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  #1  
Old 04-19-2017, 01:52 AM United States
Ankaa Ankaa is offline
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Default Thinking about adopting one or two chin(s)

Aloha,

I've been pondering the idea of getting chinchillas for a long time, but the time was never really right, until maybe now.

Our local humane society has several chins available, two males (neutered), one female and her young offspring (also female). It is tempting, so just out of curiosity and because I like to be informed and don't want to make wrong decisions, I started reading up on keeping chinchillas.

As a kid and way into my teens I had many guinea pigs, a rabbit, and gerbils, so rodents aren't completely new to me. However, when starting reading all the information I feel chinchillas may be a bit more complicated and many questions arose.

1) 1 or 2? I keep reading contradicting information, some say that chinchillas are grouping animals and should at a minimum be kept in pairs, otherwise it would be cruel. Other sources say that they tend to do better alone in captivity. I'm especially pondering over that female and her young - but then i keep reading that female and female may be even more difficult.

2) Obviously they need a large cage and I'm looking at the ferret nation - would that be big enough for two? I'm also pondering building my own, but I can't really find any info on such an endeavor - but I feel like wood wouldn't be the greatest idea, but how to build it otherwise? Has anyone here built their own?

3) My guinea pigs and rabbits were housed outside during summers, but I read that chinchillas should not be kept outside. I understand that they're prone to heat strokes, but also sensitive towards cold and humidity. Were we live it get's into the 40s in winter, but only at night!, and probably around mid-80s in summer - humidity is low. I guess they still shouldn't be kept outside? The house doesn't have AC and may get warmer than outside during the day.

4) We have three cats and I've been reading up on that and again find contradicting information. None of the cats (indoors) know rodents, but a previous cat didn't bother the guinea pigs back then and they in turn didn't seem to care. Two of them already are older and very chill - the youngest may learn to accept the chins?
I understand that chinchillas are potential prey, albeit technically them being too big for cats. They could have their own room which can be locked, but this would greatly reduce the living space of the cats. Has anyone experience in bonding cats and chinchillas to the point that they can be in the same room when (and only then) the chins are in their cage?

This is it for now, and I'm really still in the early stages of thinking about it and may have to come to the conclusion that I can't provide an appropriate home as much as I would love to have one or two chinchilla(s). I'm sure more questions will arise as time progresses.

Thank you very much for your thoughts
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:03 PM Canada
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Amethyst Amethyst is offline
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Yes, chinchillas are really not a beginner pet. They require much more care and work to get their home right then really any other rodent. They are also much smarter then other rodents(with the debated exception of rats), about as smart as a 2 year old human. Vet bills for them can also get to be hundreds to thousands of dollars since you need an exotic vet that knows/sees chins to care for them. Finding a vet can sometimes be an issue to since chins are still relatively new in the pet world, compared to other rodents, so finding one (or more just in case) before getting a chin is a good idea.

1. Although chins are herd animals, in the wild they can get away from each other and find a new herd if there is a conflict of personalities, they can't do that in a cage. Also just like humans, some like living in large groups or pairs, others prefer living alone. Even bonded pairs can sometimes have a falling out and need to be housed separately for the rest of their lives, so you need to be prepared to have two cages should things go wrong. Even if they do split some can still enjoy playtime together, or if that doesn't even work, having another chin in the same room to "chat" with can be beneficial. If you do go with a single one, so long as you can provide at least an hour a day of interaction a single chin would be fine.

2. A double ferret nation cage is a great size for two chins, a single is ok, but doesn't give them much room to get away from each other if they want to.

3. Chins are definitely not outside animals, there is too many dangers outside. Not only the environment (heat, drafts, rain, etc), but also wild and domestic animals are also a threat, and can cause the chin a lot of stress. Chins really need to be kept in a low humidity and the temp should get no higher then low 70s F or they will die (I keep the room my chins are in around the 50s-60s F year round). An AC is really the only real way to keep the temp low enough for them. They really aren't sensitive to the cold, they can handle down to below freezing, you just have an issue with the water freezing. So really if it's not too cold for you it's not going to be too cold for them.

