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Chinchilla Information Guide - UPDATED

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For anyone interested in chins… I’m posting this for you. I had made some posts in the past, but this one is going to be a bit more updated and organized since I know that I forgot some things in the first one.

Table of Contents!

•Basic Chinchilla Information
•Mutations
•Diet
•Hay
•Treats
•Dust
•Cages
•Wood
•Temperatures
•Medical Issues
•Personality
•Bonding with Humans
•Bonding with other Chins
•Breeding
•Important Notes!

Basic Chinchilla information:

Chinchillas are goofy little rodents who are native to South Africa. They’re social in the wild, but not all pet chins will get along with one another. Sometimes they can be quite hostile towards others, while other chins love the company. That being said, you need to take their personality into consideration when/if getting them a friend, and always be prepared to have more than one cage.

They’re crepuscular, which means they are most active between sundown and sunrise. They also come in a variety of colors(standard, white, beige, ebony, black velvet, blue diamond, sapphire, and more).

On average, they live around 15-20 years so they are a long time commitment. They are exotic, so vet care may be on the expensive side. Generally they are healthy animals if you get them from reputable breeder instead of pet stores. Not only will they be more comfortable with being handled, but they won’t have the genetic issues that often arise in chins with an unknown pedigree.

Mutations

The different colors are referred to as mutations. Chinchillas come in a wide variety of mutations, some being more difficult to breed than others. Since standard is the default color for chins, all mutations are either dominant or recessive to the standard gene.

Standard

Standard Grey is the natural color of the chinchilla and from which all other color mutations have been produced. It is a dominant color and comes in different variations from light to dark. The belly of a standard chinchilla should be crisp and bright white.

These are the animals that breeders use to produce high quality chins of other mutations. Breeding mutation to mutation often results in a lower fur density, bad conformation, etc… Using high quality Standards to pass on their perfections will improve the rest of the herd.

White

The white gene is an incomplete gene and therefore must be in combination in another color. A white chinchilla should be bright white with no yellow casting in it and usually has dark patterns on its fur and darker ears. The patterns can range from a slight silver tipping to extreme and unique patterns. White chinchillas should never be bred together because of the lethal factor involved with the gene in a ho-mozygous form. Different variations of white include white mosaic(white x standard) TOV Mosaic(white x Black Velvet) White Ebony(white x ebony) White Violet(white v/c x violet) White Tan(white x tan) and so forth.

White is a dominant mutation.

This is Momo. He was my mosaic chinchilla. Though he passed away, I still wanted to use him as an example. This is actually my favorite mutation.

Here are a few other examples:


^Wilson White(technically a mosaic, this is just used to describe a mosaic with a solid white body and dark ears).

Pink White

Pink white is a cross between a white and beige chinchilla. The coloring is predominantly white with some creamy beige patterns and a pink nose and light ears. A pink white chinchilla can be both ho-mozygous or hetero pink white. Usually a ho-mozygous has bright pink eyes and is often mistaken for albino.

These chins can also develop freckles on their ears, a trait inherited from the beige mutation.

Ebony

A hetero ebony has a a combination of black and grey hair, usually with a dark black veiling and a lighter grey belly. The color can range from very light grey with black tips to very dark black. The color should appear to be a dark blue black and lack any red cast to the fur.

Extra Dark Ebony: Also known as a ho-mo ebony, has all black hairs with no light hairs whatsoever. Its fur shaft should be a solid color to the skin and have a shiny appearance. In order for a chin to be ho-mozygous, both parents must have or carry the ebony gene.

Ebonies can be used to create a ‘wrap’. Since these chins do not have white bellies, they pass on their solid bellies, making the chins base color wrap around it’s body.

Here is Chilly Bean(usually referred to as Bean), my light ebony chinchilla.

Other examples:

Beige

Beige is a dominant brown mutation color. A heterozygous beige chinchilla has one dominant beige gene. The chinchilla will have a darker beige coat with a white belly, dark pink(most common) or brown eyes, and pink ears and nose, and often will have freckles on its ears.

A ho-mozygous beige chinchilla has two beige genes. The coat will be a light beige to a champagne color with a white belly and the chinchilla will have bright red or pink eyes. Like the hetero beige, this chin can develop freckles as well.

Black Velvet

A black velvet chinchilla has a black veiling with lighter sides and a white belly. It has black stripes on its paws and should have a crisp white belly. Its fur will have a velvety appearance. Black Velvet is also referred to as Black or Gunning Black. When a Black Velvet is in combination with another mutation color it is referred to as TOV (touch of velvet), such as a TOV violet(black velvet x violet).

