If you are thinking of adopting a chinchilla from us, there are a few things you should consider first:
Can I provide a safe, quiet place for the chinchilla?
Chinchillas are not fond of loud noises and a lot of action, as they usually sleep during the day and get stressed if not provided with some quiet and privacy. Barking dogs, screaming birds and loud children are fine - if your chinchilla is in a separate area like a spare bedroom with the door shut, or a finished basement. Dogs should never be permitted near your chin. Although it may be a gentle dog, the chin doesn't know that and may panic or get stressed.
Air conditioning is a must for warm months.
We have heard way too many horror stories of heat stroke and death in situations where there was no adequate cooling system present. Fans just blow warm air around. There should be a functional air conditioner in the area your chinchilla is being kept. At no time should the temperature reach over 80º F, or it could be fatal to your chinchilla.
Am I prepared to give a loving home to an animal that may live 15-20 years?
Chinchillas are adorable and fun, and very endearing. But life goes on, and people move away or lose jobs or go away to school, and the little guys get pushed aside and forgotten. Of course they can’t be the center of attention every day, but you should be able to provide a clean cage, food and enrichment for the chinchilla no matter what happens.
Veterinary care is a very important aspect of owning a chinchilla.
Most of them are very hardy, but some are prone to dental disease, seizure disordersand heart murmurs that will need to be monitored. It is important to have your chinchilla examined at least once a year by a chinchilla-savvy vet. Most dog and cat vets are not able to provide the level of care a chinchilla needs, nor are they familiar with the proper drugs or doses they use. Exotic vets are typically more expensive for the appointment than a dog and cat vet, with the appointment fee being $50-$100, depending on the doctor. Other prices are comparable, for example blood work, radiographs and medication. Go to a chinchilla savvy vet the first time, and you will save money in the long run. Chin Friends will provide you with a list of vets that are good choices, but beware of doctors not on our list. They may say that they see chinchillas, but it doesn't mean they know what they are doing.
Cage space is very important.
While we understand not everyone can afford, or have the space for a giant, multi level cage, your chinchilla should at least have a basic multi-level ferret cage or converted cat cage. These can be purchased online much cheaper than in most pet stores. The ferret nation and critter nation are good choices. Your chinchilla should also have a wheel in the cage… NOT a wire wheel! They are VERY dangerous, and we have had some 3 legged chins pass through our care due to wire-wheel accidents. A solid metal wheel is fine (no plastic, they break!), but even better is the "chinchilla flying saucer" (see above), which can be purchased online as well. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s the best available! Some chinchillas may come with a cage, but most will not. It is up to the adopter to provide a proper cage. Sometimes Chin Friends can provide a refurbished cage for a small donation.
March 19th Shmee is going home with a great adopter!