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So often many people always think of buying their pet as a baby, but buying a chinchilla as an adult can be a truly rewarding experience as well. With an adult, the personality is established and there are no unknowns. With a baby, you are still not sure how sweet it will be as it matures. Many sweetest, most loving chinchillas have been purchased as adults.
In the wild, chinchilla's usually live in clans of about 100 individuals. So, if you can, don’t leave one alone. Chinchillas tend to do well in pairs. A single chinchilla can get lonely and often enjoys a friend to snuggle alongside. If you do not want to breed chinchillas, it is usually recommended putting two females together. If two females are introduced at a young age, they can usually get along well for life. The same may apply to two older females depending on the personalities. Or you can introduce an older female and a baby female as the mothering instinct often takes over. Unless two males are littermates, it is not usually recommended keeping two males together. If you put two older males together, they tend to be more aggressive toward each other and this can even prove fatal.
When considering pairing two chinchillas, it is advisable to begin an introduction period (sometimes a few days to a few weeks) by placing each chinchilla in a separate cage side by side. They become familiar with each other’s smell and may be more accepting of each other later. When you are ready to put the two chinchillas together, be sure to put them together in a neutral cage (not having been used by either chinchilla previously or else well cleaned and sanitized). Chinchillas can become very territorial and reject or injure a new cage occupant. When putting chinchillas together, watch them closely and don’t leave the room. They will first explore the cage and then each other. If aggressive fighting occurs, separate the pair immediately. Put them back in their own cages and try re-introducing them again in another week or so. If the same fighting continues on the next introduction, you might want to try them together in a very tiny cage where there is little room for movement. You might also want to take them on a car ride as they often bond under stress. But, bear in mind, it is possible that they will not get along and you will not be able to pair them. However, they might co-exist very happily next to each other in separate cages.
If you choose a male and female, please consider this carefully. Female chinchillas can become pregnant as young as 5-1/2 months old. Male chinchillas can begin impregnating females when as young as 4 months. A female chinchilla SHOULD NOT BREED UNTIL SHE HAS REACHED MATURITY AT ONE YEAR OLD. Too often people buy a male and female chinchilla as babies and keep them together. Then the female may begin producing babies at 8 to 9 months old. More often, these babies are small and a poorer quality chinchilla because the mother was not mature. Sometimes the mother (because it is so young) cannot deliver the kit(s) and dies a painful death. It is always best if you are planning to breed, to breed the best, healthiest chinchillas you can.
Chinchilla do have babies and will multiply. A female chinchilla can have up to 3 litters per year. There can be 1 or 4 kits per litter. If you are not prepared to care for the babies or do not have good homes lined up for them, please do not buy a breeding pair. A chinchilla female can breed again with a male right after she has littered if they are not separated. This is not good for the female. Many times the babies die because of insufficient care or they end up in pet stores or animal shelters where staffers do not know how to care for them properly.
If you think that a chinchilla is the right pet for you, you must decide how many and which animals you should have: Should it be a male or a female or maybe one of each? And what about the colour: Grey, white, black, beige or something even more "exotic"?
If you want to have more than one chinchilla it's best to buy them at the same time, while they are young, since it may become problematic to put two adult chinchillas together.
And remember if you buy a pair, that you want to breed, that they should not be too closely related. Also breeding two whites or two velvets is by some considered to be a "no-go" due to the lethal factor.
Learn all you can about chinchillas and their care: read books, visit websites, and talk to breeders. Get the cage and other supplies set up and ready before you bring your chin home. Visit breeders and pet shops and see what is available in your area in the way of prices and chin selection. Once you have found a reliable source, it is time to pick out your chin. Be sure you are ready to handle the responsibility of having the chinchilla. Do not rush into buying one.
[see also the Pet for you? page]
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There are a lot of places where you can buy your chinchilla. When choosing where to buy it, I would advise only buying from a reputable breeder, as pet shops and independent rescue centres often do not have the background of the animal, know the correct age or even tell you the truth and right advice about the chin in question. As with most reputable breeders you should receive a full and comprehensive pedigree (basically a family tree).