Violet

Violet is a recessive gene, therefore the chin must have two violet parents or violet carrier parents. Violets have soft grey fur with a blue hue and should have a crisp white belly. Breeding violets to each other is not recommended since this color is recessive. It is always best to breed a violet to a violet carrier as not to loose quality in breeding.

Blue Diamond

The BD is a combination of two recessive mutations… Sapphire and violet. This is extremely difficult to breed due to the fact that the parents will have to carry both recessive mutations. Like other recessive mutations, you must breed these chins back to a carrier to avoid losing out on quality.

There are other mutations that are not mentioned, these are just a few.

Diet

A chinchillas diet should mostly consist of good quality pellets and hay. Any food that has tidbits/treats aside from the pellets is not a healthy food for them. They cannot process sugar like we can and those snacks are usually high in sugar or things they shouldn’t even have as a treat. Below is a list of good quality pellets.

•Oxbow(more on the expensive side but amazing quality… It’s good if you have 1-2 chins and can’t get through a larger bag)
•Mazuri(can give some chins soft poos, but is still a high quality food that works for most)
•Tradition
•Manna Pro Series(some rabbit foods are okay for them, as this is one of them).
and more…

I have personally fed both Oxbow and Manna Pro Pro/Sho(don’t use the Gro, it’s too high in protein). Since I lost one of my boys, I went back to Oxbow since I was tired of wasting food. Manna Pro Pro is available in a 25lb bag, while the Sho is only available in 50lb bags. Even the 25lb will go bad before you can use it with one chin.


^
Photo examples of the two brands I have fed.

Bad brands:
•Kaytee
•Bonanza
•Surpreme Charlie
•Anything with nuts, seeds, colored pieces, etc…

A SMALL NOTE ABOUT WATER…. BECAUSE I TOTALLY FORGOT TO MENTION THIS.
Chins should not have tap water. You need to have it filtered to the best of your ability or buy reverse osmosis water(cheap at walmart). What may not harm us in our tap water, can make a chinchilla sick. If you have a PURE filter, that’s a good way to go if you don’t want to be spending money on gallons.

Hay

Chinchillas need a combination of pellets and hay to thrive in captivity. If your chinchilla is eating alfalfa based pellets(which is usually the case)—you must feed them timothy hay. If they eat timothy based pellets—you must feed them alfalfa hay. Too much alfalfa in their diet can give them soft poos.

Be sure the hay is fresh, not brown/moldy, and good quality. Some chins won’t like certain brands… They’re fickle little guys. Hay should be available at all times, as this is what most of their diet consists of.

Whatever hay you must feed needs to be fed daily. You can give additional handfuls of other types(Oat, Orchard, etc…) to offer some variety. Each type of hay will wear the teeth down differently, plus the chins see it as a treat.

Oxbow sells a variety of hay and is what I feed mine(Meadow, Oat, Orchard, etc…).
However, I get my timothy hay from Small Pet Select or American Pet Diner.
Small Pet Select was a favorite for mine and I highly recommend it. Any brand of hay is fine, as long as it’s fresh and the chinchilla is eating it. Failure to eat enough hay can lead to dental issues in the future.

Note: Hay is more important than pellets since it makes up the majority of a chinchillas diet.

Treats

Chins should not have treats, but as loving humans—we spoil them.

Yogurt drops, fruits and veggies are big nonos for chins. People say to give them raisins(maybe half a raisin a week) but they’re not good for them… There are so many healthy alternatives and as I said earlier, they cannot process sugar. Also NO SEEDS/NUTS!

Good treats:
•Rose Hips(full of vitamin C, which chins cannot produce… I prefer crushed over whole rosehips)
•Rose Petals
•Calendula Flowers(a favorite for mine)
•Lavender
•Jasmine
•WOOD (see wood section for more info)

Those are only a few that I could think of off the top of my head. There are lots of other flowers/herbs that you can give them. If you want a longer list, let me know and I’ll send you one.

Treats should not always be given daily. If they are—only a small amount(one rose hip, one pinch of flowers/herbs, etc… A healthy treat such as wood(can be given anytime, as well as other hays), and the rest on the list can be given daily but is not recommended. Cheerios and old fashioned oats(not the instant kind!!!!!) are also popular treats, but again… Only in limited quantities.


Those are the three treats that I use the most. Again, every chinchilla is different and they may not like the same thing.

Dust

A chinchilla dust bath serves an important purpose as a replacement for volcanic ash and has been made especially for chinchillas—it is light grey in color and extremely fine in texture.
The dust sticks to oils and dirt, which has accumulated within the chinchilla’s fur and clumps around it making it easier to fall off.

