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      08.05.2009 19:55
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      A fantastic pet that will entertain and love you, but ask for very little in return.

      There are many, many animals here at Zoo FourPaws! I regularly bore you all half to death with the tales of Grace and Benson, my two dogs, so I thought it was about time some of the other animals got a look in! So I'd like to take this chance to share my experience of a pet which was once quite unusual but is now gaining in popularity, and that is the Chinchilla.

      *About Chinchillas*
      Chinchillas are classed as rodents, not dissimilar in appearance to that of a squirrel, although slightly larger and somewhat chunkier, and originate from the Andes Mountains in South America.

      There was once a time when keeping Chinchillas as pets was very unusual, and pretty much unheard of, although in recent years, more and more people are realising what fantastic companions they can be, and they are becoming a much more popular pet, especially in inner city areas, as they can be kept comfortably in flats and require minimal attention, so are popular with people who work long hours.

      The Chinchilla is most commonly a grey colour, and has gorgeous thick silky fur which is often sadly used in the sickening fur clothing industry, although grey is the most popular colour, they can also be found in white or cream, both with or without black markings.

      *Purchasing a Chinchilla*
      Due to their increasing popularity Chinchillas, which were once very difficult to source, are nowadays available fairly easy in most of the larger pet stores such as Pets At Home. When looking to purchase a Chinchilla, once you have done all the relevant research of course, pet stores such as Pets At Home can be a good place to start looking for your new family member as you can be pretty confident the animals sold in these establishments are healthy, fairly tame and have been use to humans from a young age.

      However, if you are looking for the less common white or cream coloured Chinchilla, a specialist breeder may well worth be tracking down. Although these are very few and far between, they do exist and when purchasing from a proper breeder, you can be fairly sure you are getting a very healthy, and well raised, pet.

      Of course, rescue centres are always another option. Many people take on these animals without knowing how to care for them properly and they sadly end up in rescue centres and there are many out there looking for new homes though no fault of their own.

      When purchasing a Chinchilla, ideally go to view them in the evening as they are somewhat nocturnal and this is when they will be most active so you can observe them to get a good idea of what their temperament and personality may be like. Make sure the cage in which they are housed is clean, large enough for the animals contained within, has plenty of things to occupy the Chinchillas and that the bedding is clean. The Chinchillas themselves should be alert, with clear eyes and ears, dandruff free fur, short teeth and be showing no signs of disease or illness, such as blood stained fur, large lumps on the skin, dull eyes or evidence of diarrhoea, Chinchillas are fairly nervous by nature so don't worry too much if they do not seem too keen on coming up to greet you.

      You should expect to pay between £40-£60 for a grey Chinchilla and up to £90 for those with white or cream fur.

      *Housing*
      Chinchillas are incredibly active animals and require a very large cage in which to live which MUST have several shelves or levels as Chinchillas are very keen and agile jumpers and need room to exhibit this natural behaviour.

      Chinchilla cages are widely available online and in some of the larger pet shops, although they do not come cheaply and you should be prepared to pay between £200-£300 for a decent sized one. Most sold in England are very well made however so should last you the entire lifespan of your Chinchillas, meaning once purchased, you shouldn't need to buy another one. Just like for hamsters, the base of a Chinchilla cage should be covered in a thick layer of wood shavings.

      Minimum housing requirements for TWO Chinchillas, as they are sociable animals and should be kept in same sex pairs where possible, should be at least 4 ft high by 3 ft wide, and ideally have at least 4 different levels, and access doors at the top, near the bottom and also on at least one of the sides. Chinchillas are avid chewers and will chew anything plastic in a matter of minutes, so ensure your cage is made from steel.

      Chinchilla cages need to be furnished with several different things:

      -Nesting Box. These are widely available in pet shops for about £10 and are generally made from wood because as I mentioned before plastic will be chewed to pieces within seconds. You should have one nest box provided per animal although you may well notice that your Chinchillas like to share the same one, in which case, the nesting box must be large enough for your animals to comfortably share. No bedding is needed inside these, your Chinchilla will just remove it, they like to sit straight on the wood!

      - Exercise Wheel. These are like hamster exercise wheels, but obviously larger to accommodate a Chinchilla, make sure you choose one that is at least 11 inches wide and made from steel with a solid running area with no open rungs in which your Chinchillas could injure their feet. Regardless of the number of Chinchillas you keep in one cage, you should only need to provide one wheel.

      - Toys. Chinchillas LOVE to play and need lots of things to keep them occupied such as large wooden tunnels, boxes to hide in, bridges, ladders, plant pots to crawl into and climbing apparatus. Chinchilla toys can be purchased from most large pet shops and from various places online, although they are fairly expensive.

      - Hanging Toys. In addition to normal toys on the base of your Chinchillas cage and ones placed on the shelves in their cage, you will also need to provide some hanging toys, which they can jump to from their shelves and swing about on. Be creative, just make sure everything is safe!

      - Dust Bath. I'm sure most people have seen, or heard about, how much Chinchillas love their dust baths! With these, you have two options, one is to provide a bath in your Chinchillas cage constantly, or secondly, you could just place one in for a few minutes once or twice a day, whatever you choose to do, you must make sure you do this, dust baths are ESSENTIAL. You can use a special Chinchilla bath, or even something like a large dog bowl and fill it with specially prepared bathing sand or powder.

      - Cooling Platform. Chinchillas cannot sweat, so they must have something in their cage to help themselves cool down if they get too warm. Look out for special Chinchilla cooling platforms in pet shops, or you can use something such as a small patio slab.

      - Mineral Stone. These are required so your Chinchilla can gnaw to wear their teeth down, they will also provide your pets with essential salts and minerals.

      - Litter Area. Have an area of your Chinchillas cage where they can go to the toilet, place extra sawdust in this area to soak up urine, or train your Chinchilla to use a small animal litter tray.

      - Food Bowl & Water Bottle. Choose ceramic or metal bowls which you can feed your Chinchilla from, and ideally a gravity drip fed bottle with a steel spout should provide your Chinchillas water supply, although a shallow bowl can be used if you so wish.

      *Feeding*
      The feeding requirements of a Chinchilla are very easy to meet and they have a fairly simple diet which doesn't need too much planning. For an adult Chinchilla, they should have one meal of Chinchilla pellet food, ideally fed in the evening, then an unlimited supply of fresh hay. As Chinchillas do not have a gall bladder, they should not be fed foods which are high in fat as this may cause liver damage by fatty deposits building up.

