Whimsy's Menagerie

Rescue, adoption , chincformation  & store

2012

Welcome

Newest Members

Recent Blog Entries

by ★ Owner

Updates Archive - 2012

(12/5/12)

Happy December everyone!

For the month of November, three (3) chinchillas were surrendered and four (4) chinchillas were adopted. It's the calm before the storm again. There have been many, many inquiries about Christmas chinchillas, which is rather exciting!

Pets as a gift is a highly debatable thing. In our way of thinking, whatever it takes to open your home, whether it be to save up for a special occasion, event or move, the addition of a new furry family member has many benefits. 

When you adopt a rescue, there is usually a process to help deflect any impulse purchase. With the caging requirements, contract, and interview, rescues generally produce better results when it comes to attracting those who seek to provide a "furever" home. 

Another benefit of adopting a rescue pet is the ongoing support and  expert advice provided by those of us who sincerely want to help. Unlike adopting from a pet store or stranger on Craigslist, we won't leave you flapping in the wind if an emergency happens, if you need boarding, supplies, or even medical and training advice. Plus, if the unfortunate decision to give up your chinchilla does occur, we are ready and able to welcome back any chinnie adopted from us.

The benefits to owning a pet are not one-sided. Studies have shown that pet ownership contributes to a person's sense of responsibility, provides unconditional love, and even boosts intelligence!

With that being said, we do have a handful of lucky chinnies who are going home for Christmas. So who would also like to open their hearts and homes this holiday season?

 

(11/24/12)

We've been brainstorming like crazy and have come up with a bunch of awesome and adorable new seasonal chew toys!

In celebration of the season, we are offering a limited-time package deal. For a flat rate of $100, you receive the following with shipping included:

Christmas Care Package Deluxe (a $122.00 value!)

 

Shipping: 15.50

2 Cage Garlands (1 original, 1 Icicle twist): 15.00  

Chinchilada: 6.00                             

(2) Wreaths: 20.00

Snowman: 7.50

Christmas Arbor-eat’em: 15.00                 

Candy Cane Twist: 5.00

Candy Cane Toss: 2.50

(3) Rose hips stuffed willow ball “ornaments”: 7.50

(2) Apple powdered grapevine wreaths: 8.00

Confetti Cuisine sampler: 5.00

5 oz Probiotic cookies: 5.00

And with the first 19 mail orders…Jamie Glaser’s Christmas CD: 10.00

Of course, the items are all available individually if you would like to order more or less. See the Store for details and ordering information:

http://www.whimsys-menagerie.com/chinchillachewtoys.htm

(11/14/12)

Is anyone else as frustrated as I am with their grocery shopping experiences lately?

While prices continue to climb, the quality and quantities we expect have plummeted sickeningly.  Boxes of cereal, bags of chips, even cans of vegetables contain less product, but with a higher price. And don't get me started on the packaging and price of coffee!

Can you feel my pain? Can I get an Amen??

Whimsy is determined to rebel, at least in her own way.  While others may scrimp and cut corners, under weigh and trim, we seek to make a BIGGER, BETTER product. Our good reputation comes from the fact that we're not only looking out for the well-being of chinchillas everywhere, but also their owners and the environment. In an effort to make effective use of all supplies and materials, we're constantly looking for ways to improve our store items and creatively use "scrap" bits and pieces that would normally go to waste. Which reminds me... Have you seen our new Carousel Hay Holder? 

In an ongoing effort to improve our products, some of the changes we've made, without fanfare, have been; 

  • LARGER vine balls with our stuffed toss toys 
  • THICKER slices of loofah and hay cubes
  • BIGGER pumice stones and antlers
  • FULLER portions
  • CHUNKIER toy parts
  • DENSER wood cage accessories
  • And not to mention....MORE STUFF!

We love to hear the positive regard of our customers. And many times new store items and ideas come from our Facebook fans. We welcome input and collaborative efforts. So tell us: How may we serve you?

 

(11/1/12)

Happy November everyone!

For the month of October, ten (10) chinchillas were surrendered and eleven (11) chinchillas were adopted. It was a giddy month when, until the last week, we had only taken in 3 fur babies. With all the empty cages, we actually got to allow the chins here to spread out as we opened up the jump holes on the triple stacks. 

Like busy little ants, we've had quite a time prepping for the winter. With hurricane Sandy and winter cold setting in, we've had our hands, stove top and oven constantly running with the fragrant varieties of woods we prepare for the chinchillas' gnawing pleasure. 

Our store selection has grown immensely over the past couple of months. If you've been following us on Facebook, you may have seen the teases and jibes Whimsy sends to alert our fans that another "something new" is coming. Lately the focus has been on chinchilla nutrition. Because the digestive system--from mouth to, *cough* tail--is the bane of the domestic chinchilla, foraging products are a necessity. Feed pellets are nutritionally complete, but are considered a "soft" food. In the wild, chinchillas will scavenge for grasses, leaves, bark, roots, herbs, flowers and other high fiber foods. This not only gives their teeth the workout it needs to ward off malocclusion, but keeps their tummies and intestines moving, which prevents stasis. 