Dust baths can be given daily, but you should monitor the chins skin/fur. Some chins can end up with dry skin if bathed too often, while others can handle a daily bath with no issues. 2-3 times a week is sufficient. Baths can last to up to 10 minutes or less, and dust should never be left in the cage at all times.

Some people use chinchilla sand instead of dust and personally… I hate the sand. Not only does it not clean them as well, but I imagine the grains get stuck in their coat. Dust gets the job done better and it is of higher quality.

Blue Cloud is the best brand of chinchilla dust. This comes in a few different store brands(Oxbow, All Living Things, etc…), but all Blue Cloud is the same. Blue Sparkle is another good option, but breeders/show chins are bathed in Blue Cloud. Kaytee/other brands and scented brands are poor quality. You should never use a scented brand.

Cages

I cannot stress this enough.
Get a double unit Ferret or Critter Nation.

I know it’s rather expensive and you probably hate the thought of spending that much when you can get something much smaller/cheaper… But trust me—it’s worth it. They love the room, it’s a sturdy cage, the doors make cleaning easier than any other cage, and it’s just amazing. It’s the largest you can get without customizing it or paying a fortune. They are also easy to make suitable for chins, unlike some other cages.

Below you will find a photo of my own cages. Those are ideally what you want to provide your chinchilla with. You want multiple ledges/shelves, accessories(tubes, hammocks), hanging toys, floor toys, chinchillers/granite tiles, hide outs, etc… My cages are not perfect and I’m always adding/rearranging. There are more hanging toys in my cages than what is pictured, but I had taken them out to refill them.

If is fun to customize cages and see what your fuzzy likes. :)

Obviously you can get a different cage but the FN/CN is most popular. You want to avoid a cage with ramps(they don’t need ramps and they can get their feet stuck in them) and if it has a wire bottom you must provide a lot of solid spots for them to stand… They’ll get sore feet otherwise.

BEDDING:

Fleece is a life savor. All I do is vacuum it up daily(or every other day) and change it weekly. I don’t have to pay for expensive bedding as often(as I only have bedding in the litter box). You buy the fleece, sew the liners(which I can explain if you like, I won’t unless you want to know since that’s a lengthy explanation), and slip them on.

Loose bedding wise, you can use KD pine or aspen shavings. You need to be careful with paper based bedding. It expands when wet, which can cause a blockage if the chin eats it. You’ll need to watch and see how your chin reacts, but I would go with wood shavings to be safe. Bean will not eat anything I put in his litter pan, so I’ll use both.

ALL PLASTIC SHOULD BE COVERED! No plastic in the cage unless you can cover it with fleece. No exceptions. They chew on everything and chewing plastic can cause an impaction. If a chins digestive system stops, it will start to die(this is why they eat so much hay… They need to keep their system going).

Even if a chin doesn’t chew plastic, that doesn’t mean that they won’t. Sometimes they ignore something for years until they decide it’s their new favorite thing. So no plastic toys, levels, wheels, etc…

Ledges:

Get lots of these. They live in the mountains so they love to jump around everywhere. A cage without them is boring, so put as many in the cage as you can. Pine(make sure it’s kiln dried) is best to use since it’s a softer wood and you can screw the hardware in by hand. It’s also cheaper than other types and easy to find. The more ledges you have, the better.

Wheels:
While I do not personally have a wheel, this is a great investment. Some chins don’t care for a wheel at all, while others use it often. Some only like certain types of wheels as well. Flying Saucers(it can take them longer to learn how to use those) and Chin Spins are most popular.

Again… NO PLASTIC WHEELS! You’ll need to order the wheel online since there are no safe wheels in pet stores. They also must be 14" or larger in diameter with a solid bottom and no spoke. 15" is usually recommended but you can go to 14" if you have a small chin. Anything smaller and you will be bending their back at an unnatural angle, causing spinal damage.



^^Those are proper chinchilla wheels… None of which are available in stores.

Toys:

Hanging toys are usually really popular with chins. Hang one up next to a ledge and watch him/her go at it. I’d recommend ordering from a vendor, as they are cheaper, safe, and reusable. Chins are playful and curious creatures, so they love toys. Some chins prefer different woods/pieces, so you have to find out what your chin likes on their toys. You can also toss some toys on the floor and watch them carry them around… It’s rather cute.

If you buy the parts, these are extremely easy to make on your own.

Toys are a necessity. Like people and other animals, chins can get bored if they don’t have anything to do. They are intelligent creatures and they need a way to stay busy. Not only does this keep their minds busy, but it wears their teeth down.

