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SA Chinchillas

Beautiful Top quality healthy Chinchillas In South Africa

Chinchilla Care

Care

Information

Housing

Cages

Chinchillas need to be housed in a wire cage with openings no larger than 2.5cm x 5cm that is well ventilated. If you are getting a young chinchilla or planning on having babies the spacing should be around 1.25cm x 2.5cm.Chinchillas love to chew so be careful when using a cage made of wood or plastic.

Never putt your chinchilla in an aquarium there is not enough fresh and clean air and your chinchilla could get really sic, overheat and this will lead to death.

When using a wire floor cage make sure that the wire spacing is 1.25 x 1.25 as their feet could stuck in wider spacings. Use teff (mountain hay) or pine shavings as a covering for the floor, they will also eat the teff.

A chinchilla cage should be big enough for them to run and play in and have atleast 2 shelves (ledges) for jumping. Chinchillas have allot of energy and if your chinchilla can’t run and play they could get sick with no bowl movement and this could lead to serious emergencies.

Your chinchilla needs regular playtime outside the cage, please always make sure that there is no wires, poison or harmful object around.

Remember the bigger the cage the better. A good size cage is 1m x 800x 500-600mm

If you only have 1 or 2 chinchillas you can change the bedding once a week and make sure to wipe the cage clean. You could try and potty train your chinchilla as they tend to find one spot in cage and urinate there. Take a bowl and place some shavings in it and place on the spot of urinating. This does work most of the time. Remember your chinchilla will leave poop droppings everywhere. I call them little poop machines.

Important points to keep in mind :

- No plastic that they can chew through easily

- No wood except for Solid untreated pine and sekelbush (keep in mind that this is dry wood)

- I prefer the bottle type water type bottles that cling to the outside of a cage. With babies in mind they do work better as a baby can easily drown in bowl of water, or get wet and die of cold

- A food tray made of steel that screws to the cage wire works perfectly , if you use a dish your chinchilla could use it for a bathroom

- An extra dish or bowl can be used for Lusern and teff

- Water bottles and food dishes and bowls should be washed with soap and rinsed very well, every time you refill them to avoid bacteria growth.

- You can build your own pine ( when pine is used remember untreated solid dry) toys and hang them for your chinchilla to chew on.

- Sekelbush toys can be found at most pet stores they will have a label to say safe for chinchillas.

- Chinchillas love a hiding spot to sleep in, a pine house oreven soft bed can be used.

- You can also use pvc pipe as a toy ( please keep in mind to remove all plastic or rubber)

- Chinchillas love exercise so a large chinchilla safe wheel will keep them happy for hours. I suggest hanging the wheel from the Top of the cage so that the scissor effect will be at the top of the wheel and the bottom of the wheel (where the chin will be entering and exiting) will be clear.

- Shelving or ledges can also be made from pine, please check them and change them when the time comes

- You can place a clean tile in cage for cooling down or even a marble slab which will keep them cooler for longer

Cage Location

Keep in mind that you do not place your cage in direct sunlight in droughty rooms or even a droughty area. The room should always be nice cool temperature. Because of their thick fur they can overheat easily and if heat stroke is found to late it could be deadly. Make sure there is no electrical wires near the cage, no poison, nothing that they could reach through the cage wires.

Keep your chinchilla away from lead based paint this could kill them.

Room temperature and Heat

The humidity in a room plays a huge part in what temperatures a chinchilla will be the most comfortable. Areas with higher humidity will need to keep the chinchilla room cooler then areas of low humidity. A good rule of thumb is to add the humidity and the temperature together .Keep the room about 27 -28 centigrade

CARE

Bathing & Grooming

Chinchillas have very dense fur with a lot of lanolin. They require a special dust bath a few times a week. Use a dish that is large enough for your chinchilla to roll in. Pour about an 2.5 cm of dust in the dish and place it inside the cage. Your chinchilla will jump in and have a wonderful time. Only leave the dust in the cage for about 15 minutes. Always use chinchilla dust. Never put your chin in real sand. The dust can be reused for about a week or until it begins to look clumpy. Scoop out all of the pellets before you store it away for the next use. If your chinchilla urinates in the dust you can not reuse it. If you are breeding your chinchillas, wait 10 days after a birth to give mother and babies a bath. When mom gets hers let the babies bathe too. If you have more than one cage of chinchillas, each should have their own container. Using the same dust for multiple cages is a good way to pass on a sickness. Do not wash a chinchilla with water. If you do happen to get your chin wet roll him up in a towel immediately and keep him warm.