Our little cloud bunnies have a natural tendency to seek out a wide range of food items. Have you ever noticed that they will eat ANYTHING? Furniture, electrical wires, shoes and homework papers are all at risk for an exploratory nibble. So, we've come up with some exciting new food items that are intended to stimulate and meet that natural foraging penchant. Check out some of our latest creations, available in the Store, just in time for Christmas!

The "Chinchilada" is a man-sized whole loofah overstuffed with the same herbal hay mixture that's in our Piñata toys. We've taken the stuffing to a more economical level with this creative combo, bound with seagrass. Every bit of this delicious food/toy is edible and makes an interesting weekly addition. 

We finally have our organic grapevine rings back in stock...with a twist.  This year's wreaths are much, MUCH larger than last year's. And as an added bonus, we've sprinkled them with a generous portion of apple fiber (think: powdered sugar donuts) to help absorb moisture and to encourage your chins to eat every twiggy curl.

Finally, we have come up with a foraging mix that you can offer in a separate food dish by the handful. "Confetti Cuisine" is a high fiber, apple-infused potpourri of loofah bites, chopped hay, rose buds and petals, calming chamomile flowers, peppermint, dehydrated carrot and the ever-popular crispy, dried leaves. Until this new release, I've had to beat people back with my imaginary e-stick to keep hold of enough leaves for this new product. (Thanks, Matty and Matt. :S ) But like Cinderella, the plain leaves have been transformed into a luscious new dish that looks and smells absolutely amazing!

Why yes, yes I do decorate my house with chinchilla supplies. :)

Please keep in mind, all of our products are natural with no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or other funky adulterating ingredients. (*cough* Beware those who color/flavor their chew toys with powdered drink mix or gelatine. Seriously????) We only offer what we are confident is good and safe for our fur babies, and share the new creations with you.

Enjoy! 

 

(10/6/12)

Happy October everyone!

For the month of September two (2) chinchillas were surrendered and six (6) chinchillas were adopted. For the first time EVER, we've had to delay inquiries for surrender due to space issues. We simply do not have extra room to fit the numbers of chinchillas needing care and a permanent home. As it is, our current chin count is 102 with 3 boarding and 58 for adoption.

Pet stores and backyard breeders continue to be our biggest nemesis in our effort to reduce the huge numbers of unwanted animals.  Nonetheless, we have a gigantic support network of people who want to help. Girl Scout troops, high-schoolers who need volunteer hours for an honor society, middle-schoolers who need volunteer time as part of their required curriculum, and the high-schoolers with special needs who desperately desire vocational training that doesn't involve the usual, paper folding, envelope stuffing, or paper shredding tasks. Making our colorful, texture-rich chew toys is something they heartily look forward to. 

When you purchase from our store, not only are you supporting our rescue work, you are also providing work opportunities for the students. :D

 

(9/3/12)

Happy September everyone!

For the month of August, nine (9) chinchillas were surrendered and seven (7) chinchillas were adopted. Most of our summer boarders went home and we now only have five chinnies staying both short and long term. For a brief few days we actually had our dining room free of temporary cages. *cough* I did say "brief", didn't I? Visitors often falsely believe that the welcoming chins are "the rescue"...until they walk into the actual chin room.  

We're fortunate enough to have lots and lots of volunteers who are willing and able to help out. This past weekend we had the pleasure of working with a local Girl Scout troop who needed animal service hours to earn a special badge. The girls helped clean cages, cut crabapple and pecan wood, socialize the chinchillas, help make shelves and assemble chew toys from extra parts and pieces for the rescues.

When asked how many of the girls asked their parents if they could have a chinchilla the answer was, "All of them, of course!" ;)

 

(8/26/12)

We couldn't have said it better ourselves! Check out this amazing article. If you've missed the summer opportunity to adopt, the beginning of the school year is a perfect time to make that up. ;)

http://shine.yahoo.com/pets/surprising-pets-makes-kids-smarter-130500347.html

By WebVet.com

"This guy makes you more clever?

If you want your children to do better in school -- get them a chinchilla. A new study found a link between a better performance in the classroom and kids who have pets, especially the aforementioned soft rodents.

Surprisingly it was the chinchilla that emerged as the most likely animal to boost a child's cleverness, with 55% of owners reporting an uptick in creativity. If it's just a kid's homework that needs a boost, consider adopting mice or rats as 92% of rodent owners reported a better performance on assignments, compared with 86% and 80% for children owning dogs and cats respectively.

The underlying belief is that caring for a pet makes children more responsible. In the Pets at Home study, nearly half of children said that owning and looking after a pet makes them happier, a third claimed to be calmer, while a fifth feel smarter."

With that being said...why hold off on adopting? We have nearly 50 chinchillas here available for adoption. With that many personalities, we're sure your child's new best study partner is just an email away. :)

 

(8/10/12)

Love what we do, but can’t adopt?

Fallen in love with one of our medical cases and want to show your support?

Sponsor a chinchilla!

For only a dollar per day ($30 per month) you can help us, help the animals. Your sponsorship donation covers the cost of food, hay, dust, bedding and care for a single chinchilla. Additional gifts of chew toys, treats, or other items can be made in addition to the basic plan, in any amount at your specification.

Sponsorship programs are strictly voluntary. You may choose to sponsor a chin until they are adopted, or cancel at any time. Sponsorship is on a month to month basis. Any remaining funds will be applied to the general chinchilla expenses account.