Houses:

When frightened, they like to feel confined in a dark place—so houses are a must as well. Again… No plastic. You can make your own house, or you can buy one in stores. Like all the other things in their cage, you want to be sure that the house is made out of safe wood(most pet store houses are okay, as long as they’re wooden).

Chews:

I know I have said this before, but it’s important. Their teeth never stop growing so chins need plenty of wood to ware them down. Some are stubborn and only chew on certain things, so you’ll need to try a variety of things before you know what they really enjoy.

Sometimes you can order a certain type of wood and they will love it. You order the same kind again from a different person and suddenly they’re no longer interested. Bean loved pear wood so I ordered a bulk amount from someone, only for him to hate it. These animals are as different as people, you have to just find what they like and roll with it.

You want all types of things to chew so they have plenty of options. Other options include pumice, finger traps, bagels, and more…

Wood

Chins chew. All the time.
Apple is usually the favorite and I have never met a chin who disliked it. There are people that sell sample packs so you can tell which sticks your chinchilla likes.

Wood is the best thing to give them as a treat since it can be unlimited and you can buy a variety, and because it wears their teeth down. It’s best to buy wood from people who you know are preparing it correctly. You can’t just go pick up a stick from outside and give it to them. It has to be pesticide/chemical free, and you have to prepare it correctly. Wood must be scrubbed, boiled and baked before being given to your chin. If you have a chin safe tree and you process the wood correctly—you won’t have to buy any.

UNSAFE WOOD:
Cedar
Pine that hasn’t been kiln dried
Apricot
Cherry
Peach
Prune
Plum
Nectarine
(trees that grow fruit with pits are unsafe)

SAFE WOOD:
Apple
Arbutus
Ash
Aspen
Beech
Birch
Cholla (a form of cactus)
Cottonwood
Crabapple
Dogwood
Elm
Fir
Hawthorn
Larch
Magnolia
Manzanita
Mulberry
Pine (kiln dried)
Pear
Pecan
Poplar
Sequoia (Redwood)
Willow

Again… Wood taken from outside needs to be chemical/pesticide free, then prepared(scrubbed, boiled, then baked until dried). NEVER give a chinchilla wood from outside without preparing it first.

Temperatures

This is VERY important.
Chins should not be in temperatures higher than 75 degrees F(at the absolute highest, some chins won’t tolerate anything higher 70 and can die at 71). As long as their water does not freeze, being cold is not a concern.

Since they do not sweat and are prone to overheating, you must keep it cool for them. Personally, I keep mine around 60-65 degrees to allow some leeway if the AC stops working(I’ll have time to get a new one before it heats up), and just because they enjoy the cool air. The cooler, the better… So do not get one if you can’t live in cold temperatures. This is not something that is up for debate… You can kill a chinchilla if you house it in improper temperatures.

Medical conditions:

The most common problems with chins tends to be overheating, Malo, and root elongation.

Heatstroke:

Chinchillas cannot properly regulate their body temperature, which is why cooler temperatures are recommended. Signs that your chin is too hot include:

•Flushed/pink ears
•Lethargy/laying on side
•Increase in respiratory rate
•Appetite change/not eating
•Seizures

Malocclusion:
Because chinchillas have continuously growing molars, they need to be worn down continuously. Malocclusion is a condition where the teeth do not align correctly—it can be hereditary, environmental, or both. Environmental malocclusion can stem from a number of reasons. Poor quality pellet food, too many (or the wrong kind of) treats, calcium deficiency, lack of hay and/or chew toys, and cage accidents where the teeth are physically damaged (broken off). Genetic malocclusion has a direct link to the chinchillas parentage. Chinchillas who have malocclusion or have malocclusion in their lineage should NEVER be bred. Never breed a rescue chin or one from a pet store, because their lineage is unknown. Signs of unhealthy teeth include:

•Drooling
•Pawing at the mouth
•Not Eating/half eaten pellets(many chins waste pellets though, so be more concerned with losing weight/not eating)
•Anorexia/unexplained weight loss
•Eye Problems/runny eyes

Treatment involves general anesthesia and filing of the affected teeth, this being done by a vet of course, however this is only considered as a temporary solution and unless changes are made, the problem can reoccur. A chin should have a chewing block in their cage at all times, wood, pumice stones, or even a pressed hay cube.

My personal opinion for a chin with Malo… Euthanize it. Continuous filings are painful and will not solve the problem. There are people who have tried every option that’s available as a form of treatment, only to end up putting the animal to sleep later. There is absolutely nothing you can do to cure it and the animal will ultimately suffer if you keep it alive. It sucks, but a life in pain is not the life I’d want for my furbabies.

