Whimsy's Menagerie

Rescue, adoption , chincformation  & store



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Updates Archive - 2015


Happy December everyone!

For the month of November, two (2) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. Christmas is just around the corner and we?re eagerly anticipating the start of a new year. Thanksgiving came and the chinnies received an extra special gift that day from one of our chinnie friends. Thank you George and family for your continued support and generous surprises.

Now. We have some very, very important news to share. The people from the Rock Spring Farm contest that we entered to win the farm, contacted us the day before Thanksgiving to let us know that our essay was chosen as one of the finalists. In the next sentence, however, we read that the target number of entries did not come in, so the contest is canceled.

*cue panicked music*

Pan out on person, hanging off the edge of a cliff?

Zoom in on hands outstretched?reaching?reaching towards a saviors hand?fingertips barely touching?

?then plummeting off the edge.

Yup. That?s how Whimsy feels right about now. It?s been rather depressing to say the least. (Actually, there was a day or two of hysterical sobbing). It?s one thing to learn the contest is over and we didn?t win. It?s quite another thing to learn we were one of the ?chosen ones? and had a very VERY good chance at winning.

But the saga continues. The owners have extended an offer to purchase the property at a reduced price. So, if anyone happens to have a spare $615,000 that they don?t need, just let us know.

The property has a rental cottage that would help apply towards the mortgage payment. We also learned that some of the contestants have expressed the willingness to donate their entry fee to help someone from the contest purchase the farm. If everyone from the contest donated their entry fee, it would make a HUGE down payment. We have been talking with a mortgage lender and are considering starting a ?Go Fund Me? page to help with this dream?but Whimsy thinks that?s kinda tacky. What do y?all  think?

Happy November everyone!
For the month of October, one (1) chinchilla was surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted. We still have a waiting list for surrenders and adoptions continue to be low. We have had quite a large number of people come to us for our matchmaking service which is both helpful and frustrating. It's helpful in the sense that adoptable chins are going home, but frustrating that only the most docile chins are eligible. We have lots and LOTS of single males who are friendly, but can't be caged with another chin who absolutely need good, permanent homes. *sigh*
Anywho...the topic of this month's post is: 
Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should
For some strange reason, this month we've experienced quite a large number of shocking bits of information. All of it has come with the disclaimer that the chins "never had very much", "it was an emergency", "they do fine", "it was never for very long", or Whimsy's personal favorite, "I didn't know". Those are just some of this month's highlights. Welcome to our world.
We are always wary of people who claim they have researched chin care or who get advice from pet stores. The internet is full of chin-information, much of it simply reflects the beliefs of the writer who is seeking to justify their practices. Yes, this includes our website as well. However, we will never advocate anything that is contrary to what is closest to natural for ours and your pets. For example, even though we continuously stress the importance of a highfiber/lowprotein/nofat/nosugar diet, we still see chins who are fed dried fruits, nuts, and yogurt candy drops!
Here's another example, the picture of this pet store treat specifies that it's for chinchillas. The ingredients, however, state that this plastic-like, carrot shaped lump is made of rice, pineapple, starch, palm oil, gelatin and artificial colors. Just...no.