To sponsor a particular chinchilla, just click in the donations button and add the name and any additional wishes in the “special instructions” box. If the chosen chinnie is listed as available on the adoptions page, an emblem with your sponsorship name will appear…like this….

 (8/5/12)

Happy August everyone!

For the month of July, thirteen (13) chinchillas were adopted and eight (8) chinchillas were surrendered. Sounds good, right? Well...we've received an unusual number of medical cases lately. Roo, a chinchilla with bumblefoot was surrendered when her owners became overwhelmed by her condition and their life situation. Toast, an emaciated ebony girl came to us on death's door. She has since started eating and now has a little female friend to keep her company and encourage her to eat. Ginger, a fur chewed girl came in as part of a mixed group from a home without air conditioning! Her prognosis was also very grave, but has perked up, stopped chewing her fur and littered a sweet baby boy and girl. We’ve also received some of our most aged couple. A 15 year old brother/sister pair were surrendered when their owner was admitted to an assisted living facility. The brother/sister were not housed together and we were told do not get along. We have since found a male friend for the brother and are still working on finding a compatible friend for the female.

While we do generally have excellent community support and response to our search for just the right homes for these recycled pets, we still have many who have been waiting their turn for the perfect home. Some of the more troubled chins have been here for months, if not years. Our adoption fees cover but a small portion of our expenses necessary to care for the chinnies who come to us.

It's our store that makes it possible for us to continue doing the work we do to help families find new homes for their chins and help with medical expenses whenever possible. While we do not like to solicit donations, we're more than excited to offer new store items for sale. So with that in mind, we'd like to officially introduce our two latest chinnie chew toys!!!! Whoo hoo!!!!

First is our Jacob's Ladder, made with 6 different kinds of chin-safe woods. While not technically "new" anymore, we never did an official release. *cough* My bad, sorry about that.

And finally, the one you've all been waiting for.... The one Whimsy has been so secretive about.... Our newest.....Chinchilla Piñata! This Whimsy original is a giant oversized willowball stuffed with the choicest hays, herbs, flowers and treats. Check out our store for more details and ordering information, and stay tuned for more future releases. ;) 

 

(7/30/12)

Babylon, one of the chinnies here at Whimsy's, suffered a rectal prolapse.  A rectal prolapse is an emergency situation. The exposed intestine must be kept moist or you will risk tissue death. As quickly as possible the rectum and exposed intestine must be cleaned, moistened and reinserted before it strangulates or dries out.  It should not be forcefully pushed in or poked with a dry cotton swab. The intestine, rather, is gently rolled and massaged, with plenty of lubricant to help it retract.  Below is a video clip showing Babylon's prolapse and Whimsy easing the intestine back in place. During the filming we were much less concerned with a sterile field than we are with getting the exposed intestine back where it should be. 

 

Babylon re-prolapsed dozens of times while waiting for the emergency vet to attend him to sew a purse-string stitch around his anus, where it remained in place for two days. A week later he prolapsed twice, but has since stabilized without the need for another stitch. 

 

 

It took nearly two weeks for Babylon to pass a normal stool during which time he has been on a regimen of Critical Care hand feeding formula, subcutaneous fluids, antibiotics, metacam for pain, simethicone to dissipate the gas buildup, and antiparasitics. Throughout this ordeal, Babylon lost over 100 grams of body weight!

 

We are happy to announce that Babylon has survived this radical situation. He is now eating and drinking on his own and continues to get healthy and strong. If you are faced with this situation, please know that it is not automatically deemed a no-win case. With quick intervention, the outcome can be successfully treated. 

This intervention was subsequently utilized when a second baby chin prolapsed 6 weeks after Babylon's ordeal. After inserting the exposed rectum, Whimsy also quickly administered antibiotics and continued to reinsert the prolapse as needed. Within an hour the little girl stabilized and did not prolapse again. She is currently receiving antibiotics and has shown no further signs of distress.

We hope that this post will inform and give hope to anyone who finds their chinchilla in this situation. 

 

(7/23/12)

Periodically we receive reports of chinchillas who suddenly exhibit symptoms of loose, watery, or mushy stool with no known obvious cause. If your chinchilla has not experienced a change in environment, change in diet, too many treats, a switch in food, or a new food source, medical intervention may be necessary. 

Please keep in mind that a stool sample which is deemed "negative" for parasites does NOT necessarily imply that your pet is free from harmful invaders. All that implies is that the stool sample tested reveals no obvious parasites. Because chinchillas tend to be extraordinarily sensitive animals, a conservative approach may actually lead to its demise.  

Regretfully, we had to learn this lesson the hard way.

By experience we have learned that mushy stool or reoccurring loose stool requires an aggressive treatment. Home remedies like offering shredded wheat cereal may firm the stools temporarily, but ultimately only masks the symptoms and can actually exacerbate the problem when a lethal number of harmful bacteria grow in the chinchillas' digestive system. 

Years ago, in a fit of desperation, our local vet prescribed a wide spectrum antibiotic to treat some chins who were wasting away and did not respond to more homeopathic measures. This last-ditch treatment actually halted the death toll and cured the sick chins. 

In recent years we have seen similar outbreaks in chinchillas both in our herd and those not associated with us. On rare occasion, fecal tests have revealed coccidia, cryptosporidium, and clostridium; all waterborne parasites. Albon and Panacur became the prescription of choice and once again quickly relieved the symptoms, even though the majority of the chins showing symptoms tested negative for infection. 

If you are already using reverse osmosis water, please keep in mind that washing the water bottle in tap is still enough exposure to pass on to your chinnies. Certain parasites that are usually relatively harmless to healthy humans can cause illness in chins. You can boil your water bottle to sanitize it, but some parasites are resistant to even the harshest chemicals such as bleach! 

As an added precaution against waterborne parasites, we have started using a UV-C sanitizing wand to kill harmful bacteria that may have gotten through the city filtration system. Sunshine is also another germ fighting resource excellent for helping to disinfect cages and accessories. But for instances of obvious loose stool, we do not hesitate to administer our treatment of choice.  Please share with your local vet the information we have gleaned about the administration of Albon and Panacur as treatment for loose stool/diarrhea that has no obvious cause. 

 

(7/15/12)

On knowing when to let go…

We all live in hope.

We can be blinded by this.

For pet owners, knowing when to seek vet care and knowing when to let go are very, very, difficult decisions. With chinchillas, they mask their symptoms for as long as possible, but certain biological symptoms cannot be hidden. If a chin refuses to eat, drink, is lethargic or has unusual bowel movements or activity level, those are all cause for concern.

Many times treatment can be effective if intervention is provided before the point of lethargy. A slow, sleepy or wobbly chin is not normal. It is a downward spiral that will not get better on its own. This is true IF the cause of lethargy is not overheating. If the chin is overheated, the immediate course of action is not to force feed or medicate, but to cool. Don’t fool yourself into seeing improvement that isn’t there. If there is the least bit of nagging suspicion that all is not well, please trust your instincts and get veterinary help right away. 

Having experienced just about every chinchilla ailment with the hundreds of animals that have come through our doors, we have a fairly accurate sense of knowing when a chin is not going to pull through. There are certain characteristics that chinchillas show when they have reached the point of no return.

A chin can be lethargic, which is usually the kiss of death, but if they accept hand feeding and medications by mouth, they still have a fighting chance. Even the most radical medical emergencies can succeed if we gauge the chin’s behavior and act accordingly. A chinchilla with a spark of hope will fight hand feeding, chew or lick whatever comes in contact with their mouth: the more vigorous the movements, the better the prognosis. But it is important to get help while the chinchilla is still strong.

A lethargic chin who simply drools out is not likely to have the fight to survive. As painful as it sounds, it is at this point we should prepare to say our good-byes.

(7/7/12)

...the question is, are YOU ready to adopt? 

Not to be rude, but when I receive emails or calls from people asking basic chinchilla care questions, I wonder if they are truly prepared to own an exotic pet. Questions such as, "How much does it cost each month to own a chinchilla?" are impossible to answer.  Much of that depends on where you purchase your supplies, how diligent you are about the health of your pet, how far are you willing to go to support a healthy life, and if you have severe financial constraints. 

Other questions regarding temperature requirements, housing requirements, treats, food, life span, health problems etc., etc. are available ad nauseam all over this site... and on the Internet in general. To address those questions in an easy-to-find, streamlined manner, please visit our Questions & Answers page (previously FAQ). Also coming soon, a handy quick guide to chinchilla ownership available for download in the Documents & Forms section. 

As an adoption facility, shouldn't we be the ones interviewing to find if the potentially adoptive home is properly prepared? We believe so.  

(7/1/12)

Happy July everyone!

Wow! The month of June just flew past! If you are one of our Facebook fans, you know the daily happenings have kept us busy, busy, busy!

*cough* But I digress....

For the month of June, nine (9) chinchillas were surrendered, and nine (9) chinchillas were adopted. We are also currently boarding nine (9) chinchillas here for summer vacations. 9, 9, 9....creepy.

It was an interesting month where the number of adoptions looked like we were finally winning back some elbow room, then, 4 more chinchillas came in on the very last day. (Party crashers.) :P 

But we have some exciting news!

The girls of the mass surrender from the Montgomery County Humane Society have passed their maternity watch and are now available for adoption! Of the 14 females, only 5 actually littered. Several other females showed initial signs of pregnancy, but we suspect the impact of the changes in their little furry lives caused the kits to be reabsorbed. This is actually a blessed relief.

Animal shelters all across the country are having a difficult time placing unwanted animals into homes. Even we have seriously started thinking it may come to the point where we would have to turn away those inquiring about surrendering their pets. We have NEVER in the past had to do this, but our moderately sized home, even with the chinchilla room extension, is unusually swollen with chinchillas waiting for new families. So I have an offer for you. Yes, you!

Like the McRib sandwich, like Shamrock Shakes, like religious freedom in America, for a limited time, anyone willing to adopt 3 or more of the Montgomery county girls, and promise to keep them together, we will give a totally free, (albeit ugly) cage large enough to house a group.

Hear me out. It is just as easy to care for a group of chins sharing the same cage as it is to care for one chinchilla. Plus, our very low-cost supplies make chin ownership cheap enough for even a child paying for upkeep with their allowance. 

We strongly prefer chins in groups and these girls are perfect for someone looking to adopt a herd of their own.  In the event something happens to one of them, the remaining chins still have each other for company. See the logic? I hope so.

Yes, we are available on nights, weekends, most holidays, etc, etc, etc. We only ask that potential adopters follow the guidelines listed on the Adoptions page and email to set up an appointment to meet the chins. We're looking forward to hearing from you. :) 

 

(6/5/12)

Happy June everyone!

For the month of May, seven (7) chinchillas were surrendered, and four (4) chinchillas were adopted.  Ouch! It's been an especially low month for adoptions, but we've gotten many, many inquiries from people who are waiting for summer break to adopt. 

We've also had the privilege this month of helping three families find a new fur friend for their chinchilla(s).  Introducing chins is not for the faint of heart! Sometimes, unknowing newbies get lucky when they toss a couple of chins together and they get along right away. Many times, however, the results are disastrous. Chinchillas, if not properly introduced or socialized, WILL fight to the death. A chinchilla introduction can be quite unnerving and risky.

With the countless numbers of single chinchillas who come through our doors, we've had plenty of experience with bonding the lonely ones. A rare few are determined unsafe to put with other chins. For this reason, we don't often have single chins available to pair with those seeking a friend for their chinchilla.

Lately we've had the opportunity to accommodate those requests now that the Maryland mass surrender from Montgomery County is becoming available. Of the nearly 30 chinchillas that came to us back in March, all of the young males have gone to new homes. Of the females, five of them have littered so far and with their exceptionally long gestation period, we may still see more. The first two babies have gone to new homes with the third one spoken for already! 

In the meantime, we still have roughly 100 chinchillas here who are in our care. Some of them are on maternity watch, some are undergoing medical care, others are under quarantine and observation while still others are simply waiting for their new families to find them.  Please remember, your donation and/or store purchase helps us keep our ministry to these exceptional pets strong. 

Which reminds me!...

Before I forget, thank you Shawn, for the kiwi wood donation and the exercise wheel.

Thank you, Denise, for the flowers and cookies. 

Thank you, Ann, for your never-ending supply of donuts and all the volunteer cage cleaning, chin scritching, and rant listening. 

Thank you, Ken, for the cage donations and pear wood. 

Thank you, Jay, for the new computer and camera!

Thank you, Jamie, for including us in your new song/video and your unfailing extra monetary support. 

And thank you to everyone who has rounded up the payment on their store purchases!

The outpouring of community support and all around goodwill has us overcome with joy. It's been a pleasure serving the chins and all our new and old friends.  

 

(5/28/12)

This weekend we removed several chinchillas from horrid conditions. A person alleging to be a rescue and rehabber was seriously putting the animals at risk. Just because someone professes to be a rescue, does not necessarily legitimize the claim.

Sometimes weakly distinctive lines exist between rescuing, hoarding and collecting. A true rescue will improve the lives of the animals in their charge. A rescue makes sure the animals have plenty of proper food, water, and housing. At the very least, all the basic needs are fulfilled without reserve. A rescue’s objective should be to rehabilitate and re-home, not amass. Although with the economy the way it is currently, finding homes for unwanted animals can be an excruciatingly slow process.

There are gradients of goodness to animal rescue groups. We always strongly suggest that anyone who is considering giving up a pet, check out the facility first. A concerned pet owner will want to know that their furry friend is going to be taken care of. The best facilities should be clean, welcoming, with personnel willing to spend time answering any and all questions. A red flag for a highly questionable rescue is one that operates as strictly pick up only, or arranges to meet in a public place. A public facility that has an overpowering stench, empty food and water bowls, especially where the animals are already emaciated, and uptight staff are not going to be an ideal place to surrender your previously beloved member of the family.  

Animal hoarding is a psychological condition where a person sincerely loves animals and wants to help, but becomes overburdened by the responsibilities of care and provision. They simply cannot bear the thought of giving up a pet even if it means the animal suffers. When a person cannot financially support the animals in their care, some serious reconsideration should be implemented. 

A person with a lot of pets is not necessarily hoarding. Recall that the difference lies in the fact that the animal’s needs are met. Where one person can have difficulty providing for a single pet, others are perfectly at ease managing entire farms. It’s a matter of personal strength and ability.

Animal rescue is a noble goal, but it requires a lot of time, a lot of experience, and a lot of money. We are fortunate to have sufficient quantities of each. ;) As a home school family, we have the time. As long-time chinchilla owners, we have specialized experience. And operating the affiliated chinchilla supplies store, adoption fees and donations fund the rescue work. With the incredible amount of community support we have, we are able to do our job well! Thank you all for your past and future support.

(5/19/12)

Well....May is supposed to be National Adopt a Pet Month. It being midway through the month, I can understand why this particular season was chosen. By this time of the year, many live Christmas gifts have lost their appeal and many young animals are given up when they are well past the cute baby phase. 

To help address the vast numbers of unwanted pets, the North Shore Animal League America is hosting a 2012 Pet Adoptathon. http://http//www.animalleague.org/events-news/events/tours-events/pet-adoptathon-2012.html This is our second year partaking in the event. This year we have more chinchillas than ever who need good, safe, loving homes.