Root Elongation:

This is a seriously painful condition where the roots of the lower teeth grow into the jawbone or the roots from the upper teeth grow into the nasal duct or eye socket. The main cause for tooth/root elongation is from the misalignment of the teeth. This causes the teeth to grow at a slight angle and the roots to grow in an abnormal direction. Misalignment of the teeth can be due to genetics, malocclusion, tooth loss, trauma to the mouth area, jawbone fracture, lack of proper nutrition during fetal development and poor dental management such as, a lack of items for a chinchilla to gnaw on or not having regular dental check-ups.

This situation is a serious ‘untreatable’ medical condition that can lead to nasolacrimal blockage and eventually proves fatal to a chinchilla. The only prevention for this painful condition is to provide a good nutritional diet during fetal development and for the rest of the chinchilla’s living life. You must prevent the misalignment of teeth by offering a chinchilla plenty of hard items to file the front incisors and good quality coarse hay to help keep the back teeth in line and filed to a good length. No trauma must come to the mouth cavity therefore the environment a chinchilla is allowed to explore should be safe and various levels easy to access to help prevent falling.

Symptoms are similar to chins with Malo.

NOTE: This cannot be detected without an x-ray, since the roots are not visible. Not only that, but tooth problems(RE specifically) are often hard to detect until they are in the advanced stages.

Just as I mentioned with Malo chins, my opinion is to euthanize. Unlike with Malo, you cannot do anything to slow the process. Teeth can be filed down but you cannot touch the roots. Not only is this condition extremely painful but there is absolutely nothing you can do for it—which is why euthanasia is the best solution in this case. It’s also worth noting that you can do everything right and still end up with a chinchilla with dental issues. Where there are teeth, there is always a chance.

Stasis/Impactions:

GI stasis is the stopping or very slow movement of the GI tract. A chin’s GI tract is always working, so stasis should be a major concern with chin owners. If movement in the GI tract stops or slows severely the intestine tissues can die, causing unrecoverable damage. This is one of the reasons why chinchillas must have hay available at all times. Some symptoms include:

•Small/no poop
•Lethargy
•Straining

An Impaction is a blockage in the GI tract. This can be formed from anything from plastic or something the chin may have gotten into when it was out for playtime or that it pulled in through the cage, to food matter or bedding. Symptoms are similar to the ones for stasis.

Many people use simethicone(baby gas drops) to decrease the gas in order to help keep the gut moving, and should be getting plenty of fluids. Worst case scenario, you’ll need surgery to remove the blockage. Metacam can be used to reduce pain(remember, chinchillas are prey animals and hide their pain easily). Antibiotics often slow the GI tract down and not are recommended unless you vet suspects that there is a secondary infection.

Stasis WILL kill if not treated. You will need reglan or cisapride from the veterinarian in this case, at home remedies are not efficient and you’ll end up with a dead chin.

Bloat:

This is a more common issue that you see in other animals. Bloat in chinchillas is how we describe a build up of gas in the stomach. Not only is this extremely painful but it can be deadly. This usually goes hand in hand with stasis, since the unmoving bowls can produce the gas rather quickly.
Simethicone really comes into play and you want to be giving this every 2-4 hours.

Symptoms include:
•Lethargy
•Swollen/hard abdomen
•Rolling/stretching

Example photo of Bean. On the left you can see the dark areas(the gas) are large. That was when he was bloated. On the right you see when he was no longer bloated and that’s how a chinchilla x-ray should look.

IMPORTANT NOTES: I had my own battle with chinchilla stasis and let me tell you… It’s not easy. Once they go into statis/bloat, it’s difficult to get them out of it. They’re such sensitive creatures and one mistake can end their life. With syringe feeding every 2 hours, proper medication, lots of belly rubs and some luck—the chin will be okay. It can take MONTHS for them to get back to normal after stasis. Even with everything I did to keep him alive, he would have died had I not had the proper medication. Reglan/cisapride are vital and I cannot stress that enough. You need one or both, unless you want a dead chinchilla.

While they are generally healthy animals, they still have their faults. These things are easy to prevent if you buy from an experienced breeder and maintain their health for the rest of their lives.

Personality

As I said above, they’re active and curious little fluffbutts. They are not as cuddly as they look. If you want one just to hold and snuggle—don’t get one. Most chins detest being held at all, but you do have a few who actually enjoy it. They’re usually content with running around(in a chin proof area) and jumping all over you.

Most enjoy scratches and pets as well. Each chin is different, so there’s not much I can say here. You will just have to learn your chins unique personality.

How they are raised also plays a big roll in how they behave when handled.