Pet stores advocate a plethora of dangerous items, including food, treats, plastic exercise balls, hanging wire hay balls, etc. Your job is to weed through the bling and choose the best. (Which is another reason why our web store began. We do our very best to offer affordable, healthy items! Don't even get me started on those who offer flavored and colored loofahs!)
Another big pet peeve are people who say their single chins do just fine alone. *nods* Yup, even we have chins kept in single cages...for their safety. Chins are herd animals and being alone is unnatural. However, if they are highly aggressive towards their own kind, there is no escape for the underdog in an attack, in a cage. We will always advocate for pairbonding same sex chins if they are receptive to it. 
Moderation is key, but if we want to keep our fur babies healthy and safe, we will have to be wise about their care. As their guardians, we should ask ourselves whether a certain food or care practice is acceptable, or beneficial. *hint* Our goal is to encourage people to choose beneficial over acceptable.
Happy October everyone!
For the month of September, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. We still have a waiting list for incoming surrenders as we struggle to reclaim space so that Whimsy's family can once again have a clothes washer and dryer in the house. At this time we have taken in 26 for the year, and 28 have been adopted. We still have rescues who have been with us from previous years who seriously need a permanent home of their own.
We recently softened our adoption contract. Some families have questioned the strict policy of returning adoptive chins to our facility if the adoptive owner could not keep them for any reason. They have inquired about passing ownership of the chinchillas from one sibling to another. For this reason we now have a "right of first refusal" clause. Each situation is unique, but not necessarily uncommon. Our priority is to ensure the chinnies once in our care continue to receive the same, if not better, lovingkindness that we promised them. And speaking of adoptable chinchillas...
We've had six rescue females on maternity watch since the summer who have successfully passed their four months mandatory time here. Only one of them had a litter. The result was a kit with one head and two bodies. It did not survive. We're excited to announce that the girls are now all available for adoption! We have a trio, a pair and a single with potential to bond with another female. Watch and wait for upcoming information about them. *cough* We have been very slow about keeping the available chins' information up to date on our website and we generally have many more available than we have listed. Please do NOT contact Whimsy inquiring about a certain color. While we understand the attraction, it is frustrating to see so many standard colored chins left behind simply because of the color of their fur! I can totally see a meme here...grey lives matter...all lives matter...
Reflecting back on the earlier statement about reclaiming space...the essay contest to win the farm has extended their submission date. The new date is October 31 where entries must be postmarked by the end of this month. Many of our loyal customers and chinnie friends have inquired as to how they can support our dream to win this property. The contest is based on skill and heart. We have submitted our essay which outlines our plans, confirms our strengths, and highlights our needs. If any of you are so inclined, you are welcome to submit an essay (plus entry fee and forms) on our behalf. Every entry counts towards their 5000 entry goal. *Sshhhhh* So even if your essay is secretly for your own benefit, it will still help ensure the contest runs. ;) Here's the handy-dandy link with all the information one could possibly need. Rock Spring Farm Essay Contest
Good luck and happy writing!
Happy September everyone!
For the month of August, one (1) chinchilla was surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted. We're getting very close to reclaiming space to have a clothes washer and dryer again. Our current chin count is 74 with 21 available for adoption and 3 long term boarders. One pair of boarders are males who have been together since weaning (and may be brothers, I don't quite remember the story). Boys can be incredibly difficult to keep together in the same home where female chinchillas live. It's been a very rocky three years... There are, however, rumors going around that all of our boarders will finally go home soon.
On a similar note, we've still have quite a few inquires for our matchmaking service. We only bond same gender cage mates. It is a myth that only male/female pairs are compatible. On occasion, a chinchilla bond doesn't last. There are ways to intercept a souring relationship and potentially salvage it!
Some signs to watch for are general discontent; chasing, kacking, spitting, urine spraying (in females), and barking are subtle clues that one or the other is unhappy. These minor reactions are harmless and simply a way to establish boundaries. Watch for escalation in these behaviors. The key point being how the underdog reacts toward his or her cage mate. Little nibbles around the face are grooming behaviors. Do not mistake these for aggressive biting.
Any event that causes physical or psychological harm will affect a bond. The more alarming symptoms of a shaky bond is; rising on the hind legs showing teeth or teeth chattering, chasing with fur pulling or biting, and ambushing (sudden unprovoked attacks).  At this point you can intervene. Keep reading for information about when and how to play peacemaker. 
The point of no return. Any bite that leaves a bloody mark is cause for concern. Sometimes it's difficult to see a bite on a chin unless it's severe. If you find a chinchilla acting strangely toward his or her cage mate, look carefully by blowing into the fur to check for wounds. Watch for telltale "wet marks" on the fur. Those usually signal an underlying wound. 
Chinchilla bites happen in typical ways. A bite to the back of the neck or throat is a kill stroke. These chins are INCOMPATIBLE. Do NOT attempt to keep them together.
