Rules and Expectations of a pet chinchilla
These are just a few hints of what you might expect your chin to do, and also a few things you should keep in mind as a new owner to get along peacefully.
- 1. DO NOT, unless you absolutely have to, house your chin in the same room you sleep. Their playtime is your bedtime, and they will make enough noise to keep you awake. Mine likes to race around the cage (it's amazing how loud metal ladders bounce when they're jumped off of), chew up everything, and push his food dishes around at night.
- 2. Remember that chins are rodents, and their front teeth constantly grow. So they chew up anything within their reach. Don't get upset when your shoelaces get ratty or your books get ripped up. Keep valuables out of their reach or at least covered up.
- 3. Chins will generously leave you *presents* everywhere they go. Be prepared to scoop up little poos all over the room. They don't smell, and they're just dry pellets, but when you put your shoe on and feel the unmistakable little pebble roll under your foot, you'll know what I mean!
- 4. An unsupervised chin is as good as dead. They can be extremely mischevious and sneak into spaces you never thought possible. Their fur makes them look a lot bigger than they are. If you're not watching, they could eat something dangerous or chew on electric cords.
- 5. Respect your chin's personality. Not every chin wants to be cuddly and lovey all the time. Some, like Duncan, would rather play and chew and run than be cutesy. If I need to pick him up, it's a kicking, fur-flying frenzy. If your chin is more playful, give it space to do it's own thing and come to you on it's terms. Never force your chin to do anything it doesn't want to, after all, it's not a dog!
- 6. Respect your chin's natural instincts. They are nocturnal, so feed and play at night. Try to stay out of the room they're in during the day, or at least quiet. If you wake it up during the day, it will be stressed out, irritable, and more likely to ignore you and hide during playtime.
- 7. Try not to chase your chin. If I need to catch Duncan, he automatically turns it into a game of keep-away. Once they know you're up to no good, they won't return to you willingly for anything. If you have to catch it, try holding a blanket and covering them with it. I take a big zip- up sweatshirt, put my hands in the sleeves so I don't have to grasp it, and watch his runaway pattern. He usually hides under the desk, bolts across the room, then up over the bed. If I can get him to run away from the bed, I catch him coming around the corner. But beware, there's a stink bomb involved. If they get scared, they could emit a stink into the air that smells like burnt almonds and it's really pungent and will hang in the air for a while. When Duncan stinks, he tends to hide under the bed, then you go to look for him and get a lungfull.
- 8. Spoil it rotten! What fun is it to have the basics only? None for the chin. I just got Duncan some new chew toys and you would think he never saw one before. You have to keep giving them new things, whether it's a treat or a toy, to keep them happy and alert. Try giving it a plain cracker as a treat, or a new chew block, and watch how fascinated it is. I give Duncan chew sticks called 'Bark Bites' that have a strip of bark down one side, and he loves them just because of the bark.
- 9. Don't get mad at the chin for something that's not it's fault. They can't be disciplined and understand why, and they can't be trained unless they feel like listening at the moment. If it chews up your books, move the books because the chin will find a way to keep going back to them. If it won't come to you, give it space and stop forcing it. NEVER hit your chin! They will soon see you as an enemy they should be scared of and won't trust you for the world. If you can't handle it, get it back into the cage until you find a solution or give it to another owner. Chins are not for people who want a pet that will obey that they can control.
- 10. Spend time with your chin! Even if you just sit and watch it, you'll be amazed at how energetic they are. You might see things you would normally miss out on, like a big yawn and stretch, or it could decide to actually use the litter pan, or you could see it clean it's whiskers. Chins have such big personalities! Get to know your chin. Does it like to be rubbed behind the ears or on the belly? Will it follow you around in the cage if it hears the treat box? Does it respond to music? Owning a chin should be a wonderful experience, not a questionable one.