Bonding with humans:

Some chins can bond easier than others, but you need to remember that they are prey animals. A new chin should be left alone for at least a week in order for it to have time to be comfortable in their new home. Afterwards, treats are welcome(if over 6 months of age).

Give a treat(I’m talking about a tiny TINY piece so you can break it up to get more out of it) every time you walk by, sit and talk with them, try giving them some scratches if they allow it, etc… You want to be careful not to push them too far, but you don’t want to go strictly at their pace either. Some take months to come around, maybe even years. Bean has come far since I first got him, but he’s still not thrilled about being held and he will run when I attempt to grab him. Momo was friendly since day one, so it’s a shame that he passed away.

Just be patient and spend time with them.

Food, hay, wood, etc… are all healthy alternatives to hand your chin as you walk buy. You want to establish a good relationship from the start.

In the event that your chinchilla is sick and needs to be handled… You want to get them used to it. This was my mistake, as I left Bean go because I knew he didn’t like being held. That made the entire process more stressful because he was not used to being handled. They will struggle and they’ll hate it, but keep picking them up and putting them back. Some accept it after a while and some always hate it, but at least they’re used to being handled. You want to set yourself up for success if they ever need medication/hand feeding.

Bonding with other chins:

Bonding chins can be difficult, and even impossible. Some chins can never be housed with others. While they are social creatures and naturally they live in large herds—that’s not always the case. In the wild, they can remove themselves from the situation if they are uncomfortable around a certain chin… With cages, they don’t really have that option so it often results in a fight.They can and will kill each other if they feel like it. As cute as they are—they can be vicious.

New chins must be quarantined for at least 30 days before put anywhere near the existing chin(s). This means separate cage, room, dust bath, etc… Not doing this can risk either of your chins getting sick. You don’t know if the change in environment will make the new chin sick and you don’t want that passed on to your existing chin.

When you have two chins who seem to be getting along, they can turn on each other years down the road. There could be no warning signs and you check on them to find one of them dead. I’m not saying this always happens but it’s a possibility when you have more than one chin housed together. The bottom line is you must always have enough cages in case anything happens(another reason the FN and CN are great… You can split them in half and keep one on each level).

You want to start with them getting used to the smell of the other. Use the same dust bath, swap cages, etc… Some people have a lot of luck with the ‘smoosh method’ as well. All you do for that is get a SMALL carrier where they won’t have enough room to fight each other, and take them for a car ride.

Others get a two hole carrier and keep each chin on one side with a solid divider. There are plenty of ways to do it, but I wouldn’t recommend a neutral playtime. An open area can make it hard to catch them if something bad happens, so I would avoid that until you know they’re getting along.

The most important part of an introduction is to have a neutral cage! This means it must be scrubbed down, new ledges/wood items, etc… It also needs to be arranged differently than both the other chins cages. This will prevent either of them from feeling territorial over anything in the cage.

Each chin is different so your steps may change depending on the chin.
The younger they are, the easier it seems to bond them together… Though that is not always the case. Intros must be done slowly… Rushing them can ruin the chance of caging them together.

Breeding:

Don’t even get into this unless you know what you’re doing. If you want more than one chin, get two of the same gender.

Pet store chins should NEVER be bred. Not only do you not know the pedigree(read pedigree note below) but you could be spreading genetic disorders. Pet store chins are not ever breeding quality… Even if you are breeding for pets.

A quick note about pedigrees… Breeding animals must be breeding quality. All breeding quality chins come with a pedigree. Not all animals with a pedigree are breeding quality… The pedigree only tells you who is related to that specific chin.

If you’re truly interested in breeding, you want to find a breeder to mentor you. You’ll need to do ALL the necessary research(which includes reading horror stories about how bad breeding can be) beforehand, save up the emergency vet money(most say at least 5k to start, and that’s only with one pair… Large breeders keep much more than that on hand) and get some high quality standard chins. A beginner generally shouldn’t start out working with the different mutations, as some are more complex than others and require more experience. A first place show pair is always best to start with. A Standard chin of good breeding quality can cost you well over $400.


To save time—I’ve copied and pasted the following information from a reliable source. Anyone with kits or the possibility of kits needs to read this.

Surprise Kits?!

Most of the time, the chinchilla mom will take care of everything and you can just have fun with the kits. The more you handle, play, and socialize with the kits, the tamer they will become. However, there are several things to watch for and do, for even healthy, thriving kits and mom.

