Shadow1120

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Dec 9, 2020
Messages
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I have 4 teenagers. All Male. All 4 have different personalities. 1 is grumpy another is brilliant, then I have one who has not grasped dust bath concept! Finally, my screamer/roadrunner. All 4 like sketches however on their terms. 1 plays dead. For attention, I am guessing he does this for attention vs out of fear since he opens 1 eye to see what I think. Glad he doesn't read minds:) Your baby is learning his environment, his new friend, you, freedom and boundaries. The two of you will play and communicate one day soon. He will train you:) and this will be your new norm. Remember, chins are great "family members" do not concern or compare your chin to others in our community. Or get 3 more and you will learn quickly chinchillas are vastly different, mentally?!
Farmer Dave is my boys preference as well. 3rd cut timothy hay. Hay cubes.
Nola chin Rescue & Rondas both sell excellent twigs. Apple wood. Rondas does sell samplers that you can try. Diff wood sticks that are of twig size. May need to try twigs for a bit good luck N
Thank you for your reply I got a good chuckle reading it this morning!!! Lots of people to seem to like Farmer Dave, we'll have to give him a try.
 

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