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Chinchilla Care - First Time Purchasing a Chin?

If you are new to chinchillas, and have never owned one before, there are lots of things to think about before purchasing one. If you are wanting to purchase only one, and do not know whether to buy a male or female, in most cases the best to purchase is a male. If you want two or more, you can put same sex pairs together with no problems. Not all the time but some chinchillas will be okay with it. However make sure that there are no females around that go into heat, if you have two males living together. This will cause them to fight otherwise. Same sex pairs however can and will fight. Please make proper introductions with your chins before allowing them to live together. Females can also fight with other males or females as well, not often but sometimes.

Age factors also need to be taken into consideration. Are you wanting to breed your chin? Or just have it as a pet only? If you are wanting to breed your chin, it is best to get a chinchilla as a pet first. Then find a breeder local to you, that can help you with researching and learning more about breeding before you attempt it. If your only reason to breed is for cute babies - please don't breed. All those cute babies grow up one day and sadly some of them are now sitting local animal shelters or in foster homes with no real place to call home. If you plan to breed, be prepared to have to keep the kits and have spare cages. Believe it or not, I have taken back several of my own chins that I sold years ago, or other chins that people bought from pet stores or such. These chins were abandoned or no longer wanted by their owners. I don't personally breed as much as I did, because I have chins who are not for breeding as pets here now - permanently as pets only.
If you plan to have one as a pet that is great. Don't always feel, that an older chin is not what you want. Remember that chins live as much as 15 years or more. As long as it is tame, an older chin is fine as a pet.

Do you want one that is quiet, playful or affectionate? The best way to find out if your chin is the one you want, is by handling it. Hold it and see if it squirms in your hands, bites, or just rests in your palm. Please check how the breeder holds it as well. If the chinchilla squirms in the breeders hands, then that tells you it has not been handled much. Since he/she has lived with that breeder for most of its life, it should be used to them.

If you already have a chinchilla and are wanting to buy another one to keep it company. If your chinchilla is older than three years of age, try not to get one that is a baby. A chin one year old or as close in age to your own is fine. Never put a much younger chin with a much older one, especially if the older one has been alone for a while. The older one could fight with the younger one and this is not only in the case of males but females as well. The older ones will fight with younger ones. So it is best to try and find one close to age. Sometimes it is also the younger one that fights instead, on rare occasions.

Always make sure that if you purchase a chin, that the cage is big enough for it. If you have more than two you have purchased, make sure that the cage is big enough for the both of them. Chins need a lot of room, for running and jumping. The perfect cage for a chin needs to have platforms for it to jump onto, a sleeping box, chew toys, food dish (ceramic is best) and a hay rack. The cage should be no smaller than two feet wide by three feet high. That is for only one chin, if you have two or more, the cage should be much larger.

Also in most cases purchasing from a reputable and knowledgable breeder is best. If you don't know the breeder well, ask for references. Any good breeder should be able to provide at minimum 5 references. Ask about the chinchilla's background and history of illness in the family(if any.) or weaknesses,etc... A breeder should have a background for each chin they breed. The best you can get is a background of at minimum 3 generations. Check with the breeder about health guarantees. Most reputable breeders do have some sort of health guarantee for their pets(notice most pet stores do not.). Any breeder who does not have a policy or guarantee with their chinchillas, you should consider if this is someone you want to purchase from or not. If you are having the chinchilla shipped, ask for pictures, to ensure it is the chinchilla you want and what you are looking for. Even the most honest breeders may not be knowledgable about colors or genetics. You may think you are getting a homo ebony but it could be a standard. So always ask for pictures. Ask about the chinchilla's temperment. Most breeders will be honest if the chin has less than friendly attitude, or is so tame, it cuddles for hours on end with the breeder. Most importantly, realise that just as any breeder may seem nice, it is like a person who has a poker face sometimes. Some breeders can be really nice, offering free shipping, or chins for $15(when you know the chinchilla is worth alot more.), but once they have your payment, can just disappear.

Please always ask for references, health guarantee, reciept(if a deposit), and pictures of the chinchilla. When sending payments to breeders, it is best to send a payment that can be traced by a money order, paypal or check. I caution all new owners to do this. If the breeder is good, they should be willing to respect your questioning of the background, health, guarantee, and references. There are true genuine breeders out there who do great things for chin owners, but just as there are a few bad apples in the world, there are a few who breed too. Sometimes if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Also a breeder should be willing to refund or replace a chinchilla you purchase if the chin dies or becomes sick from health concerns due to the breeder's fault. Sometimes vet bills are paid also. Each breeders' guarantee or policy is different and varies of how long the guarantee lasts(as little as 5 days to as much as a year or even 3 years.), and if there is such a guarantee or policy get it in writing or in e-mail form. Any health guarantee, shows the breeder is responsible for their chinchillas.

Also, for new owners, please understand, if a breeder asks alot of questions of you, about what kind of enviroment your home is like, how much you know of chinchillas, etc... They do this not to be rude or nosy, but to know their chinchillas are going to good homes. Most breeders will ask questions of a prospective new chin owner for their chins, and do not feel offended. It shows they truly care about their chinchillas.

As well, if you have the heart to and the home available, consider adopting from your local animal shelter or rescue, if they have a chinchilla that you may like to keep as a pet. They may not have pedigrees or have a guarantee on health or more, but they can make wonderful pets too and deserve to be loved and given a good home, just as much as any other chinchilla. Sadly these days, quite a few chinchillas are in rescues or shelters across the world. I personally have helped on occasion in trying to find homes for these poor chinchillas who need homes or I have fostered chins from a shelter locally, as a temporary home until a permanent one can come along.

Please take into consideration all this before purchasing a chin.


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