4. Cats and chinchillas should never be left unsupervised together, cats can carry a bacteria that is deadly to chinchillas so one "innocent" paw swipe can make the chin very sick or die. Getting a Critter Nation may be a safer option then the Ferret Nation since the bar spacing is smaller, making it harder for cats to get a paw in. I do have cats, who all luckily ignore the chins. They have access to the room the chins are in during the day, but I close the door at night or when I am not home. The cats are also closed out of the room if the chins are out of the cage. It really also comes down to personality of the chins, some are laid back and don't care about the cats, others are terrified. My guys don't seem afraid of the cats, but have been known to throw toys at the cats if they get too close or linger by the cage too long.
A chin is most definitely not too big for a cat, cats catch rabbits and squirrels, and a chin is much smaller then those. Chins look big, with all their fur they look about the same size as a guinea pig, but weigh about half as much. They also are not as tough as a guinea pig either, and need more delicate handling.
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Old 04-19-2017, 01:09 PM United States
Ankaa Ankaa is offline
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Hi,

thank you very much for the feedback!

While I certainly feel I have experience with pet keeping (rodents, dogs, cats, fish), I also come more and more to the conclusion that chins really aren't easy. I have to admit, it is a little frightening, but at the same time, everyone had their very first chin at some point, right?

1) So, they can be kept solitary (even without at second chin in a separate cage) without them feeling lonely? I just read quite often that even human interaction cannot substitute a peer.
Is there any indication which kind of pairs work best? Male-male, female-female, neutered male -female? Of course it always depends on personality, but maybe there is at least some tendency?

2) If at all, I'd get the double cage, even for a single chin. The more space, the better. I know they have to have time running around freely in the room nevertheless, but still. Thanks for the info about the critter nation and narrower spacing - I'd read about that at some point and thought that was the ferret nation, but I must have mixed them up.

3) The temperatures is really the main part I'm worried about. I checked and stand corrected; the average high at my place is 74 in summer. We're just going to move, so unfortunately I don't have any personal experience about how hot it actually gets in the room. I understand about more than likely needing an AC, but isn't that very loud for them during the day? (oh the perks of living in the subtropics )

4) Do you know which bacteria can be transferred? That's the first time I'm reading about this (not saying this isn't true, so, sincerely interested). Can this be transferred even by 100% indoor cats? Our cats even ignore my fish (most of the time), so I have a feeling they would accept the chins, especially if they're "boring" (because sleeping) during the day. (I am aware that cats catch rabbits and squirrels, but our cats have never experienced the outdoors and are rather small, so I at least would expect chins to be too big for them ).

It's interesting to read that chins aren't as tough. I read somewhere, that they're quite hardy (I guess not with all the proneness to lung issues, broken legs, heat sensitivity) and actually do defend themselves.

5) Any pet can be costly, especially when it comes to vet costs. Are chins prone to sickness? I read that they can easily get lung issues - but only if there is high humidity, right? What other vet costs are likely/possible? Do they need annual vaccinations?

My guinea pigs and rabbit only saw the pet once a year, for their annual checkup/vaccination. Only one piggie got an eye tumor late in his life. Our cats, too, have been very healthy, so far. I guess, we've been very lucky.

6) I understand that chins should be kept in a quiet place during the day because they're sleeping. Would an office, where I'm just sitting at a computer working, be ok or would that already be too much disturbance?

7) One further thought that came up. Chins are long-living and I understand the implications (I mean, cats are too, right?). However, it's really hard to plan the life for 10, 15, ...even 5 years. While I'm settled for the forseeable future, I may have to move at some point, and living on an island doesn't really help (the chins at the humane society were surrendered because their owner moved). Now, I would never abandon my pets (we moved our cats all the way from Europe), but living on an island doesn't give me many options. I tried to read up on it, but there doesn't seem to be much out there or it's old information. So, no airline actually allows china in-cabin, but do they usually fare well in cargo? Has anyone experience with this? I've read that breeders to ship chinchillas and maybe also people going to shows?

Again, thank you very much I'd really really love to adopt at least one little fella, but I just want to make sure I'm not overlooking something important and could tend to all their needs/requirements adequately.
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Old 04-19-2017, 03:23 PM Canada
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Amethyst Amethyst is offline
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I don't really see chins as being any harder then say a lizard, they just need the right temp, humidity level, and diet. Fine for someone who has had pets and is looking for a bit more involvement, but can be overwhelming for a first time owner.

1. It's kind of a debate, some people feel very strongly that chins need other chins, others have had chins live happily all alone for their whole life. It is just that much more important though that you make it a point to spend as much time with them as possible. Personality really trumps gender, you obviously don't want male/female unless you intend to breed, I strongly advise against neutering, unless the male is already neutered. It's dangerous and has no known health benefits to chins. Other then that it's more you need dominate/submissive or submissive/submissive. Females can be more territorial then males if introducing unrelated chins. In the wild females and their female offspring stay, and the males roam to find new herds.

3. No the AC is not going to be too loud, they get use to the sound, I know old AC units can be very loud, but newer ones are pretty quiet. The loudest part is the compressor, and the ones I have are about as loud as my fridge or deep freezer.

4. The bacteria is, pasturella, it causes upper respiratory infections, which can be deadly to chins within hours. My cats as I said leave the chins alone (and most are indoor/outdoor, one even catches and eats squirrels), but they do try to get the chin's toys sometimes, which is where the possible accident can happen. Cat reaches in for a toy and accidentally nicks the chin with a claw. I can watch to tell the cats no when they try to pull a toy out of the cage.

What I meant by not as tough, basically their bones are thinner then a guinea pig's (about the thickness of a toothpick), and also they have a floating rib cage, so if held too tight you can break it and puncture a lung with a rib. A guinea pig can physically take a bit more improper handling then a chin.

5. No chins are not prone to illness, and don't require annual checkups or vaccinations. That is probably why finding a vet that sees them is so hard, they rarely need to go. When the do need to go it's something serious, and therefore pricey (I mention it because most people forget about it, and suddenly you get someone saying what can they do at home, their chin is dying and can't afford a vet). The most common issues are, respiratory infections, teeth issues, and digestive issues. There is a lot of info on here about each issue if you want to look them up. They have a similarly sensitive respiratory system as a bird, so no smoking, heavy perfumes, or using air freshener sprays around them. The other issue with humidity is that it can cause their fur to get damp, which can (in extreme cases) make them get moldy and their fur fall out.

6. My current chins live in my office/computer room, which is where I spend my day, that way I can spend time with them anytime they are awake . They don't sleep all day, they are generally sleeping when I get up in the morning, wake in the afternoon, then sleep until the late evening, sleep during the middle of the night, wake during early morning, etc. So long as you aren't super noisy (yelling, blaring music, etc) they will get use to the normal sounds during the day. I commonly play video games, watch movies, and listen to the radio throughout the day and they seem unfazed. If you watch shows or movies, chins enjoy watching too, it's cute, they hear in our hearing range (and beyond) so they also enjoy music too. The only issue with having chins in the same room as computers though is the dust, I have to give my guys their dust baths in another room.

7. Yes, chins live as long as cats, 15-20+ years, so it is a long commitment. I don't have any experience with flying chins, but I've heard they do apparently travel well. I would make sure you fly them when it's coolest out, and direct flights only so they don't get delayed, miss connections, or get lost.
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2 Chinchillas: Bazil and Wicket
9 Cats: Mystic, Coon, Rascal, Lucky, Mittens, Shadow, CJ, Tiger and Tux
3 Dogs: Bear, Loki, and Blaze
1 Horse: Blazer
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