 Another type of bite is "death from a thousand wounds". An aggressor will inflict multiple bites beginning with fur pulling that escalates to countless slashes along the backside. Once again, this is a completely broken bond. These chins are also INCOMPATIBLE and must remain separate from each other. Chinchillas are bipolar. You can have chins that have issues during the night and snuggle during the day. They are users. Like a codependent relationship, sometimes they will exhibit behaviors that appear completely irrational.
We have developed a method that helps chins recover from discontent before a major blowout. This method does NOT work with chins who have already drawn blood and inflicted wounds. If you catch an issue before it gets to the point of bloodshed, you can potentially salvage the relationship. Taken from parenting advice, we employ the Timeout Method.
We move the aggressor into a travel cage (with food and water). The cage must be small enough to fit inside the regular cage where the chins can remain close enough to interact, but safe behind bars. The aggressor stays in the holding cage for a minimum of 12 hours. If after 12 hours there are still signs of discontent between the cage mates, the underdog then goes into the safety of the holding cage. If after that time there are still issues between the cage mates, the aggressor returns to the holding cage. This separation allows for a cooling off period and keeps them safe, especially if no one is around to stop a fight. In general, this method helps divert an escalating fight before it becomes beyond repair.
The longest we've had to employ this method has been a three day interval. Generally a day or two is all that is necessary for the chins to calm down and forget their angst. For particularly uptight pairs, you may have to use the Timeout Method as needed. If after three consecutive days there is still significant trouble, give up. Seriously. Know that you have saved  your chins from a fight to the death. 
We have shared this information with others who have needed advice. We will refer any further inquiries to this post. If you feel bad for the chin in the holding cage and decide to cut the time out period shorter, you risk exacerbating the problem. If the aggressor is uptight, biting on the bars or trying hard to get out, you can be assured he'll use that energy and focus it on his target. Until the aggressor has settled down and submitted to the confines of the holding cage, there is still too much pent up aggression. 
As with human relationships, sometimes a chinchilla friendship just doesn't last. As chin owners we should always be prepared for a worst case scenario. Strongly bonded chins can lose their bond. This is sometimes due to a cage that is too small, inconsistent access to food and water, stress from moving, or the addition of new chinchillas in the home, particularly mixed gender groupings. Be ever watchful, be prepared, and trust your instincts.
Happy August everyone!
For the month of July, two (2) chinchillas were surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted.  Last month we turned away a whopping 19 requests for surrender! We've found that our adoptions have dropped sharply since our lawyer stepped in to give our contract more "bite". So we're looking in to softening the rules at bit. Watch for upcoming changes in our contract and please, spread the word about adopting recycled pets. 
Now, for those of you who already own a chinchilla or several, let us challenge your knowledge. We never take seriously those who claim to be long term chin owners. We have learned the hard way that radically different degrees of knowledge exist within the small subculture of those who own chinchillas (or any other animal for that matter). The internet is full of misinformation. We hope to dispel some myths and give good, sound reasons for our advice.
With that being said, we received an interesting email from someone this week who erroneously believed that vine chew toys were "treats". In a nutshell (no pun intended) a "treat" would be any food item that a chinchilla would not normally find in abundance in their natural habitat.
A chinchilla's natural habitat is high desert. Desert is a biome that simply refers to the degree of precipitation, not degree of heat! A desert biome grows vegetation that is high in fiber with very little moisture. So a chinchilla diet should also be high in fiber, low protein, with practically zero fats and sugars. If your chinnie is getting plump off of high sugar/ high fat treats, you run the risk of killing it with kindness by contributing to fatty liver disease. If you choose to purchase processed treats, at the very least be cognizant of the ingredients list! The closer to single ingredient items you can give, the better. The infamous pet store fare (certain flower-type green disks) generally contains a list of ingredients that clearly is NOT healthy for your pet.
With this in mind, we've made a handy-dandy food pyramid to show you the types and amount of foods your chinchilla should have. We would strongly prefer nothing from the uppermost level of the pyramid. This is the "treat" section. But if you must, remember: the smaller the section of the pyramid equals offering smaller amounts to your chin. 
The largest section at the bottom contains a list of food items that your chin can eat without restriction and is actually naturally healthy for them. Items from the lower portion of the list can excite your chin as a healthy alternative to treats if you hand feed them. It's all in the mindset. We know of one person whose chins get excited about wooden clothespins! So study the list, be smart and enjoy!
Happy July everyone!
For the month of June, ten (10) chinchillas were surrendered and zero (0) chinchillas were adopted. We have a whole lot of folks interested in matchmaking, but the majority of our current chins are either already pair bonded or are too hormonal to house with another chin. What we desperately need are people who want to adopt and spoil. Please spread the word.
On a totally different note I wanted to share with y'all the appreciation we have for those of you who support our rescue through your store purchases. To help you out, here are some helpful tips we've gleaned regarding how to place a mail order to your best advantage.