While we have received countless inquires from people interested in adopting, many of them fall prey to the impulse buy of a pet store animal or cheap "for sale" ad from someone who wants to recoup their losses. This is a particular pet peeve of Whimsy's. In no way is buying from a pet store or a backyard breeder considered "rescuing" an animal, no matter how pitiful the conditions.  When an animal is bought and sold, there is always another to replace the sad little creature. So why support this? Pet stores focus on what sells. A pet store will not advise when a chin is in trouble, other than to refer a worried owner to the vet, or to us ;) Thank you, mystery person at the local PetSmart.  

Is it because of our reputation for the excellent care we give these animals that perhaps is our own worst enemy? Our chin room is far from the horrific conditions seen in pet stores and even the sparse enclosures one would find in most humane societies or animal control facilities. But these chins were never meant to be here permanently. They need homes where they can receive an abundance of one-on-one attention...even more than we can provide. 

Our primary goal here is to ensure that each chinchilla is paired with another of his or her own gender, to discourage perpetuating the countless numbers of unwanted chins, but keep their need for herd living intact. We also screen and teach each potential adoptive family about chin care and handling, as well as offer lifelong support and advice. 

Your adoption fees and store purchases are applied directly to the care, vet costs and upkeep of those chinchillas with whom we are entrusted. When we are able to re-home sweet tempered, healthy chins, this frees up room and time to help the mass surrenders and medical cases that inevitably come our way. 

Won't you please help us help the animals? We have at least  30 chinchillas who are ready to go to new homes right now. But if you hold off for an opportune time, you may miss out on finding your best friend. First come, first choice. ;) So, which of the chins will choose you? 

(5/1/12)

Happy May everyone!

For the month of April, five (5) chinchillas were surrendered, and (7) chinchillas were adopted. It's been an interesting balance, but we did also take in 3 chins for boarding this month. Out of necessity, we've expanded the chinchilla room, yet again. Whimsy is digging in her heels to keep from moving her office out of the chin area. Instead, we're strategically moving appliances. ;)

On a totally different note, we've been contemplating the variety of folks who contact us regarding adoption. Many times it's a sheer joy to meet people whose hearts are reaching out to give a home to an unwanted animal. Other times it's rather disheartening to know that some come to us with less than heroic intentions. Some unabashedly call looking for cheap exotic animals to breed. Others want a play toy for their children with absolutely no idea about the requirements for housing, food, handling, etc. And then there's always the joker who wants to adopt and inquires about how many chins it takes to make a fur coat. It was amusing the first time, and the answer is 150 for a short coat. Now can we get serious? 

 

 Is it any wonder why we require a signed contract? 

The sad part happens when we take in and care for these animals, do our best to screen for a good home, adopt the chinnies out, and never hear from the adoptive family again. We truly want to know that the fuzzbutts are well, and it's frustrating when, months later sometimes chins are returned with crappy pet store food and treats and filthy cages. *gasp!* Did I say that out loud?

We DO appreciate those who stay in contact, continue their chins on the same high quality food, treats and chew toys that we offer and keep us updated on the fur babies. We want to help! Stuff happens. Emergencies happen and it's not necessarily the fault of the adoptive family. If something goes terribly wrong, we can assist. 

 

 

(4/28/12)

 Bumblefoot

Bumblefoot, medically known as ulcerative pododermatitis, is an inflammation of the foot pads. It is most commonly found in captive birds and rodents. Chinchillas are most susceptible to Bumblefoot when exposed to housing conditions that are less than optimal.

Wire floored cages, or cages with wire shelves and ramps are hard on sensitive little feet and are often the culprits of this disease.  A chronically dirty cage is also one of the primary contributors of Bumblefoot. Where a chin is exposed to damp, dirty floors or where he/she is inclined to urinate in favorite spots and rest in the aftermath, these conditions are breeding grounds for bacteria that causes ulcers to form. Even a simple case of dry feet from unlimited access to dust baths can crack the foot pads and offer a doorway to this malady. 

Treatment for Bumblefoot is a long, laborious process and it is very  painful for the chin. The feet must be soaked several times each day to keep the area clean and supple. Epsom salts soaks, vinegar and water, colloidal silver, or  prescription Chlorhexidine wash are the usual courses of treatment. Oral antibiotics and pain meds are normally prescribed in conjunction. Additional topicals like Blu-Kote, Silver Sulfadiazine, Bag Balm with or without  foot wraps are often applied after each soak. 

We had a chinnie surrendered this week with a very bad case of Bumblefoot on all four feet. The hind feet were especially ulcerated with a raging infection. The poor baby also had an infected eye and what originally looked like an ulcer on the base of her tail turned out to be a half healed bone break! The owners  tried to do their best, but treating a squirmy chin isn't easy.

Foot soaks can be simple and hands-free with this method: Fill a clean kitchen sink with a few inches of water and additives of choice. A weighted cooling rack or cage panel placed across the top of the sink will ensure the chinchilla receives all the healing benefits without the seemingly endless time it would take to hold the little bugger still. You can simply set a timer for 5-10 minutes and allow the chin to safely debride. This is one of the few instances where it is necessary to get your chinchilla wet.