These are the places where you can buy your chinchilla:
The best thing is probably to buy the chinchilla from a hobby breeder. Usually they have more animals to choose from. Also the breeder has more experience keeping chinchillas and is probably more interested in securing the best conditions for their youngsters than the pet store owner. Here you can normally get chins at the age of 10 - 12 weeks, because most hobby breeders don’t give away their babies at a younger age to strengthen their resistance. At the hobby breeder there it is guaranteed that the chins are used to people, because it’s growing up in the family. From hobby breeders you normally get the chins against a protection contract and a small protection fee. In opposition to the pet shop you normally get at the breeder a lot of tips and tricks for the chinchilla care, because they have more experience with these animals. Chinchilla breeders will often have chins that are pets of quality for sale.
At the professional breeders you also have the possibility to buy young ones, but often it is very difficult to find out where the next commercial breeder lives. Many commercial breeders are making skins and so they do not make their business official to avoid militant protectors of animals from attacking them. Nowadays there are many commercial breeders which only breed chinchillas as pets and many of them you can find in the internet and get in contact with them.
For the purpose of breeding chinchillas, it would be better to get one from a breeder. The quality of the chinchillas is the major component to consider when it comes to breeding. If there is no local breeder, then the pet store is the only choice. Shipping a chinchilla from overseas is not always viable option as the journey may cause death.
Perhaps you've already fallen in love with a specific little fur ball at the local pet store? Any way it's a good idea - especially for the first time buyer - to choose a pet store that knows a lot about chinchillas and that can/will guide you in the beginning. Some pet stores sell them, but make sure they are well cared-for, healthy and friendly. What is important here will be that the pet store is reliable and that the chinchilla you are getting is healthy. Make sure that the pet stores give you individual advice and tips about owning a chinchilla. Always remember to enquire about the breeding sources and background history of the animal from pet store. This will also help to eliminate the genetic related problems when you intend to breed the animal as well as avoiding yourself from mating the animal with a related chinchilla. When getting a chinchilla from the pet store, be sure to ask how long has the animal been in the store and ask for a contingency to return the animal if it does not pass a medical check-up from the vet or your money back.
Young chinchillas are normally offered at the age of 8 - 10 weeks. Most of them are from hobby breeders but also from commercial breeders or traders. The prices are quite expensive, because the pet shop owner has to buy the chins from the breeder and wants to gain money out of the trade.
Maybe you know someone who has to sell his chinchilla for some reason. Or you've read an add at the vets or in the newspaper... One can easily buy a chinchilla from the former owner. It may even be both easiest and cheapest to buy such a "ready-to-install" chinchilla with cage, house, hay, food, water bottle, dust bath, etc. So, if you don't mind having a "second-hand" chinchilla, it could be worth checking out the possibilities.
No matter where you choose to buy your chinchilla, you should be aware of how the chinchilla is being treated. Be sure that the chinchilla is been treated well and that it is healthy, secure and confident. If your chinchilla has had bad experiences with humans, it may become extremely difficult - or even impossible - to gain its trust.
In order to check if the animal is in good condition, go the pet stores or breeders in the evening, when the animals are most active and lively. Generally you should look very carefully at the chinchilla’s circumstances of living. Observe the chinchilla inside and outside its cage.
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You need to give the chins plenty of time to adjust. When approaching them for the first time, be sure to move slowly and talk quietly as not to frighten them. After the door to the cage is opened, let the chin have a few minutes to sniff and "nibble" at your fingers. "Nibbling” is their way of showing affection. The best way to catch one is to use both hands and place one hand under their body and pick them up by the tail with the free hand. (personally I don't like this idea, and choose to pick up them with both hands around their body) You should never grab them by their fur, as they have a mechanism that gives them the ability to release fur if caught. A gentle animal or a good pet will not cry to struggle to get free. If scratched under the chin or behind the ears they may possibly make right up to a stranger.
Before you make the buy from a breeder or pet store, be sure to get a contingency statement that the chinchilla will pass a vet check. Then take your chinchilla to a good veterinarian and have it checked for heart murmurs, and have the stool checked under the microscope [as a wet mount] for Giardia and other parasites. Sometimes a seemingly healthy chinchilla will have Giardia, and the move will cause symptoms to flare up.
When you get the pet, get home immediately and avoid any long route or detour. This will reduce the discomfort or stress from the journey.
Avoid changing the environment and food constantly. Stress can cause chinchillas to fall sick easily as they become more susceptible to bacterial.
Use the same food as the pet stores or breeders. If you intend to change to other food, feed the chinchilla the existing food for at least 2 weeks before introducing new food slowly.
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