How to place an order the smart way.

As a single mother of four, it became very important to learn ways to manage and save money. As an educator, I like to share that knowledge. Shipping costs are determined by the size, weight and distance the box has to travel. When we receive mail orders, sometimes a slight modification can save a lot on the cost of shipping. For example, the package deals we offer make the best use of flat rate boxes that contain heavy, dense items that are usually cheap to buy, but expensive to ship. In those boxes we?ve combined the most popular items packed in a way that would maximize the use of the space therein.

Size. Items over 12? automatically require an oversized box. This means an oversized shipping cost, which may or may not be terrible. If size is coupled with heavy weight or distance, then the shipping cost naturally rises.  If the number of items ordered fills a box that is larger than 12?x12?x12?, that is also considered ?oversized?.

Weight. Heavy items such as pellets, dust, supplies by the pound, etc. can add a surprising charge to the shipping cost. Again, this is especially true if coupled with size or distance. Sometimes adding on a single bag of pellets to get an order to the minimum cost makes the shipping more expensive than the actual item! We have in the past let our customers know when certain items throw an order off when it comes to making the shipping affordable. Even though our recommendation to omit an item from an order results in a net loss to us, the peace of mind sharing the knowledge is priceless.  

Distance. Orders coming in within 300 miles of our facility are generally fairly inexpensive to send. Certain major cities are also a less expensive delivery option because the shipping route for the post office is short and direct.

Combined orders. Small orders placed often is actually more expensive to our customers in the long run. Monthly $30 minimum orders still carry the postal service base rate, plus the adjustments for size, weight, distance and handling. Sounds confusing, eh? Here?s an example: one customer orders a bag of pellets, rosehips, hay cubes and cookies one month, then the next month an assortment of chew toys. Instead of paying shipping twice on two very different orders, by combining the basics with the chew toys the cost of shipping could have been the same as just shipping out the first box! The cost of the chew toys added on to the heavy items wouldn?t make a substantial difference, but the cost of sending chew toys alone can nearly double the shipping price. Make more sense now?

Information ambushing. Incoming emails are sorted according to priority or difficulty. Our favorite emails are adoption inquiries, but store orders rank a very close second. When an order is cleverly disguised as a request for basic chinchilla care questions, it?s like throwing sand in Whimsy?s gears. Likewise, the assurance of sending in an order ?soon? after posing a difficult question really comes across as an empty promise. Once again, our website is chock full of information. It may take a little bit of digging, but so many gems of information are found along the way. ;)

Incomplete orders. Whimsy is not a mind reader. Vague emails requesting ?those red, round things? or ?some? ledges are frustrating. Our website has pictures and item names, use them. We can get your package on its way much, much faster if we don?t have to play email ping-pong asking for clarification. Also, please include the zip code or shipping address. The only address we know by heart is for Grandma and Grandpa.

I hope this information is helpful. With the above tips in mind, happy shopping! And no, we really don't ship live animals in boxes. :P