Feeding

A chinchilla's main diet is made up of Chinchilla pellets, teff and lusern. We recommend Mini Magic Chinchilla Food. Stay away from the food that contains fruit. Do not give your chinchilla gerbil or other rodent food as a main diet. Find one kind of pellet and stick to it. Chinchillas have very delicate digestive systems so changing their diet too drastically can cause sickness and even death. We keep our chinchilla feed dishes full. There is no need to measure their feed since they will only eat when they get hungry. However, if you have a chinchilla that becomes fat or has soft, sticky pellets you will need to cut back on the feed. Give your chinchilla unlimited access to timothy (teff –mountain hay) or (lusern) alfalfa hay. We recommend a mixture of the two since each has different nutritional values. Both can be bought in almost any pet store either as loose hay in a bag. This is given ALONG with the pellets.

Chinchillas love to get treats; however, you can only give a small amount a day. An adult chin may have 1 dried cranberry a week, or Goji Berries could be given 1-2 a day.

If your chinchilla becomes fat or develops diarrhea (soft, sticky pellets) you need to cut back on the treats. For diarrhea you may need to stop treats all together for awhile.

HOW TO SEX YOUR CHINCHILLA

The sex of a chinchilla can be determined by the size of the space between the anus and the genitals. You can tell the sex of a chinchilla from the moment it is born. The male chinchilla. You can see that if you lift the penis there is an obvious space between it and the anus. The female chinchilla. You can see that the two are side by side with no spacebetween.

INTERACTION

One Chin or Two? How much time you have should be a big factor in deciding how many chinchillas to get. If you are able to spend some quality time with your chin each night, than a single chinchilla will do just fine. If you travel a lot or are very busy it may be better for you to get two. Chinchillas do very well in pairs. They can handle stress better together. Two males can be successfully housed together if they are introduced slowly. Females can also be housed together but sometimes it is a bit harder if they are not litter mates. I have found that in pairs, the outgoing one tends to help tame the shy one. If you already have a friendly chinchilla you won't have to worry about it bonding to a new chin and no longer accepting you.

Introducing the New Chinchilla

Usually a new chinchilla placed into the cage with your other one without a proper introduction period will not get accepted. In fact, chinchillas can fight to the death if they are put together too fast. When you get a new chin it is best to introduce him slowly over time. Some matches take a bit longer than others but with a bit of patience and a few techniques, pairing them up is possible. These techniques should be used for same sex pairs as well as for male/female pairs. Many pairs will go together only using the first step, but sometimes all of them will be needed:

1. Place their cages side by side for a week so they can meet through the cage bars. Once they seem OK with one another place them in the same cage.

**Make sure you do this on a day when you can be there for a long while to watch for fighting. If they fight you will have to separate them and try again later. If you are introducing a male to a female be sure to place the female into the male's cage NOT the other way around.

2. If the above doesn't work, place the chinchillas in each other's cage for about half an hour. Make sure you leave the original bedding and houses, etc. This way they can get used to each other's scent.

3. At the end of one of the above methods place the two chinchillas in a brand new cage with new bedding that doesn't have the smell of either animal. Neither one will have the "home turf" advantage.