 

A modified burrito wrap allows for easy access to the feet without fear of a toothy retaliation. In this manner, you can apply additional ointments or creams, or get a better look at the healing process. This little chinnie seems to enjoy being bundled up. After each treatment we snuggle her like a baby to give her a few minutes off her painful feet.

Bumblefoot is a serious disease with painful and lengthy treatment. The absolute best course of action is preventative. Be sure your cage is properly set up for chinchillas, practice excellent husbandry management, and be alert to any changes in behavior or condition.

(4/1/12)

Happy April, everyone!

For the month of March, thirty-four (34!) chinchillas were surrendered, and twelve (12) were adopted. 

Last month we had the Montgomery County mass surrender, plus our "usual" number of surrenders on top of that. On average, this type of mass influx seems to happen two or three times per year. We are very fortunate to have met so many kindhearted people who are interested in providing a loving home for the chinchillas in our care. And the outpouring of support by store orders, food and supplies donations and even monetary ($) donations has been a blessed relief.

The mass group has been doing very well since they've arrived. We've moved all the females into a huge baby safe cage where they can continue living together while on maternity watch. One female has already produced kits; one boy, one girl. The babies weighed in at the typical 41 and 44 grams. Considering the size and condition of the mother, this is quite miraculous! 

Four of the Montgomery boys have been adopted to two different homes. We have also learned just which of the boys love or hate each other and have divided them according to their preferences. At this time, we have two pairs and one group of 4 left, plus about 20 or so other chins who are waiting to meet their future families. 

Why adopt a rescue? 

These chinchillas depend on us to keep them comfortable, fed and loved. Usually, when chinchillas are surrendered, they have passed the adorable, but crazy baby stage and settled into their personalities. By that time the former owners have either lost interest, developed allergies, or had some sort of life-changing event which caused them to have to give up their pets. The little critters deserve a second chance! Baby cuteness is what makes pet stores thrive, but that period of time is very, very short. With and animal that lives up to 20 years, that opportunity for adoption is like a blink of an eye.

When you adopt from us, we provide a no kidding, honest assessment of their personalities and potential.  We also present a crash course in chin care and handling, with lifetime support. We make sure each adoptive home is properly equipped to ensure a full and happy life for the fuzzbutts, but the rest is up to you.

Now who is up to the challenge? 

 

(3/7/12)

Happy March, everyone!

For the month of February, six (6) chinchillas were surrendered and nine (9) chinchillas were adopted.

We received word yesterday that Montgomery County Humane in Maryland got in a mixed group of over 26 chinchillas surrendered by one family! The wonderful folks at the humane society did an amazing job sexing and dividing the groups into male and female. Unfortunately, three of the chins had to be euthanized before we could help evaluate and assist. 

The group appears to be the result of a family left to breed without restraint. The size and condition of all 26 chinchillas is heartbreaking. Several have torn and chewed up ears. Most are fur chewed and all are grossly underweight. We are grateful that the family finally surrendered the group where they could receive the care they need. 

At this time the chins are undergoing evaluation for health, behavior and possible pregnancies. 

While most of the time the surrenders we receive are from truly concerned folks who for whatever reason can't keep their pets, occasions such as this underscore the rescue aspect of Whimsy's Menagerie & Chinchilla Rescue. 

Your adoption fees and store purchases go to support such efforts as this. If you would like to contribute, or even better, make a store purchase, your donation or order would be humbly appreciated. 

 

 

(2/24/12) 

As much as they may look like them, chinchillas are NOT bunnies. Although they are rodents, the natural arid habitat of the chinchilla calls for a diet that is totally different from your veggie-munching look-a-like. The chinchilla's diet should be very bland and very dry, high in fiber, low in protein, with virtually no fats or sugars.

Contrary to what many chinchilla books and even some ill-informed vets advise, their digestive systems cannot handle the moisture-rich content of fresh vegetables. And fresh fruits are a definite no-no. (Good Lord I have a lot of hyphenated words in this post)!  

We received an emergency phone call recently from someone whose chinchilla was lethargic and unresponsive. When the owner said her chin wouldn't even eat her carrots anymore, that set off the alarm! I asked her if her chinchilla's belly was especially swollen and she was surprised that I knew.   

 

Chinchillas can't pass gas, so if they eat fresh foods, the gas build-up can literally blow them up from the inside out. This condition is called bloat, and is life threatening. It can happen with the addition of the wrong foods, gorging on too many treats, or a sudden switch in diet. 

Please people, do the research before you adopt. 

(2/4/12)

Happy February, everyone. :)

For the month of January, ten (10) chinchillas were surrendered, and six (6) chinchillas were adopted. Four (4) chinchillas have come off of maternity watch without kits and are now available as a bonded group. At this time we have approximately twenty (20) chinchillas who are waiting for their new homes.  

One of our visitors commented that it must be difficult to re-home pairs and groups of chinchillas. On the contrary!  We have found those who research first the decision to adopt an exotic pet understand the unique needs of chinchillas and the fact that they desire the comfort of their own kind when we are not available to interact with them. That is, assuming the chin in question is not overly aggressive or neurotic. 

With caged pets, it's just as easy to care for multiples as it is to care for a single...within reason. But the largest consideration is the size and layout of their environment. A well provided home offers approximately 2x2x2 square feet of cage space per chinchilla. Overlap on space can occur with  small groups, but in general these are the dimensions you'll want to shoot for. Having plenty of ledges, shelves, hiding places and other forms of environmental stimulation is absolutely necessary to keep your pets happy and mentally healthy. Too many times we've received (or seen) horrible cages that look more like jail cells than homes. Which is why we offer complete cage setups in our "pre-owned cages" page of our store. 

Folks often ask how much it costs to get/own/maintain a chinchilla. After the initial sticker shock of the pet, cage and accessories, regular monthly upkeep is minimal, depending on where you purchase your supplies. ;) *cough* If you haven't already, come check out our co-op style store. 

 

(1/25/12)

When surrender chins come to Whimsy's, they (and their cages) arrive in various states of condition.

This special case came in with chinchilla-size dreadlocks hanging from his back and sides. These knots can develop on chins with especially dense coats when new fur grows and tangles in the old fur during a priming (shedding) cycle. Rolling in clean dust serves the purpose of removing old, loose fur as well as oils and foreign particles in the new fur.

Without regular bathing, the knots can grow so large that they require a special grooming comb (typically used when preparing a chin for shows) to remove them. This is not a store-bought flea comb. It is specially made for thick chinchilla fur, with teeth needle-sharp to separate the super fine hairs. One such chinchilla stars in our latest video... it's a chinchilla makeover! Watch the transformation.

It'll take another couple of months for the resulting patches to grow back in completely. Check back later for before/after pictures.

 

(1/14/12)

  "MITCHELL
    Okay, for starters, I think you need a strong opening sequence.
    MARTIN
    Are you serious? No one does that anymore. You just throw up the title and get on with it."

--(Stargate SG-1, episode 200).

 

*cue theme song* Hair Rings       

So...our Facebook fans gave the thumbs up to post about this subject. Anyone offended can blame them. *kidding* :)

Owners of male chinchillas should be aware of the existence of what are called "hair rings". This happens when fur wraps around the shaft of the penis and becomes impossible for the chin to remove himself.  Some forums dictate that monthly hair ring checks should be performed.

I disagree. 

Subjecting your pet to intrusive monthly exams is not only unnecessary, but it's also traumatic. If a male chin is truly suffering from a hair ring, it is relatively easy to spot without having to manhandle his little manbits to see. 

Most of the time a chin can remove or clean his own. In rare cases, we must intervene. In our most recent instance, the chin in question had an unusual bulge in his sheath. To assist the little guy we used a sizable portion of 100% pure aloe vera gel (some use KY Jelly) to gently extract the....uh....length of the member. *cough* Here you can clearly see the ring on the extracted shaft where Whimsy has already started to loosen it.

 

 

This is a delicate procedure, which is why we do not recommend "monthly checks". Permanent damage can be done if you twist, bend, or fail to re-sheath. But I digress. Here tweezers are used to gently slide the ring down the shaft and tease it apart. 

 

Once the ring is removed, re-sheathing is very important. The lubricant helps glide everything back in place and allows for healing.

 

We hope this post has been helpful and not too intimidating. Hmm....perhaps we should make this procedure available on our "services" page.... whatcha think?

(1/11/12)

Malocclusion

The word that strikes dread into the hearts of chinchilla owners. It is the bane of the domestic chinchilla's life and is a hotly debated topic on forums worldwide. 

Malocclusion is a dental diagnosis that encompasses just about any tooth and jaw ailment, whether it be misalignment, uneven wearing, overgrown surface areas, elongated roots, or tooth and jaw related abscesses.

Clinically "normal":

This one (below) has "issues". Notice the lack of straight line between upper and lower teeth at the grinding surfaces with elongated roots growing into the eye and nasal cavities and into the lower jaw bone. 

In the wild, chinchillas have unlimited access to a variety of chewing and eating options. This allows the chin to naturally choose the kinds and types of tooth wearing activities they happen to need. Teeth grow an average of 2-3 inches per year, so it is essential that they have plenty of opportunity to keep that growth in check. Hay and grasses offer the kinds of fiber needed to work the molars and cheek teeth. Wood, sticks and volcanic stones (chew toys) offer a workout for the incisors. 

With this in mind, we've designed and made available lots of options in our store to help you help your chin keep his or her teeth and gums strong and healthy.  While feed pellets are generally considered a "soft" food, we're excited to announce our newest item; Show Hutch Deluxe, an extruded (extra hard) feed pellet. And don't forget the chew toys, hay and rose hips!

(1/1/12)

 Happy New Year Everyone!

For the month of December, 14 chinchillas were given up for adoption, and 10 chinchillas were adopted. For the entire year of 2011, 134 fuzzbutts were adopted to new homes! Not only is this a remarkable success, but some of the amazing people we've met through our rescue efforts have been a blessing in many, many ways.

We have quite a following now of young volunteers and hard core customers who religiously return for supplies while eagerly looking forward to our newest creative cage accessory or chew toy. We've even had our first completed international order!

This year has had its share of struggles too while we have played the role of supportive care for chins in hospice, advised people in emergency situations, become privy to, and called to help alleviate some rather shocking living conditions, been a relief agency for various animal control facilities, and dealt with the occasional broken contract.

All in all, it's been quite a learning experience. Thank you, everyone, for a year well spent.