Happy June everyone!
For the month of May zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered, and seven (7) chinchillas were adopted.  Finally! There is space enough to bring in a clothes washer and dryer again! At least, that was the goal. Earlier this month we received two different mixed family groups of chins (including babies) as transfers from other shelter facilities. *sigh* We're full again. 
At this point we are seriously hoping to win the farm with the essay contest. HOWEVER, we learned recently that the tax hit will be huge on it. Talk is flying around of fees of about $160K or more. Well....that certainly is a lot less than a 600K mortgage! But it is far from "free".
Nevertheless, a farm at that rate is still a very good deal. Please keep us in your prayers and positive thoughts as we refine our essay for submission this week.  If submissions are turned in by July 1st, we're allowed an extra 1000 words in our write up. We're using that opportunity to expand our story.
If you want to help, enter the contest! It won't run unless there are close to 5000 entries. And yes! They will allow essay entries on behalf of another person or organization. *hint, hint* The contest ends in October with the winner announced around Thanksgiving time. Wouldn't winning Rock Spring Farm be something to be thankful for?
Please share the facebook link with your friends and family.   https://www.facebook.com/virginiahorsefarm?fref=ts
This week we received not one, but TWO requests for help from chinchilla owners with a cancer diagnosis. In both situations the owners were at a loss regarding what to do with their pets. Over the years I have known exactly one person who has put an emergency care plan in place to see to the needs of their animals. It's easy to assume family will step up to help, but are you sure they are not simply giving lip service?
We have taken in uncountable numbers of rescues of those who have gone ahead over the rainbow bridge.  We have also met some incredible people who have inherited pets this way and have welcomed them into their permanent home. To those of you who are the caretakers, thank you! To those who have never considered what to do in case of an ill-timed hospital visit or hospice care plans, please take this little note as an encouragement to do so. The future of your fur baby is in question.
Any time we mention chinchilla matchmaking on our Facebook page, we inevitably receive multiple requests for pairbonding help. Folks, it would take a book to explain our process. We actually have a unique, tried and true method that relies heavily on reading the subtle signs of chinchilla body language. It has taken almost a decade to develop and refine this skill. We carefully watch and learn the individual temperaments which gives Whimsy a good idea which chinchillas would be compatible.
Our pairbonding method generally takes 3 days and we like to keep a close eye on the new friendships for a full week. This helps to establish a good foundation of trust between them. If an original pairing doesn't show signs of promise within 3 days, we start all over again with another candidate. We know that if a bond doesn't occur within a week, it's not likely to happen at all. If a pairbonding is that difficult, it won't last! The slightest stressor or change can send an uptight chin into a fit of desperate attacks. Especially if the chins "eventually" grew to accept each other. 
One of the key components of matchmaking is to never allow an attack to happen in the first place. If the chins develop bad feelings towards each other, this serves as a negative, downward spiral. Urine spraying among females is normal and helps to establish boundaries. Subtle nipping during nose sniffing does the same. Dominance mounting is fine only if the one being dominated submits. Otherwise a fight for power can occur. If two chins turn into a tumbling mass of fur, do NOT push the friendship.
Also, never, never, never hold one chin up to another to sniff noses! When chins nose sniff, one has to yield. This is impossible when one or the other is held hostage in a person's hands. Trying to let them sniff noses from your hands actually forces the held one to exhibit a stance of aggression. (In this picture we actually used a mother/daughter duo who are already tightly bonded.)
This week we're trying a radical effort to pairbond 6 females. Only two of them are co-bonded already. We have one rescue who came from a male/female pair, one female who was recently rejected by her long-term cagemate, a baby whose mommy passed away, and another single female who was previously bonded, but lost her cagemate. We knew the rescue and the attack survivor would need some careful attention. They were placed within close proximity of the most gentle girls to help ease them into the group. By day three they were ready to move into their new shared cage. Here they are exploring their new, triple stacked Critter Nation cage.
If you would like to utilize our matchmaking service, please see the link on our "Services" page. As matchmaking can be radically different with each chin, please do NOT email Whimsy for pairbonding advice. With any pair or grouping, there is always the chance that a chin will reject or be rejected by his or her cagemate. Be prepared to have separate cages if you have multiple chins. Our next update will be about when chins attack.
Happy April everyone!
For the month of March, zero (0!) chinchillas were surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted. We have put a serious damper on intakes until we can reclaim some living space. As mentioned before, priority surrenders are given to those who have adopted our rescue chins and need to re surrender them. However, all of our specifications outlined in in link regarding the surrender process applies. Those who try to withhold the cage to recoup some of the costs are frustrating in the obvious disregard for the animal.
On a more positive note, we've learned of an amazing opportunity that can only be described as a dream come true. A couple living a couple of hours north of us are offering an essay contest to essentially give away their 35 acre farm. The property consists of 10 acres of fields and the remainder consisting of mature wooded areas complete with trails! That would provide ample acreage for our little zoo to grow our own hay and plant orchards to harvest wood for the chinnies!
 Would you like to join me in the rest of our dream? The house on the property has 3 levels. The ground floor/ basement would make a fantastic chinchilla shelter where we could keep the cages of boys and girls in separate rooms. Even though chins can smell a female in heat for up to a mile away, having them in different rooms would be much less provoking. Also, having the chins on their own floor would make it much easier to contain the dust and bedding apart from our living space. AND, it would provide us with enough elbow room to set up cages of the "proper" size as holding cages for the rescues. Better still, for those chinchillas who actually come with their cages, the additional space would allow us to keep the chins in their permanent cages and adopt them as "complete with cage". Which would help reduce adoption stress.
The property has an over-sized workshop complete with heat and air conditioning. That would allow the perfect year around spot for Whimsy to do her woodworking in a place other than in the dining room and kitchen.  The 18th century cookhouse would make a fantastic place to process and dry the natural woods we use for our chew toys. 
Since the property is relatively close, we could still continue our work with the special needs students who help assemble our toys.  Could you imagine the looks on their faces when they come for the year-end field trip to Whimsy's? 
Although we have our hopes set on winning the contest, it is open for everyone to try. The more people who enter, the higher the likelihood the contest will actually run. They would like to have at least 5000 contest entries. It requires an essay of no more than 1000 words (make sure to see the rubric for guidelines) and a $200 entry fee. The chances of winning are better then the lottery. ;) Get writing folks! Or at least say a little prayer for us. 
Happy  March everyone!
For the month of February, two (2) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. We still are overrun with chinchillas needing a forever home and have actually turned away inquiries for surrender until we can reduce our numbers to a more manageable one. We do, however, offer priority to chins adopted to us who need to come back.
It is especially frustrating that when we post ads about chinchillas for adoption, we usually  receive more inquiries for surrender! Call me jaded, but dealing with people is the most irksome part of rescue work. And while I'm on my high horse, we are not a government facility. We do not offer free healthcare. If your chinchilla is sick, broke a leg, etc., it is you, the owner's responsibility, to care for the animal whether you want to keep it or not. Credit cards make a wonderful resource for emergency needs. Relying on a rescue to take up the financial slack is just weak and irresponsible.
So spread the word, if you can't afford the vet, don't get the pet. 
Shortest post ever, but probably the most important one. 