• Check for activity in the kits and to be sure they are actually nursing from mom. Their tummies should feel fully rounded and warm.
• Check that mom has cleaned the kits well, the eyes are open, and they are dried. If the eyes are not open, give them time. Most kits eyes open on their own, provided there is no infectious process going on.
• Every kit needs to be weighed once a day for the first 3-4 days or until you know they are gaining weight steadily. After that, you can weigh them a bit less diligently, but regularly, for several weeks to keep track of their weight and growth. It is very normal for kits to lose up to 2 to 3 grams the first day of birth, but then they should start gaining roughly 2 grams a day. A gram scale is necessary for weighing kits, and can generally be found fairly reasonably at a discount store.
• Kits will be left with mom until they are weaned at 6-8 weeks of age. You may notice your little one eating hay the very first day, but they still need all the nutrition they can get from mom. Many people say wean at 200 gm, but if your kit is a month old and 200 gm, it doesn’t mean you have to wean them that soon.
• An 8-week-old male kit should be removed from their mother and from any female siblings. The female kits can stay with mom, as long as dad is in a separate cage.
•A kit safe cage should have openings of no more than 1/2 × 1 inch(Critter Nations are okay). Anything larger and the kit can/will squeeze through. Be sure the cage is out of drafty areas.

Keep an eye out for any of the following to happen, if you do notice any problems, PLEASE step in and help mom out:

• If you do see one or more kits being ignored by Mom and it is very young make sure it is warm and stays warm.
• Watch for kits that are losing weight even after the first day and not gaining any at all for several days. You may need to give a supplemental hand feeding. This may vary by kit. A kit that is 70 gm can afford to lose a bit more than a kit who is 32 gm.
• Keep an eye out for kits that are fighting with the other kits, as can sometimes happen in large litters. The kits may have to be rotated. Rotating means leaving several kits with mom and you taking the others to keep warm in a different cage. You can use a baby safe cat carrier with 1/2 × 1 inch openings or a chin specific carrier. Place a heating pad under only HALF of the carrier, set at the lowest setting, so the kit can move away from the heat if he/she needs too.

Newborn kits should be rotated every two hours. If you have two kits, try to keep the smallest in with mom at all times, and the largest one will rotate in and out. If you have triplets or more, again, try to keep the smallest in with mom as much as possible. This rotation MUST be done 24/7. Many times, once the kits are of comparable weights, you can try and introduce all of them back with mom at the same time; however, you cannot always count on this and need to make arrangements for continued rotation. Be sure that there is always fresh hay and food available for them, as well as plenty of fresh water, as kits do start eating solid foods and drinking from a water bottle surprisingly early in their lives.

Hand Feeding

If it does become necessary to hand feed the kits, there are no commercial formulas available. One possible supplement is

• One can of goats milk
• One can of water
• One tablespoon baby rice cereal

As a handy tip, since the formula makes such a great amount, and you only use a small amount at a time, use ice cube trays to freeze your formula. Pour it into the trays, cover them with saran wrap, then once frozen put them in a Ziplock freezer bag. When you need them, simply remove one ice cube at a time, let it thaw, and throw away the unused formula. The formula should not be kept more than 48-hours at a time. Once the 48-hour mark is reached, it’s time to throw away that formula, and bring out a new ice cube.

The formula should be room temperature or slightly warmer when used, never hot. Test it as you would baby formula, against the underside of your wrist. An insulin syringe works wonderfully for supplementing kits and is easy to control, though some people have good luck with glass eye droppers. When you feed the kits, DO NOT put the food directly into the kits mouth. If you do, you could cause them to aspirate and result in their deaths. Instead, place a drop of formula at a time on their lower lip, allowing them to lick the formula off. They may struggle and hate it at first, but once they get the hang of it, they’ll do great. If you need a bit of help, place the chin in a washcloth, burrito style, to help gently restrain them for feeding. You will need to feed the kits a minimum of every two (2) hours. Once they are taking 2-3 syringes full at a feeding, you will be well on your way to having healthy growing kits. As they start to get older the formula intake may increase but then once they start to eat pellets and hay the formula intake will decrease.

You need to stimulate their urethra and anus so that they eliminate. Take a cotton ball and dip it in warm water and wring it out so that it is damp (just barely dripping). Gently rub the cotton ball on their lower abdomen towards their tail. You will need to use a little bit of pressure, think mother’s licking with their tongues, because that’s how they do it. After going over the area a few times, you should see droplets of urine and tiny poop. There is a possibility that you won’t get poop every time you stimulate them, but you should be getting some poop during a 24 hour period.

As an added nutritional boost, you can place the following formula that the JAGS developed in the cage with mom and the babies. Moms seem to enjoy it just as much as the kits. Be sure to provide hay, pellets, and fresh water along with this formula.

•1 part calf or goat milk replacer (a dry formula-purchase at a feed store)
•1 part crushed pellets
•1 part 50/50 mixture of dry rice and oatmeal baby cereal

(Tip – A coffee grinder makes quick work of the pellets.)

Weaning

Usually mothers begin the weaning process when the kits are about six weeks old, and by 8 weeks most all kits are fully weaned. When weaned and taken from their mother, litters can be housed together to ease the stress weaning sometimes causes. The males, though, should not be left with the females for very long- a maximum of 10 weeks of age. Because chins sometimes need special care after weaning, kits should not be sold or given away to new owners until they have been away from mom for one or two full weeks and you know they are eating and thriving on their own

Important note about kits and wheels/playtime…
Chinchillas under the age of 6 months should not have wheels or playtime. A rare playtime of no more than 10 minutes is the max amount of time that a young chin should get. Kits tend to over exhaust themselves to the point of seizures so it’s best to avoid allowing that activity until they are of age. They should be using their energy for growing and maintaining healthy bodily function, not running around.
Treats should not be offered until 6 months as well.

Important notes!!!

•••These may not be cheap pets. Initially, I spent A LOT of money on them. Almost $500 on cages, another few hundred(I lost count) for fleece… Ledges, wood, toys, etc… It adds up. However… Once you get everything you need, the costs do drop a lot. You only need to supply food/hay, dust, and chews.

•••Chins are crepuscular, meaning they’re awake mostly during dusk and dawn. You can work with your chin to have them wake up during certain times. They’re a great pet for someone who gets home later and wants to spend some time with them.

•••ALWAYS have hand feeding formula on hand. This is usually a powder that you mix with water. When a chinchilla stops eating, you need something on hand to feed them ASAP to avoid stasis. I prefer Essentials For Life(bought online), but you can use Critical Care. It’s good practice to always have some on hand in case of an emergency. You can also crush up some pellets but that takes more work and I prefer to have the mix on hand. EFL saved my chinchillas life, as he actually would spit out the Critical Care. In the event that you need to hand feed, please message me. There’s a lot that goes into this and I don’t want to make this post longer than it already is. Do not hesitate to message me, I promise I will give you all the information you need.

•••Buying supplies from pet stores is generally a waste of money. There are other places/vendors who will sell you supplies for a lot less money. For example… A 3lb jar of Blue Cloud dust is like $10 at Petsmart… I get 15lbs for around $25. A pack of apple sticks is like $5(just guessing) and they only have like maybe 10 sticks. I buy like 8lbs for $50. It’s more money to buy these things elsewhere but you save in the long run. If you’re interested, I’ll let you know where I buy everything.

•••Chinchillas are considered hypoallergenic. Those with allergies involving chins usually have a dust/hay allergy. You can avoid dust issues by bathing them in a separate room and buying an air purifier. Hay allergies can be minimized by using hay cubes.

•••They can be litter trained to pee, but they will poop everywhere. Since they’re dry pellets, they are easy to clean up. I have seen one chin who will not poop outside it’s cage though, no idea how that happened Lol.

•••Plastic balls are DEATH BALLS! Chins do not run… They hop. I don’t know why people think those plastic balls are safe for them. They can overheat, pee on themselves, and it makes them move unnaturally. They have been known to kill chins so do not use them.

•••Unless you have an extremely unfriendly chin—they won’t bite you. Neither of mine have ever attempted it. They will groom you with their teeth, which is the sweetest thing. It’s not painful but can be a little uncomfortable if they don’t chew often(which leaves them with sharper teeth).

—Be sure to do your own research as well. Again, chins-n-hedgies is a great place to get information.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS… Feel free to ask. :D I’m not an expert but I can likely answer any question you throw at me(from my own knowledge or from others). This is only a guide—there is plenty of information/situations that I haven’t even touched.

Medium

Remarkable guide! c:

Medium

Wow, If ever think of getting a chinchilla, I’ll look back at this o..o

Medium

Thank you! I had to tweak it a bit since one of my chins passed away, plus I added a few things.

Chins are so simple to care for, this guide makes it seem like they’re highly demanding and difficult to own. They’re really not, there is just a lot of information. Sometimes I feel that all this turns someone away from getting one but I promise, unless you run into issues they’re super easy to care for.
A cool room, proper cage/chews, high quality food/hay and you’re good to go.

Medium

my best friend has a chin & she is the sweetest, coolest little girl ever. Amazing guide!!

Medium

This is an amazing guide. Thank you! ♡

Medium

Thanks! Chins make great pets and they can live longer than most cats/dogs if you care for them properly. They’re so full of personality and they’re always up to no good. :P

Thank you Sandy! There’s actually a lot that I hadn’t touched on but I already overdid it so I left some things out haha.