How to Pick Up or Catch a Chinchilla

It is best to leave your chinchilla inside his cage until you have gained his trust (see below). Once you have become friends it should be easy to get him to walk out onto your arm and then you can cuddle him from there and take him where you need to go. If your chinchilla is not to this point and you must get him out of his cage, place both hands inside. With one hand on the right side and one hand on the left, try to sweep your chinchilla towards your body and cuddle him close to you. This is the least stressful way to catch him. If your chinchilla is loose in the house it is best to corner him in a small space. Get down on your knees and then scoop him up just as you would in his cage. If your chinchilla has hidden himself under or behind furniture try shaking his dust bath around and then placing it on the floor. Once he has jumped in you can place them both inside the cage. This is a good time to talk about training your chinchilla. It is a good idea to rattle the Cranberry packet before you give your chinchilla a treat, or say a certain word before you give the dust bath. Once your chinchilla has learned to associate a sound with its favorite treat or bath it can be very helpful in luring him out from behind the tv or under the couch.

Things to Remember:

· Never grab a chinchilla by the tip of his tail. If you must hold him still (i.e. for a health check) you can hold his tail right at the base where his tail meets his body. Make sure he is standing on his feet.

· Never try to catch a chinchilla by grabbing at him. You will end up with a hand full of fur and your chinchilla will still get away. (However if this happens don't worry. It didn't hurt him and the hair will grow back.)

How to Make Friends with Your Chinchilla

When you first bring your new friend home give him some space to get used to the new environment. Expect your chinchilla to be a little afraid. Remember that he has traveled in a strange car, entered a new house, and a new cage. Even the tamest chinchilla can be withdrawn and frightened at first. Here is what I suggest for getting a new chinchilla to be your friend. This is by no means the only way to make friends with your new chinchilla. This is what I have found works best for me.

Step #1-Get him to show interest in you. The first step in making friends with your new chinchilla is to let it know that you are no threat. Open the cage door and place your hand just inside of the cage. If your chinchilla is afraid it will usually run and hide in the back corner of the cage. If it hides inside a box and will not come out then slowly remove the box so that your chin will have to look at you. Now just sit tight. If you are lucky enough to have a very curious chin then it will slowly start creeping up to you. If after awhile it has no interest in you at all you will have to try thecranberry.

Baiting with A Cranberry (Note: A chinchilla should only have one cranberry a week) If your chinchilla has never had a cranberry then you must first teach it what one is. Try to feed your chinchilla through the bars of the cage. If it won’t take it at first then you may have to place it inside the cage and give your chinchilla some room. Once he learns how great they are he will soon begin taking them from your hand through the bars. Once he has mastered bar feeding it is time to open the door. With any luck your chin will take the cranberry from your open palm. This is what you want to achieve. You want your chinchilla to be comfortable with your hands and arms.

Step #2-Building Trust Once your chinchilla decides that you are interesting he will begin to come forward. If he startles and runs to the back again, don't move. Your chinchilla will soon learn that you are not going to chase it. Then the fun begins. He will creep forward and run to the back. Take a few steps closer and once again take off. Finally he will sniff your hand. He may even give you a little taste. If he begins to linger in the rear of the cage or becomes agitated end the "lesson" there and try again later. Once he is comfortable standing or holding on to your hand you have gained some trust.

Step #3 Petting Almost all of my chinchillas love to be scratched behind the ears, under the chin, and just under their front legs on their bellies. The trick is to get them to let you do it. Once they have become very comfortable with your presence it is time to begin petting. I place my hand just inside the cage with index finger ready. It is easier to start on top of the head and work your way behind the ear. (Their whiskers are ticklish) The way I see it is if they come to me they are fair game, but I respect their space. When they come to my hand I try to rub their head. The less you move your hand the better. At first he will take off to the back of the cage. Soon he comes right back and you do it again. If he gets upset and won't come back to your hand wait a few days before you try to rub him again. The idea is to gain trust, not loose it. I do have a few chins that are just too ticklish. The moment you touch them they shake and rub their heads. Those may not ever become pettable, but they still love to climb on you! Those chins that learn to love petting will close their eyes, lift their legs, and get so relaxed that they practically fall over!

***All chinchillas are different. Some may follow this example perfectly and others will be painfully slow. Some may love petting from the start. I wrote this to give some ideas as to how gaining trust might be done. What works for me may not work for you. When it comes to you and your animal, you will have to find what is right for you. As with any animal, patience and love are always the best tools!