Happy February everyone!

For the month of January, eleven (11) chinchillas were surrendered and seven (7) chinchillas were adopted. As usual, we had bunches and bunches of chins visiting for the holidays while their two-footed pets went on vacation. During this time we actually received multiple requests for matchmaking to enlarge the already happy families. New chin owners quickly discover whether or not a chinchilla is the right pet for them. Some people end up expanding their herd, while others decide to bow out and re- surrender their new pets. It’s sad, but a true fact of rescue work.

We all carry preconceived ideas about how life will be with a pet chinchilla. Someone who has owned one before assumes all chins act like their first pet. Someone who has never owned a chin may mistakenly think they are all cuddly, warm balls of delight. Chins each come with their own, individual personality and temperament, but chinchillas all share some very basic qualities. They are prey animals, so are prone to a flight (run away) response. Sensitive individuals may take this behavior personally.  Please know that a chin who runs away from you is not rejecting you. They’re just doing what is natural. Some chinchillas are born with a more inquisitive nature. Those make the best pets. A chinnie who eagerly comes forward for a treat, scratch on the head, or out for playtime is a joy to have. 

Another part of the joy of owning a new pet is in personalizing your relationship. Adoptive chinchilla owners often ask, “Is it ok if I change my chinchilla’s name?” For the most part, chinchillas do not respond to the sound of their name. (We have a couple of chinchillas here who would beg to differ.) In general though, your pet chinchilla is most likely to respond to certain tone of voice or to the sound of the treat bag opening!

Some chinchillas seem to absolutely bloom in the care of one person as compared to another and it doesn’t always have to do with quality of care. Remember your grade school experiments where you were instructed to provide the exact same water levels, light, food, etc. for a plant, but were instructed to sing to, love on and think happy thoughts towards one plant, and ignore the other? The atmosphere in which a pet chinchilla lives can also affect their temperament and health.

When you adopt a chinchilla, it’s the beginning of a whole new relationship. If changing the chinnie’s name helps to solidify that relationship, then we give it a thumbs up. And if your chinnie comes when called, you know you have a winner.  