      I feed my Chinchillas on a food called 'Science Selective Chinchilla' which is widely available online and they have 2 tablespoons each per day, then all the fresh hay they want and also small pieces of fruit and vegetables daily, such as carrot, strawberry, banana (dried or fresh) and cranberries. I then also give them occasional treats of cuttlefish, brazil nuts, dandelion leaves or shop brought Chinchilla treats weekly.

      If feeding a good quality pellet food with a variety of fruit and vegetables, then additional vitamin supplements will not be needed. You should however, take care to avoid any gas producing foods such as sprouts, cabbage or broccoli.

      *Handling*
      Chinchillas are fairly skittish animals and do not enjoy huge amounts of handling, although they do tolerate, and also quite enjoy, the occasional handling session as they do tend to form fairly strong bonds with their owners. When handling a Chinchilla, make sure you have clean hands, and they get their scent on you (by rubbing your hand in their bedding) and then offer your hand for your Chinchilla to sniff. When they are comfortable with you doing this you can then start running your hand along their backs gently, or tickling them behind their ears (most love this!), and then gradually move on to scooping them up gently. Chinchillas are able to instantly shed clumps of fur if they feel threaten, to get the ''predator'' to let go of them, so if this does happen, don't panic, just place your Chinchilla back in its cage and leave it well alone for a few days.

      Always hold Chinchillas close to your body as it makes them feel safe and never pick them up by their ears or tails. Chinchillas rarely bite, but when they do, god it's painful! So for this reason, they are not an ideal pet for children, and may not be suitable for those entirely confident with handling animals. Also, bear in mind that Chinchillas have no control over their bowels, so only handle whilst wearing old clothes! Although, Chinchilla droppings are thankfully dry with no smell, so you should be ok!

      When getting your Chinchilla out of its cage, try to do it during the evening as they are nocturnal, and don't wake them up, only get them out if they are already awake. A sleepy Chinchilla is a grumpy one and won't tolerate handling at all!

      *Health Care*
      Chinchillas are generally fairly healthy animals and tend to suffer from very few illnesses. When you first bring your Chinchillas home though, make sure you find out if your local vet caters for Chinchillas, as you will be surprised how many do not. Some common health problems to look out for are:

      - Malocclusion: As Chinchillas are rodents, their teeth grow constantly at a rate of 2-3 inches per year. Malocclusion is the condition when a Chinchillas teeth do not align properly and grow in awkward directions causing overgrown teeth and making eating painful, if not, impossible. This can be avoided by providing hard things for your Chinchilla to chew on such as a pumice stone, cuttlefish bones, branches of fruit trees or a mineral block.

      - Colds: Chinchillas can catch colds from you, and you can catch colds from them! So make sure you do not handle your Chinchillas if you are suffering with one and if possible, ask someone else if they could care for them until you are better.

      - Humpback: This is a term that refers to extreme liver damager or bowel disorders. The Chinchilla will appear extremely thin, with a hump back like appearance and will require veterinary attention immediately.

      - Diarrhoea. This is caused by too many fresh foods and can be serious in some cases. So keep feeding of fresh foods to a minimum and seek veterinary attention should your Chinchilla have loose motions for more than 24 hours, as after that, dehydration can quickly set in.

      *My experience of Chinchillas*
      When I was a kid my best friend had a Chinchilla, and I was SO jealous, I absolutely loved the little thing but my parents would never let me have one. Hence the reason, that when I left home and got my own place, and the opportunity to own Chinchillas came up, I jumped at the chance!

      I have two Chinchillas, both females and both rescue animals. Firstly is Pepper she is of the white colouring and is around 1 year old, she is so affectionate it is unreal and loves human company, she'd spend all day out of her cage if I let her and next is Dusty, who is a standard grey, around 8 years old and much shyer that Pepper, preferring just to be stroked in her cage, rather than taken out and played with.

      I have an awful lot of pets, and I love them all dearly, but I have to say that Pepper and Dusty are two of the most rewarding animals to own. They're absolutely beautiful and have such complex personalities and are fascinating animals to watch, they are incredibly active and I can easily loose a few hours just sitting watching them play or taking Pepper out for a cuddle, she charges around the place and will then crash out on my lap and snooze her little head off, she is hilarious to watch and it appears that no one ever told her she is a Chinchilla. She is scared of nothing, LOVES to be handled and adores human attention and completely and utterly thrives off of interacting with me and my fiancé, she has even been known to chase after my dogs when I have her out off her cage!

      Dusty on the other hand is much shyer. I adopted her when she was around 7 years old, so hasn't grown up around me like Pepper has (I got her at 6 months old) and although she does tolerate handling, I tend not to get her out too much as she is much happier just being stroked in her cage, which is fine by me, I don't know what she went through before I adopted her and I'm not going to make her do anything she isn't happy with.

      Dusty and Pepper have a great relationship with one another, I adopted them at separate times but they quite happily share the same cage and snuggle up to sleep every night, they really would be lost without each other and even when I take Pepper out to play with, Dusty will sit there at the cage door waiting for her friend to return.

      The only real downside of owning Chinchillas is the space that they need. They need a very large cage- Pepper and Dusty have a 3ft wide by 5ft high one which obviously does take up a fair bit of space in my tiny cottage but other than that, I can't really find many other faults with them!

      They don't smell like many rodent pets, they are beautiful animals and incredibly entertaining to watch. They require very little attention, are nocturnal, are very easy to keep happy and their feeding requirement are simple to meet. They are quite costly to keep though I suppose, their food and bathing sand is relatively expensive, so that could be considered a downside aswell.

      Overall, if you have the room and are long term committed (Chinchillas can live for up to 15 years), then I highly recommend this fantastic animal if you are looking for a different, unusual and loving pet.

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        24.01.2008 23:32
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        remember pets are a pain if you like a holiday, i havent had one in 7 years because of my animals

        Chinchillas are available in most large pet shops and although they are not as popular as hamsters or guinea pigs they make great pets.
        They are alert, friendly and funny animals to watch.

        My chinchillas are very nervous but have been previously miss treated, they wont bite unless startled, but as time has gone on they have become less frightened and more hand tame.

        Chinchillas fur is very fine and fragile this will easily fall out if handled by you too much, i find picking my chinchillas up by sliding my hand under neith them then cuddling them to my body using my arms as opposed to my hands helps to stop them loosing there fur.

        Chinchillas can tolerate a wide range of temperatures from 5 to 25'c so can be kept out side during the warmer months just like a rabbit can but i keep mine in my shed which has never been used as a shed just a pet room with lots of vivs so it never drops below 15'c at night.

        My chinchillas have a cage which is 6 foot tall by 3 foot wide and 3 foot deep, you could get away with a smaller cage but if you are going to take on the responsibility of a pet then i think you should give it the best you possibly can. It is made of metal, has branches for them to climb and i use wood chip in the bottom as a base.

        We have a hide box in with our chinchillas, similar to a birds nesting box just a bit bigger where they like to sleep and also hoard food.

        Chinchillas have to have a dust bath daily, this involves me putting a bowl of silver sand in each day for a couple of hours which they roll in and also kick everywhere making a terrible mess which is why they are now in the reptile room and not my livingroom. You need to do this to keep there coats clean.

        poo and uneaten food should be taken out of there cage daily and the cage thoroughly cleaned once a week.

        My chinchillas have a pellet food especially designed for chinchillas, lettuce, carrot, apple and hay.

        I tried a water bowl in with my chinchillas but spent most of my time cleaning up the spills as they were very clumbsey with it so now i have resorted to a rabbit bottle which they have taken to very well.

        Pet shops recomend keeping chinchillas on thee own as they are aparently agressive to each other.

        They are supposed to breed realy easily, from about 6 months old but i have a male and female pair that have never had a crossed word in the 3 years we have had them and have never mated either, dont know why, maybee they are past it now any way they are about 5 years old.

        The life expectancy for a chinchilla is 5 to 6 years.

        These make brilliant pets and although pet shops recomen them for children i wouldnt recomend them for young children as mine are quite timid of loud noises or sudden movements but definatley good fun and company for an adult.

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          22.10.2007 00:02
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          Wonderfull little rodents

          Ill start by telling you about my two boys Chokey (Wilson white aged approximately 2 years) and Gillium (standard grey aged one)

          I got Chokey last year, at the time i was looking for a chinchilla and saw him advertised for free, i felt sorry for him being advertised in such a manner (as people know sometimes animals offered in this way don't end up in sutible homes) so i went and picked up my new little boy - he came with his (dirty) cage and a food im sure anyone who owns a chinchilla will know is inappropriate alone

          After Chokey had settled in i decided to get him a companion and got Gillium - a one year old stan
          dard grey male, from a rescue in Cumbria, after 3 weeks of introducing the two boys they lived together and you wouldn't guess they were ever apart

          -Food-

          Chinchillas need a good pellet and hay based diet with fresh water from a water bottle avalible, commercial chinchilla mixes such as Charlie chinchilla are inappropriate as they allow the chin to selectively eat thus leaving pieces out of their diet. Hay should always be available.

          Hay can be provided through a hook on hay rack and food should be given in a metal or ceramic bowl as plastic is hazardous

          Treats can be given in small quantity, a firm favorite being raisins, mini shredded wheat is also a great treat.

          -Bath-

          They also need a dust bath every 1-3 days, the sand bath should not be left in the cage but they should be allowed assess to it for about 20 mins.

          The sand or dust used is a specific kind of volcanic dust - so any other kind of sand is unsutible and should not be used.

          -Toys and wheels-

          Chinchillas should not be given plastic toys as they can and will chew it this could cause problems such as the digestive tract becoming blocked and it could prove fatal.

          They can however have willow and wooden toys, theres quite a few great wooden toys on the market at the moment - chins love stripping bark from log toys but you have to be careful that they toys you provide are made from a safe wood (cherry tree wood can be fatal - its always best to look up what woods are safe as theres plenty of lists out there)

          Chinchillas LOVE apple tree wood, if you have an apple tree accessible to you and you know it hasn't been sprayed with and pesticides picking a few twigs and washing and baking them on a low heat (to kill any bugs) will prove a perfect treat for your chins

          Cardboard tubes and boxes are also great toys for chins as they love to chew them up. Large postal or carpet tubes are excellent for them to crawl through

          Another great toy for chins is a hammock made from polar fleece and hung in the cage, fleece covered carpet tubes are also a good addition.
          Wheels are also a great pastime for chins - theres a few metal wheels big enough (a wheel should be at least 16") including one that allows the chin to run in a natural position, these wheels are a great addition to any cage but in summer (and warm weather) and also with young chins should have supervised usage as the chin can overheat if it over exercises.

          -Cages and ledges-

          Wire floors are not sutible for chins, some cages come with wire ledges or a wire insert in the bottom of the cage, this could cause bumble foot or cause the chin to break its leg by it becoming trapped in the mesh - these floors can be covered with cardboard or tiles.
          Plastic floors should never be used in a chinchillas cage.

          Floors and also be replaced/added with the use of wooden shelving (untreated kiln dried pine), these can be attached to the cage using washers and screws and provide extra space and chewing material.

          Chinchillas need a decent sized cage, the bigger the better. My chins are in a 2.5ft wide by 5ft high aviary, converted with shelving to make it sutible for them.

          High cages should be made safe with hammocks and shelves so the chin can never have too high of a fall.

          -Playing out time-

          Chinchillas should be given about 1-3 hours of supervised outside of the cage playtime a day to let them exercise and play - the room should be chin proofed as they will chew anything left out including electrical cables.

          A run around ball is totally unsutible for a chin, chinchillas are prone to overheating and being trapped in a plastic ball causes this to happen quickly. Run around balls do not let the chinchilla run properly - a chinchillas bounces when it runs and the ball dosen't let the chin do this. All in all a runaround ball is a stressfull and dangerous experience for the chinchilla.

          -Overheating-

          In warm weather you should be very careful that your chinchilla does not get too warm, they are prone to heatstroke and this can prove fatal. A aircontitioner, frozen bottles of water under the cage or cooled piece of granite/tile should be provided to ensure the chin can cool down. One sign of a overhearing chin is red ears and lethargy.

          Chinchillas are brilliant pets if you have the time to devote to them, they are not cuddle pets but will allow you do stroke them when they want you to (one of my boys loves his tummy rubbed) though you have to remember every chin is different and they all have their own personality

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            01.05.2004 02:12
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            After recently losing my first Chinchilla Cecil I realised how speacial these animals are and how once you have a Chinchilla they really do become apart of your life in a special way! NATURAL CHINCHILLAS - SOUTH AMERICA The Chinchillas' original home is the dry areas of the High Andes and Cordillera in South America where they live in caves and rock crevices. They have to hide from their worst enemies which include birds of prey, and they also like to protect themselves from very strong sunlight. They live as high up as the snowlines in the mountains as cold does not faze them because they have very thick fur which protects them from losing body heat. Due to their habitat in South America and their surroundings chinchillas feed for most of their year out there on dry berries, roots, dry grasses and bark which they knaw from branches. They also bathed in the dry rocky dust, powdering themselves thoroughly and then shaking it off along with the greasy skin and fur debris which sticks to their coat. When they were first discovered during the Spanish Conquest in South America they were hunted down for their pelts by very rich Spanish families who could afford to have their pelts as coats! I think that that is so cruel! CHINCHILLAS AS PETS: One of the first things I have learnt from my Chins is that they need peace and quiet during the day. Also you need to situate them where is it not too warm as they can tolerate cold and also in a dry climate. Evenings are the times when these cute furry friends of ours crave activity and must be fed. They do appreciate as much attention from their owners as possible and I have learnt that the more time you spend talking to your Chin and calling it by its name and getting close to it the less shy he/she will become and the happier they will be. They will also definitely respon more when you are in the same room as them. Breeding: I have never bred, hopefully I will one day b
            ut I have learnt a bit about it from books. Due to their origination of the high Andes and Cordilleras nature arranged their breeding cycles to accommodate these natural conditions. The winter is the best time for your chin to give birth to the little ones, so fertilization will occur in the late autumn and the beginning of winter. Gestation lasts on average 111 days plus or minus 3 days, so thats about 4 months! As it can still be quite cold at this time of year, the mother has only one or two babis which she can provide for and keep warm. The babies are born fully furred. when they are born the amniotic sac bursts and so they are soaking wet from fluid. If the mother doesn't help at once there is a danger that they could stiffen in the cold (in the wild). The babies keep in touch with their mother by emitting soft whistling sounds answered by their mothers own whistle. The grow quickly and by 8 weeks old they are able to feed themselves.The babies that are born are able to breed the next winter themselves, so the following generation can be born the following spring. Feeding and Diet: The diet consists of four components: 1) Drinking water: this should be at room temperature and provided fresh daily. Fruit vinegar (1 teaspoon per half pint water) has been used successfully as a supplement to drinking water. For deficiencies, you can add Carlsbad salts as well as vitamins to the water 2)Ready-made feed, pellet etc: a level tablespoon of feed is enough in the morning. 3)Hay: As Chins are creatures of the Andes they have had to eat parched plants and dry fruit remnants. For most of the year the dried-out plant life is especially important. That is why hay is necessary for our darling Chins because it is good for their digestive system. 4) Supplementary feed: This should only be given in small quatities. Chins like raisins best of all. I have heard that it is best to buy the blue ones without sulphur (i.e. no sulphur dioxide). Other d
            ried foods are good too such as rose hips and dried thistle. Tree branches are also good for their teeth such as willow, hazlenut and fruit tree branches. Apples too are very much liked, but only a small slice daily. From personal experience I have found my chins love cashew nuts but I don't give them many as I don't feel it is good for their system. My chin lives in a very large cage with 3 levels and lots of tubes and a nice wooden house that she can gnaw on. I feed Joey once everyday, normally at night time when she is just waking up so that she can be active at night! She also has a giant like hamster ball to run around in when I can't watch her on the loose which is very useful and she seems to love it! My personal view on Chins is that they are the most amazing creatures you will ever find, and once you have one you have to have many more! They are very satisfying and rewarding cute furry friends who will make a big difference in your life as they are very special!!!

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              03.09.2003 22:16
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              My chinchilla is called arnie. the most gorgeous creature i have seen. they are the softest friendliest creatures around. they are so cute and if you get them young the love to be held ad to play with you. they need a play time anyway what ever age because they are very like humans. They get very depressed if left alone for too long and then just wont do anything so its always good to get them out for an hour a day at least. they have a bath in sand to keep there coats soft and it is the cutest thing to watch they have a little scurry around in the sand then roll over in it and its adorable, they are nocturnal creature and are very easy to look after clean them once a month they should be fine top up there water and food and there you have it and aslong as you play with him you have the happiest pet around. There very much mummys boys pets. when they realise who is the owner thy are very loyal and happy to see you always coming up to the cage. they need one person they can really trust as this is the only person they will climb on to. more like a silent companion than a pet. becoming very very trendy yet quite difficult to get hold of.

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                27.11.2002 22:57
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                Well i think chinchillas are brilliant. My chinchilla i have had for 3-4 weeks and she never chews things she shouldnt she has never got wet or got in trouble! GREAT CHIN! I think chinchillas are brilliant creatures and i am thinking of getting another for my birthday in March. My chinchilla cost £60 and the cage was £80 but if you have the money they are really worth it. I have heard of standard grey chinchillas (the one i have) being only £30 but i just wish mine was! Chinchillas are caring cuddly animals if they let you into your heart you just need a friendly one. Even if they arent friendly they can be with love and affection. To learn more about chinchillas go to my site http://www.lorenshomepage400.chinchillas.org or try http://www.chinchillaclub.com these sites are top notch for information. Let a chinchilla into your heart today and never let them go. Oh and by the way chinchillas were classed as rodents but due to new scientific discovery there not! So they arent mangy rodents which i have heard from some peopple who call them rats. (no offence to rats!) Also my whole family enjoys playing with my chinchilla!

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                  17.09.2002 17:15
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                  I've had my chinchilla for almost a year now. Me and my boyfriend bought him from a woman who was going back to America and she couldn't take him. When we originally got him he was called Woody, needless to say he's not now! We called him Graham, it suits him so much, he looks like how I imaging Grahams to look, middle-aged and gray! Graham is about 2 and a half years old. He is a normal gray coloured chinchilla and has a weird personality. He acts like a naughty little boy, especially when he wants some attention. Graham always seems to have a devious look on his face and looks as though he is up to something! Chinchillas need a lot of care and attention and although the seem the perfect pet for children - they're not! They aren't like hamsters and guinea pigs. They aren't tame creatures. Although they look cute and cuddly, they have a nasty bite on them -so my boyfriend says! Chinchillas don't like being handled, they are not the type of pet you can put on your lap and stroke for hours, an occasional tickle is all you're likely to get! Another key point to remember is, how long they're going to be around, they're unlike hamsters who normally last a few years, chinchillas can live up to 20 years old, make sure you're ready to make that sort of commitment to something that has to live in a cage for those 20 years, make sure you know you're going to have some sort of pleasure from keeping it. Although we bought Graham from some else, I would suggest buying a chinchilla from a private breeder, as pet shops are less likely to provide you with the correct information and background history, it is best to get a chinchilla from young, as they become used to you, and may become more tame if they grow up with the same person or family. It is also best to get more than one chinchilla, they prefer to live in pairs or groups and single chinchillas are more likely to become depressed and bored by th
                  emselves. If you have more than one chinchilla they are less dependant on you, and rely more on each other. But remember if there are males and females, expect lots of little chinchillas running about! Two female chinchillas get on better than males, and are less likely to fight. Luckily when we got Graham we got the cage included in the price, which was lucky as the prices can be really high. They usually range from about £50 to £200 depending on the size and design. Chinchillas themselves can cost between £30 and £70 depending on where they are bought. Grahams cage is about 3 and a half feet long and 3 feet tall, it has three levels, and is made of thick wire mesh, if the cage was made of anything else, Graham would just sit and eat it all day. It is important that the cage has plenty to keep the chinchilla occupied, including sticks, wood, tubes, and anything else you consider to be interesting and safe. Plastic tubes aren't wise to use as the chinchilla may choke on what he chews off it. The cage should also contain, a nesting box, which should have some sort of bedding in it, I use a furry type of bedding that can be bought from any pet shop for about 99p and can be used with most small animals, including, mice and hamsters. The cage must also contain a bathing bowl, containing fine chinchilla dust, DON'T USE SAND! Normal sand can damage the animals skin, I recommend using Charlie's Chinchilla Sand, you get a 4 litre bottle of it for about £2.49 from most pet shops. The sand should be available daily for at least 10 minutes. Chinchillas eat small pellets, which are quite cheap to but they also like numerous other things including: Raisins Apple Millet (what you put in bird cages) Peanuts Chinchilla Treats All fruit and vegetables should be given in small amounts as it can cause the animal to get diarrhoea. They also like small animal treats but make sure you find out if they are suitable for
                  chinchillas before you give them any as some treats can be bad for them, especially rabbit treats. Cuttlefish is also a cheap way for them to gnaw down their teeth, as some specially made biting blocks can be expensive. It is important that they have something in their cage to chew on, to wear down their long teeth. Chinchillas have a habit of nibbling on everything, anything that they come into contact with, in fact. They check to see if it's nice, or food, or if it's going to hurt them. Make sure you watch out for wires when you let them out! Electric shocks are fatal. Graham has chewed everything from wires, to a guitar, so remember - Nothing is safe! Chinchillas need plenty of exercise and should be given plenty of time to run about out of their cage, they are very fast creatures, and sometimes very hard to catch! Luckily Graham hasn't had anything wrong with him yet, he did have poorly ears but they cleared up quickly so there was no need to take him to the vet, but make sure you know what to watch out for. We had no idea how to look after Graham when we got him, so my advice is, invest in a good information book, there are also free information leaflets at most pet shops, and if you're not sure ask someone in store. Chinchillas can make great pets but remember, they are nocturnal animals, they come out when they want to play, you can't force them to come out during the day, they'd rather wake you up at 3am in the morning and then play! That is why it is important you think about what you are getting yourself into before you buy a chinchilla, do your research and make sure they are the right pet for you before you make your purchase. Remember the little bugger will be about for at least 15 years, make sure you take this into consideration!! Thanks for taking the time to read this C

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                    02.04.2002 01:17
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                    Over the last few years theres been a wave of new trends in pets. No longer content with dogs and hamsters , the pet world has moved on to snakes, spiders, even scorpions!!! Personally I can't understand why anyone would want a pet scorpion, except to scare other people (like me). I mean, crazy much? No offense to any scorpion owners out there! On the cuddlier end of the trendy pet scale are chipmunks, degus, and of course, chinchillas. Personally I think caging animals like chipmunks (which are essentially squirrels) is dead cruel. I always felt the same about chinchillas until I fell in love with a pair at an animal sanctuary a couple of years ago. Unlike chipmunks, chinchillas can become very very tame, which gives me ideas that they are more contented pets. Of course, the first thing about keeping chinchillas is that it isn't like keeping any other small pets like rabbits or rats. Chincillas are fairly specialised animals who need more care and a lot more love than your average gerbil. Chinchillas originate in the mountains of South America and were named after the Chincha Indians by Spanish settlera. They are rodents, however they are unusual in a few ways. First of all, they only produce one or two young, which is strange in rodents. They have exceptionally long gestation periods and because of this the young are born well formed with fur. They also live a lot longer than your average rodent, for around fifteen years if well looked after- another reason that a chinchilla is a bigger responsibility than another small pet. Apparently they are most closely related to guinea pigs. Chinchillas, in my opinion, are the cutest little animals ever. They look like a cross between a hamster and a squirrel. They have fat little ball-like bodies, big dark eyes, big ears and squirrel like tails. They also have exquisitely soft fur, this is why they were often used for fur coats (boooooooo!). The fur is silky soft and bouncy to th
                    e touch, but also comes out very easily with stress or tugging at the fur (so be careful!). They grow to around 12 inches and they are usually some shade of grey from dark silver to lighter colours. However, you can get them in different varietes now- whites, albinos, mosaics (really pretty patched chinchillas), black, brown and blue velvets (dark on top with paler sides), beige, the very rare african violet, blues and rose-pinks. Because they are newer pets than other animals combined with them being more compilicated to breed means there arent as many varieties of chinchilla as say, fancy rabbits. Chinchilla's need a LOT of space. The bigger the cage you can give them, the better, and the more handling and time out of the cage they have, better still. I would suggest the bare minimum for one chinchilla as 90cm high by 60 cm wide by 50cm deep. Obviously this kind of cage is both expensive and demanding in terms of space, and the size should be substantially bigger for more than one chinchilla. Of course the cage should be out of direct sunlight and draughts, and preferably in a quiet part of the house. Chinchillas don't mind cold but overheating can be fatal. The cage should be or strong wire mesh, as chinchillas, like all rodents, are great escape artists! Ideally rhe cage should have several levels to provide more room for excersize. The cage should have a nesting box, and soft flooring like shavings can be used. Alternately, the bottom can be raised mesh with a floor with cat litter. Of course, this makes the cage easier to clean. The cage should be cleaned at least once a week and disinfected (with small animal disinfectant to be found in big pet stores) once a month. The more ladders and platforms provided, the better, and providing a chinchilla with a playmate is the best entertainment of all. Non-poisonous branches or cuttlebone can be provided for them to grind their teeth on, otherwise they will use the bars and the noi
                    se will make you grind YOUR teeth! You should try to allow your pet at least an hour out of cage during the day. If you have a garden you can put them in a rabbit run on mild days (out of direct sunlight, and there should be a shelter). The initial outlay of the caging can be very expensive (chinchilla cages cost at least £60, and these ones tend to be small). Please invest as large a cage as you can afford and find room for if you plan to get a chinchilla. Chinchillas should be fed specialised chinchilla pellets, not general small animal food as their nutritional needs are different. If you have the room to buy a big bag then you'll save money, but you'll need to invest in a bin to keep the food fresh. They should also be provided with some hay. There should always be plenty of water available, and you can treat your chinchilla with toast, dried fruit, and breakfast cereal. Avoid feeding them peanuts, sunflower seeds or flaked maize. Avoid feeding chinchilla's fresh fruit and veg, and never feed it anything sweet (this includes things like digestive biscuits) as they are slightly diabetic by nature. And don't overfeed them as they can get fat easily too. It may seem dull to you, but chinchillas have fussier stomachs than most rodents, who can eat anything. Provide them with a heavy earthenware bowl so they can't tip it or chew at it. Change the water daily and give it a good scrub with a little bottle brush. Chinchillas are fastidious about grooming and will keep themselves clean. You can give them a going over with a soft brush once they are tame if you wish, they will probably enjoy the attention! Be careful not to snag their coats. The most important (and in fact essential) part of grooming is providing the chinchilla a dust bath. You can buy special tubs for this, and also specialised chinchilla sand (do not use ordinary sand). The chinchilla will roll in the sand. This helps to keep the coat in tip top condi
                    tion and is a very important part of caring for them. Chinchillas are delicate and need to be handled carefully, so they may not be suitable for kids. They have timid natures but with gentle handling become very friendly and tame, and it is rare for a chinchilla to bite. If they are handled roughly they will become stressed and shed hair or even start pulling at their coats, but if handled gently become wonderful characters. All in all, in my opinion chinchillas are the only 'trendy' pet really suited to captivity, this may have something to do with years of being ranch farmed for their fur and having more-or-less disappeared in the wild. They make wonderful, loving pets for older teenager or adults, I will stress again that they arent really pets for children or families. Chinchillas are nocturnal too, so this will suit most older people who work or are at college or school. They also grow to an old age if well looked after, so you can become as attached to them as you might a dog or cat (which can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it). However, this same tendancy means that they are quite a big commitment, they can live longer than your average dog! Although the care of chinchillas isn't particularly compilicated, it is more so than that of other rodents, and you must bear this in mind when buying them, along with the fact that the initial outlay will be both costly and demanding space-wise. The chinchilla ittself will cost about £30 (this is dependant on age and colour- younger and more unusual chinchillas are costlier) and for the cage you're looking at £80 at the very least for a decent sized one. Of course, you could make your own cage. However, the chinchillas biggest advantage outweighs its negative. They are very charming and beautiful little animals who become very friendly is handled in the correct manner. So if you have the space, the cash, and no kids (or very well-beh
                    aved ones) and want something more unusual, more challenging and more loving than a rabbit, mouse or hamster, but less demanding than a cat or dog, then a chinchilla could be the pet for you.

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                      30.10.2001 21:47
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                      Many people feel their home isn’t a home without a pet of some kind. I’m one of these people, and I’d ideally love to have a dog or a cat, but as I live in a fairly small flat and work all day, it isn’t practical and wouldn’t be fair to such a dependent animal. For anyone who feels the same way...I highly recommend a chinchilla as the ideal pet! Chinchilla’s are small furry mammals, slightly smaller than a rabbit, and the best way I can think of describing them is like a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel. They are nocturnal, which means they are awake most of the night, and they can live up to 15 years if cared for properly. They require a large cage suitably equipped with plenty of things to chew, standard chinchilla food once a day, and a daily dust bath – chinchillas bathe in fine dust rather than water, and a chinny taking its bath is the cutest, funniest thing you’re ever likely to see! I have two chinchillas, Odin (a male beige, 5 months old) and the more recent addition to our little family, Freya – a female charcoal tipped grey. They are both completely different in temperament - Odin is extremely lively and vocal, he doesn’t like to be stroked but will happily bound all over the room and everyone in it when let out of the cage. Freya is very placid and quiet, she doesn’t vocalise at all but likes to sit in her dust bath and chew straw, when let out of the cage she might trot about for a little while but is happy to be returned to it. The plan is for Odin and Freya to eventually mate and produce babies, but as Freya’s only been with us for just under a week we’re keeping them separated at the moment, until she gets used to the cage and the smell and sound of her new mate. A chinchilla pregnancy lasts for approximately three months and the female should not be handled during this time. Usually only one baby will be produced, although tw
                      o or three is not unlikely. One important tip for chinchilla keeping...Buy your chin from a private breeder rather than a pet shop. In particular STAY AWAY from large pet superstores such as Petsmart and Petsworld. Chinchillas are very timid animals and the first few months are crucial in the development of their confidence and will affect their temperament for the rest of their lives. A chinchilla who is used to being handled by its owners and has spent the first few months of its life in a stable environment will have a much better temperament than one who has been kept in a noisy pet store, surrounded by strange, frightening smells and gawked at by hundreds of different people every day. A chinchilla raised in such an environment is also likely to be weak and stressed, as the noisiness of a petshop during the day is not compatible with its need to sleep. All the chinchillas I examined in pet shops looked nervous, twitchy and miserable. A chinchilla will provide its owners with hours of fun and affection. It’s important to let a chinchilla have a run outside its cage at least every other day, as they need the exercise and enjoy the interaction between them and their owner. This is why chinchillas are the perfect pet for full time workers – they are self sufficient enough to be left on their own during the say, but are affectionate and lively pets in the evening. In the wild, chinchillas are desert rock hoppers and this is evident in the way they leap from object to object – Odin’s favourite move is to leap from the bed to the washing basket and then up onto the windowsill. They must be watched at all times, as they are likely to chew EVERYTHING, particularly things they shouldn’t! Both my sofa and table have suffered from the dreaded chinny chew! My chinchillas love chewing on pumice stones to keep their teeth short and sharp, but anything will do….shoes, books, pillows, they’re not fussy! It’s very important to make sure a chinchilla doesn’t become too hot. Chinchillas are uncomfortable with high temperatures and can even fall victim to something called ‘heat prostration’ where they collapse and lie on their sides breathing shallowly and appearing very ill. Luckily, my flat is quite airy and I have a fan for the summer, so my chins don’t suffer too badly with the heat. NEVER put a chinchillas cage near a radiator or in direct sunlight – this would be very harmful for your pet I’d recommend chinchillas above every other pet apart from a cat or dog. I’ve kept lots of other animals – hamsters are sweet but too small to interact with properly, rats I just could not get on with, and mice and gerbils tend to be a bit smelly. Chinchillas look and feel gorgeous and are lively, intelligent and clean. I love mine to bits, and can’t wait for them to have babies...I’ll update this op when the first litter is born!

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                        21.09.2001 16:38
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                        If you are thinking of getting a chinchilla I would definately recommend it. They differ from a lot of rodents in the fact that they dont smell and they dont get fleas. Get one though as they are not like other animals where if you dont want to breed then you get two of the same sex. The first thing to do is to get a cage. You do not have to buy an expensive one. You can get a fireguard and adjust that accordingly. You will also need a tray that you can slide in and out to change the sawdust. In the cage you will need a shelf, a bowl for food, a drinking bottle, a tin or something for him to have a bath in and an apple tree branch. We have also got some wooden toys so that he can use them for his teeth and a wooden roll so that he can run in and out of it and play. Daily you will need to change his water and his food in his bowl. Do not over feed him. You will also need to put his sand bath in for 10 minutes. This is fun to watch him having a bath in it. He will really enjoy it. When we first got our chinchilla he kept getting out of his cage and we could not see how it was done. Underneath all that fur he is very thin and he could squeeze through the bars. We even watched him do it but could not believe it. Besides chinchilla food our chinny loves breadsticks and chinchilla choc drops. You have to give these as special treats or he would eat one after the other. Our chinchilla loves to have his ears stroked, his chin and tummy tickled. This makes him go real doppy! They love a lot of love and attention. When you get him out dont forget to hold him firmly but also give him cuddles as he loves this. They say chinchillas dont like cats but ours does. Our cats are scared of him and wont go anywhere near him. He also loves company, is so very very nosy, and wants to see what is going on and of course loves being talked to. He also loves music. Chinchillas are really lovely pets and great fun in fact they can become part of the family like ours has

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                          17.09.2001 20:18
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                          • "they can give a nasty bite"

                          Well I have read a few of the opinions written on chinchillas and nobody really has a bad word to say about them, well I do I'm afraid. My chinchilla was grey and he was called horace, he was so cute as they all are. I bought him from a local pet shop for around £40.00, then the cage which was a lot more expensive than the chinchilla. Anyway he was fairly easy to look after the food was cheap enough and he had a bath in special sand every day. I would let him out each day to run around and that is when the trouble began. You have to watch them like a hawk as the like to chew things especially wires and cables. I had one video recorder blown up, the washing machine cable chewed through and numerous other wires annihilated. then when you wanted to put him back in it was a nightmare to catch him almost impossible. I had to wait until he got in the cage of his own accord then run over and shut it before he escaped and more often than not he beat me to the door. Many times I came in and found he had escaped he would stand on a platform above the door and pull it up. So I had to put a small padlock on it. Ther is no doubt that they are cute and cuddly but they are very clever and naughty as well which can cost you money as mine did a few times. At the time I also had a little budgie who used to talk and was very tame he used to land on the chinchillas cage and talk through the bars to horace as. often horace was grumpy and used to try and bite the bird but he usually moved very quickly out of reach. except one day he wasn't fast enough and got bitten very badly as a result he died a few days later. After that the chinchilla started to pick on my dogs. Everytime they went near the cage for a look he would try and bite them in the end they wouldnt go near him and they were big strapping rottweilers even they were wary of him. So if you are thinking of getting one yes they are
                          cute and easy to care for they are very clean and dont have a smell. They can make good pets but they can also be very destructive if not supervised. Sadly I had to rehome him due to the fact he kept harassing the dogs, he went to a good home, where I hear that he is getting on fine but is still into chewing stuff.

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                            19.05.2001 21:07
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                            As you'll have gathered from the other reviews, chinchillas are just gorgeous little creatures. They're expensive to buy but fairly easy to maintain and I wouldn't agree that they tend to bite or that their teeth are very sharp - not when compared with a hamster, for example! Our chinchilla was pretty friendly and loved to be tickled under the chin. We did let her out of her cage for a run, although we had to watch her all the time and it was good exercise for us when trying to get her back in her cage! You'll notice the past tense on the above paragraph. Unfortunately, our chinchilla died when she was only 3 years old (they can live for anything up to 20 years). She picked up an infection in her mouth and was taken very promptly to the vet but she died under the anaesthetic. As far as I can tell, chinchillas are still pretty rare as pets and vets are not used to dealing with them. The nurse at our vet surgery said that they'd never had one in for treatment before and we live in a 70,000 population strong town, not a little village. If you're thinking of having a chinchilla, I'd advise you to read up on them a lot before buying - there are some good websites on chinchillas. You have to be aware of their health, as they can be sensitive to infections and so on, particularly in their stomachs, and I'd definitely advise that you go to the vet armed with as much information as possible if your chinchilla is poorly. Other than that, go and buy one. They're brilliant little pets!

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                              23.12.2000 04:11
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                              To start with, purchasing a chinchilla can be pretty expensive. In my area they usually cost around £35 for the common haired variety, but this may vary elsewhere. Added on top of this is a cage is required which needs to be made of metal, otherwise they will just chew it, and large. A decent cage can cost quite a large sum too. Once you have the chinchilla however it is rather inexpensive to feed and maintain. Pellets should be provided as its staple diet. I purchase a bag for £1 which lasts a few weeks. Additional food can be given but be warned about overfeeding treats as it can make them ill. Chinchilla's have a particular liking for sunflower seeds and raisins.They could eat them all day! From what I have read and experience these should be given in moderation. Water should be provided through a water bottle as they have a tendency to knock bowls over. Wet fur is not a great thing. Hay should be provided often and the cage lined with wood shavings. If possible, a chinchilla box where they can sleep should be provided. A sand bath is essential and should be provided regularly. From personal experience I would warn about letting the chinchilla run free around the house. They have a tendency to chew everything in sight, as my remote control found out, which poses a particular problem around wires. My chinchilla even managed to climb up the chimney! Luckily he came straight back down. Chinchilla's are quite inquisitive to say the least. My chinchilla, which is grey and male, tends to be called either Chin Chin or Chiny. We cannot decide so it gets both names! I'd definitely recommend a chinchilla. They are friendly animals and, unlike other animals, do not have a tendency to bite. Overall they are wonderful pets to have and can live for over ten years. You had better just watch out for your house!

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                                03.11.2000 05:47
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                                Last year a friend who was moving to the City asked me if I would take her Ranch Chinchillas. Her new landlord wouldn't let her keep pets in her new flat. We have kept Chinchillas in the past, and I like them, so I replied yes we would give them a home. After all, we already have a horse, and six guinea pigs, so three more pets wouldn't make much difference. So Sam (white male), Lucky (grey female) and their baby Beau (beige male) arrived, complete with cages. About 6 weeks later, I received a phone call from a young man, who had heard that 'I take in Chinchillas'. Hence, Chica, a 2-year-old beige female arrived. And one year later we now have eleven.... two white, two grey and the rest ranging from cream to beige. We decided we needed some new cages. Although I am sure they are adequate, I do not like the commercially made wire cages. So we built 4 cages; each cage is 3ft wide by 3ft deep and 4ft high and made from wood and half x one inch wire, with the wire on the inside to prevent chewing. A door on the front opens outwards. We also made individual sleeping compartments for each cage. The cages are furnished with branches and logs, which give them plenty of exercise. As they like to chew, we provide them with small pieces of wood. We put wood shavings on the floor. We made the cages this size so that we can sit inside with them. They are nocturnal animals and are active from the early evening. They run and climb all over us, chew shoe laces, nibble our ears, sit on our shoulders. They have soon become very tame. They have fresh drinking water and a sand bath every day. I buy a 15kg bag of Chinchilla food from a local animal feed merchant, which provides them with a complete and balanced diet. They also enjoy raisins, and small pieces of apple, carrot etc. We give dry, uncooked breakfast oatmeal as a special treat. We have also made hay racks for each cage. <br>Chinchillas originate from the Andes Mountains in South America and in the wild live up to 10 years. In captivity, they can live up to 20 years of age. They have luxurious fur and at one time they were bred extensively in Chinchilla farms for their pelts. However, there is absolutely no way our Chins are ever becoming part of a fur coat!!!!! They are quite gentle by nature and rarely bite, although they can give a playful nip. A Chin cannot be allowed to roan freely in the house as it will head for the furniture or the electric wiring. Chinchillas like to have the same partner for life. The female becomes sexually mature at approx. 8 months old. They will not breed unless the female feels secure in her surroundings. The gestation period is 16 weeks and both parents can be left quite safely with the newborn babies. The babies are usually weaned at 2 months of age and after a further 2 weeks can be removed from the parents. They make intelligent and inquisitive pets, with gentle handling they soon become tame. ~ Update 25.2.01 ~ Hooray we are parents again!!!!! Chica had two babies this morning - one grey and one beige baby. Mother and babies doing fine.

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                                  30.08.2000 06:29
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                                  My Willy escaped and naughtily went beyond the boundaries of acceptable behaviour,luckily his antics were discovered before he caused a house fire, just how did it happen? 'Willy' my favourite and much loved chinchilla has an endearing character but likes to investigate and explore at his leisure, we are happy for him to play, run, sit on our heads etc! when supervised but unfortunately last night he managed to escape from his cage to cause what could have been a very dangerous fire in our home. My ten year old daughter came running into our room at four o'clock this morning shouting "I've seen a flame in my room and I can hear sparking" we immediately investigated to find several badly frayed electric cables, one of which was for my little girl's night light. Willy had managed to chew through the cable and some of the wire. Looking around the room my husband found him sitting on his back legs very quietly in the corner - he had obviously given himself a nasty electric shock, but after some gentle nursing (no, not strangling and cursing!) he went back to his wife Suzanne in their cage (she sniffed him for some time) The cage is now fitted with a new locking devise as we do not want a repeat performance! But the chinchillas can be a delightful pet you just need to be prepared and keep a watch to avoid this and other things Willy has done: 2. Managed to remove the lid and fall feet first in a pot of Dulux paint (water-based fortunately) and looked a sorry sight - I did maanage to wash and dry him ok though. 3. Chewed and ate both plaster and wallpaper from a newly decorated room in our home. 4. Eaten one of my favourite Kickers shoes and nibbled through the handle of my new handbag. (He definitely has a leather fetish) 5. Chewed a hole in the back of the sofa, tipped out the stuffing and escaped inside, refusing to come out! 6. Developed a new habit of eating
                                  through the rubber plants of my indoor arrangement. 7. Pooing in my husband's shoes. I could go on as he is a little devil at times but on a serious level chinchillas can make good pets,and are becoming more popular as time goes by. Chinchillas originate from the Andes mountains and are members of the rodent family but their luxuriant beautiful fur makes them destinctive and appealing. They are nocturnal animals whom sleep for most of the day and become quite active during the evening and night.(As we found out!!) These creatures are keen on cleanliness liking to bathe daily(dust not water!) and they follow a simple diet of pellets, hay and fresh water with the occasional inclusion of raisins, monkey nuts etc. Contrary to popular opinion chinchillas are not prone to biting people(or children) and if handled from birth are usually happy to launch themselves at you and enjoy their ears being tickled, playful and somewhat mischevous they are, as you have probably gathered very happy chewing nearly anything in sight.I put apple tree branches, gnawing block and some down-piping in their cage to keep them amused. Suzanne was my first chinchilla she has white fur and pink eyes I coupled her with Willy a month later (grey fur & dark eyes) they have been happy together ever since (two years now)and have recently had their third litter (quads)Billy helps with the delivery helping to clean the babies and keep them warm etc.and of course cuddles Suzanne.Chinchillas feed their baby chins for six to eight weeks.... The life span of this pet can be more than twenty years particularly if kept in pairs and their dangerous chewing habits are curtailed - but overall I consider them a good investment in terms of time and money.

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