 

BREEDING BASICS

Breeding Age

Chinchillas are capable of breeding as early as 3 months of age, but females should NOT be bred until they are at least 8 months old. If a chinchilla is bred too early she may not be large enough to safely deliver the babies. For this reason, keep females away from males until they are the correct breeding age. Sons should be removed their Mothers by 3 months of age to prevent inbreeding.

Pregnancy and Delivery

Females are pregnant for about 111 days and can have anywhere from 1-6 babies (called kits). It is very hard to tell if a female is pregnant until she is within a week or two of delivering. You may notice that she is getting fatter, and if you weigh her regularly you will notice a weight gain. During the last weeks of pregnancy, her nipples will begin to get very long to allow the new babies get to find them in all that fur. This is a sure sign that delivery isn't far away. To prepare for the birth, make sure the cage is out of drafts and give Mom a box to have her babies in. (Pine wood, etc.) If you have a wire bottom cage it may be a good idea to cover the cage floor with newspaper so the babies won't be chilled. Mom can birth all by herself. Chances are you won't even know when she is in labor. If you do happen to catch the miracle don't interfere. Stay back from the cage so she will feel comfortable. Mother will bend down and pull the babies out with her teeth. Siblings can be born as much as 45 minutes apart or more. It is possible that mom could accidentally bite off a toe, a piece of ear, and in a breech birth part of the tail. Don't get upset about it, it's more common than you might think. Just put pressure on the wound if it is bleeding badly, and then give the baby back to Mom. Keep an eye on the area for infection.

NEW BABIES ~NOW WHAT??

What about Dad? This calls for a lot of thought on your part. Usually the dad will help Mom care for the babies and keep them warm while she delivers the rest. However, there are some things to consider. Mom will go back into heat right away after the delivery. In fact, some males will try to mate while Mom is in labor. These males will have to be removed! If you choose to leave your family together, you must place a small can, box, or bottle in the cage just large enough for the babies to fit in. If the babies don’t have a place to hide the will get smashed during the mating. It is very likely that a baby will be killed if it is not protected during mating. If the father is left in the cage you can count on Mom getting pregnant while she is nursing the little ones. This can put a lot of strain on her. Make sure you watch her teeth for signs of whitening. If they appear to be loosing their yelloworange color give her enough lusern with calcium each day. One last thing to consider is that there is a chance the male may go after a female baby if the mother refuses to let him mate her. There have been cases of female kits being killed due to this problem. For these reasons, I always recommend removing the male when the mother delivers and leaving them apart until the mother is through nursing (no sooner than 7-8 weeks). When you return Dad you will have to treat it just like introducing a brand new chinchilla. (see that topic above) All female babies will then need to be removed. All male babies should leave Mom by 3 months of age to prevent them from trying to breed back to her.

Dust Bath

Mom shouldn't have a dust bath for 10 days after deliver. This is to give her body time to heal from the delivery. It also gives the new babies time to develop. A newborn shouldn’t be breathing in all of the dust and they may not have enough coordination to keep the dust out of their eyes. After the 10 day wait let babies and Mom take the bath together. She will show them how it is done.

Wheels

Remove any wheels from the cage when there are babies. They are just too dangerous for the little ones. Standing wheels with spokes shouldn’t be put back into a cage with babies. Open sided wheels that attach to the side of the cage can be returned when the babies are between one and two months old.

Handling

By all means handle those babies! Who could resist? Wait at least a day or two after birth to give Mom a chance to get used to parenting. Then only hold them for a short time at first. Mom knows her babies, so don't be afraid to hug them, kiss them, and cuddle them up. She will happily accept them when you put them back in the cage.

Babies Are Crying~Is Mom Hurting Them? Like all babies, these little guys will fuss when its time for grooming. Don't be concerned to see Mom nibbling on their faces and bottoms, usually with babies fussing and crying

Running Wheels

We recommend that you only start using a running wheel at ages 5 months and above, due to babies burning of to much calories which they need to grow.