Stress induced fur chewing.
Yup, we see a lot of cases that involve this and we love to see the transformation from a ragged, sad little animal to a full, fluffy, thriving one. 
Chinchillas will chew their own fur and the fur and whiskers of a cagemate when confronted by a stressful living environment. Some of the factors being; a cage that is too small or otherwise overcrowded, the wrong "kind" of cage, inadequate chew toys, no place to hide or an exposed cage (insecurity), lack of exercise, and general boredom.  
One of the responsibilities of a good owner is to see to the needs of their pet. Providing environmental enrichment is an often overlooked need. It is for this reason that our adoption contact specifies the provision of a "Whimsy approved" cage. We have seen, and continue to see situations where well-meaning owners simply do not know what a chinchilla truly needs. We have seen chins housed in hamster cages, glass aquariums, dog kennels, guinea pig cages with no ledges, small cages with only one or two ledges, free-ranged (!) and even chins housed in solid wood boxes and rabbit hutches.
Pet stores offer chinchilla "starter cages." A starter cage is NOT supposed to be permanent housing. Starter cages are intended to hold a single, baby chinchilla. They are too constricting for a full grown adult yet we have seen as many as 5 chinchillas in a tiny cage such as that.
With chinchillas, the bigger the cage, the better. The more interesting the cage, the better. The more stimulating the cage, the better. A chinchilla housed in a wonderland will rarely, if ever, chew their fur. If your chinnie has plenty of toys and ledges, they are less likely to take out their frustration on themselves or a cagemate.
Some of our chinnie friends take cage decorating seriously! We love to see the creative designs folks come up with regarding their accessorizing (especially if those accessories come from our store ;) ). We do our best to offer safe, fun and completely thought out ledges, bridges and hiding places. Just remember, wooden accessories are safe for chewing and will eventually need replacing. 
You can limit the ledge chewing and fur chewing by providing copious amounts of chew toys. A good rule of thumb for chews is to offer at least three toys at any given time: one hard (such as pumice based toys), one soft (shreddable type toys), and one mixed. Expect to rotate or replace chew toys or some of the components weekly. If your pet chinchilla isn't actively engaged in working their teeth, they can and do take it out on themselves or even the bars of their cage! Fur chewers tend to be nervous pickers. They thrive on the soft, shreddy-type toys. Even so, chinchillas' teeth grow in spurts. A chin who shuns pumice one week might destroy it in a heartbeat the next. (And yes, destroying their toys is a GOOD thing!)
A secure chinchilla is a happy chinchilla. A place to hide such as a hanging tube, hidey house or even a plain cardboard box helps. The cage placement in a room will also contribute to a feeling of security. Chins do best in a living room corner away from a doorway where they can survey the comings and goings of their human friends. This type of daily inclusion helps ease boredom and contributes to a well-socialized pet. Some chins actually enjoy watching TV! They are social creatures. Please remember to let them be a part of the family. Your life and theirs will be enriched by daily contact.
Here are Amanda and Thunder watching Animal Planet together.
We understand that no good pet owner intends to do harm to their pet. But often bad situations arise from owners who simply do not have good, solid advice to make informed decisions. We hope that we can offer that advice without demeaning or berating those who honestly don't know any better. If you know of a chin owner who can benefit from our webpage, please share. For the sake and benefit of the chinchillas first; we faithfully serve.
Well Happy January and Happy New Year everyone!
For the month of December, four (4) chinchillas were surrendered and four (4) chinchillas were adopted. For the year 2014 we had a total of 70 chinchillas adopted. This is far lower than last year's 111 adoptions. On the flip side, the number of surrenders has also decreased. We had 69 chinchillas surrendered for the year, which actually gives us a plus 1 on adoptions.
Of course the most friendly and prettiest chinnies are chosen first to go to new homes, but on occasion we do meet people with a true rescuer's heart who come looking for the underdogs. We love to meet people like that! People who want to rescue and not just "buy" a cheap exotic pet.  We also have a handful of supporters who recognize that the less adoptable chins are the ones who need the most help. In the majority of cases, the adoption fees don't even come close to covering the expense of caring for the surrenders while they wait for their adoptive families. Sometimes certain chins are with us for years before finding their forever home. Our sponsors help cover the cost of necessary supplies and even some extra special treats for their chosen chinnies.
So why do we do this? A sweet write up found on a horse rescue site (Central Virginia Horse Rescue) says it all: