CHINCHILLAS by Carolyn
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from experience and observation
In the wild,
chinchillas live in herds of 100+ so it's understandable that they love
When kept in pairs or groups, they spend a lot of their time grooming
each other as well as themselves, they also have several different
'calls' that they make - some are 'warning' calls and 'don't come near
me' sounds, along with various noises of 'communication' to each other,
and of course, mother's with their kits and their own identifiable
breeding is required, the pair should be introduced to one another no
earlier than 8-9 months of age. if you introduce them before this age,
the female could become pregnant which would be detrimental to her
health and cause a lot of stress. it may also prove to be a very
difficult birth for such a young animal.
If you already
have a chinchilla and would like to purchase a companion for it, there
are a few things that you should think about first.
should never breed 2 Black Velvets, 2 brown velvets or 2 White
chinchillas together - they carry a lethal gene
have a spare cage for the new chinchilla(s)?
purchase a chinchilla which is around the same age as your
original one, never put a female below 8-9 months in with a
first tip for introducing the chinchillas is to push their two cages
together. Place the cages
about 2” apart, so that the chins can see and smell one another, but
cannot bite each other’s toes. Sometimes,
one of the chins will bang on the cage mesh, obviously very annoyed that
a stranger is in its vicinity, but hopefully within a few days this
should stop and they should be able to tolerate each other
cages are close together for introducing, around 2" or
so, these cage doors are only open just to show you a clear
photo - by no means try to introduce them 'in the flesh'
until you are quite certain they will not fight with each
Once they begin
to lose the urge to spit or show any aggression to one another, the
chinchillas can be introduced. I
find that the best place to do this is on a carpet in a small room.
I use my kitchen or hallway.
I place a sand bath in the middle of the room and ask someone
else to come into the room with me – just in case we have to separate
the pair! Sometimes,
everything goes smoothly and the chinchillas tend to become friends
almost immediately, but on other occasions the female will rear up and
spray the male with urine and take several chunks of fur out of his
coat! If things become a
little ‘nasty’ separate the chinchillas and try again a few days
later. Unfortunately, there
are a few chinchillas that will never accept a mate.
also be introduced to one another in a cage, but the cage should be one
that neither of them has lived in – or claimed territorial rights
over. Once confined
to a cage the hostility may be more severe than out on mutual territory
– like the carpet! Lots
of boxes, tubes etc should be available, in case one of the chinchillas
feels the need to escape from the other one.
During the first few minutes the chinchillas may be so busy
exploring the new cage that they may not feel the need to bicker or fall
out. But keep watching and
never leave them alone.
photos here are a little blurred - this was the VERY FIRST
time that Kooky (Violet) was introduced to Tino (Ebony)
Kooky is not pleased to be in with Tino for the first time
little nibble at your ear please?"
Mutual friendship? just keep an eye on them!
breeders put the pair of chinchillas into a very tiny cage.
This mesh cage is so small and low that the chinchillas cannot
really move about – or chase one another!
After several hours the chinchillas are let out into a larger
cage and seem to be friends. I
am not sure whether I like this idea – but I know a breeder who does
this and things tend to go well for him.
For the small
show cage - ring Steve on 01592 571038 - prices at £7.00 each
around 10" square and is most commonly used as a 'carry'
cage for shows
WARNING: be absolutely sure chinchillas are not very
aggressive in nature for this type of introduction!
Note the piece of wood in between - that's to stop them from
biting each other - if they are in a very confined space -
they will not bite in most cases - chinchillas go in the
(note the chin at the back is not amused!)
'not very happy' chinchillas
In general, it takes a very quick time like this before they
accept each other - only put them in for 10 minutes at first,
15minutes 2nd day, 20-30 third day - they should be compatible in a larger cage - do not
leave them in longer than 1 hour at a time - it is unfair to
the chinchilla in such confined arrangements
(Kooky and Gemma are good friends now)
In the wild a
female chinchilla would be able to run from a male if she did not feel
ready to mate. But if the
pair is to be introduced in a cage – things can turn a little nasty.
If the pair do not get along on the first introduction, then it
is best to separate them, leave their cages side by side and try them
again a week or so later.
would recommend that you purchase two young chinchillas.
If they are of opposite sexes they can be housed separately but
kept side by side until the female is 8-9 months.
They can come out and run around together during their daily free
run, but make sure that someone watches them at all times
It only takes a minute!
If you do not wish to breed your chinchillas it may be a good idea for
you to purchase two young sisters, two young brothers, a Mum and
daughter or a Father and son. They
will not have to go through the ‘introductory ordeal’ and should get
along very well. The only
problem that may arise is if you bring a female into your home once the
two males have reached sexual maturity.
They may bicker/fight when they can smell the female in season
and things can become very serious.
If a pair of
chinchillas have been living happily together for several months/years,
problems can still arise if they are separated for any reason. on June
19th 1998 my first pair of standard grey chinchillas gave birth to a
daughter. As the weeks went by, I realised that they had mated again as
Rosie was expanding rapidly. I decided that I had to get basil castrated
as I couldn't face the idea of re-homing babies to people that I did not
know (after a while you run out of family and friend who want your baby
chinchillas!) I booked Basil in with a very good Vet in my area and the
operation went well.
The following day I put basil back into the cage with Rosie and was not
prepared for what happened next! Rosie f;ew at poor basil, bit mouthfuls
of his fur out, sprayed him with urine and was obviously not happy to
see him. I can only assume that he came home from the surgery smelling
'different'. it was either this or the fact that Rosie was expecting
again, so it could of been her hormones! I tried several ways of getting
the pair back together but everything failed. Rosie was just not
interested. I could not believe how horrible she was to poor basil, when
only a few days earlier they were the best of friends and inseperable>
I had to wait until the next kits were born and weaned before trying to
put Rosie and basil together again
(one male and one female were born on October 9th 1998)
It took a few days, but
Rosie was less aggressive and eventually she let Basil stay with her
without pulling his fur out! It
was lovely to come down one morning and see them cuddled up together
again. I always tell people
to take the female along to the Vet when the male is being castrated now
…. In the hope that this problem may be avoided.
If the female has the smell of the surgery too – she often does
not attack the male when they are returned to their own cage at home.
My Vet only separates the pair for the operation and will return
the male to the female as soon as 'he' has come around from the
anaesthetic. Although there
is always a risk with a small animal having an anaesthetic, I think that
castration is well worth it. The
majority of castrations are a success and the pair can live the rest of
their lives together without bringing many babies into this world.
Think about it – it may be the best thing to do.
It is generally known that female chinchillas like many
rodent, will come into 'heat' again within 24 hours of giving
birth - keep in mind that a nursing mum who is once again
pregnant can find it hard work
Although breed-back is natural in the wild, it is recommended
that if you do not want mum to have more kit's straight away,
the father must be removed and kept in a next door cage - he
can always play with mum and kits at playtime - and even go
back into her cage when mum is not on heat