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:
Happy December everyone!
For the month of November, six (6) chinchillas were surrendered and ten (10) chinchillas were adopted. It looks like the bio pages for the adoptables are working well.
Of the six chinnies surrendered, two pairs were ones that were previously adopted from us. It seems that 3 years is the average span of time a newbie chin owner keeps his or her pets before deciding whether they are the right pet for them. It is unfortunate, but even with careful consideration sometimes you just don't know if a human/pet relationship is a permanent one. It is disheartening to think about...
*shakes melancholy feeling off depressive mind-scape*
Ok, so on a more positive note, we know many, many more fantastic chin moms and dads who totally spoil their fur babies. When people submit orders to our web store, it's easy to see which people truly give their pets everything they would possibly need. Funny, but it seems that those who simply provide only the bare basic necessities are the first ones to give their chinchillas up....
G'ah! Back you depressive thought!
Ok, we're going to offer some mutual support for those who support our rescue. We like to be a part of the "pamper your pet" crowd. So in honor of Cyber Monday, with every order of $50 or more, Whimsy will include a special surprise. Now wouldn't you like to know what that is? But we'll let you in on a little secret, we do this year round, not just as a silly marketing gimmick. ;)
Happy November everyone!
For the month of October, three (3) chinchillas were surrendered and one (1) chinchilla was adopted. November is looking good though as far as a sudden upward trend in adoptions. We learned the hard way that having pictures and biographies of the adoptable chinchillas is really important.
Some months back Whimsy decided to delete all pictures and information about the available chins thinking that the extra work was worthless. Boy! Were we wrong! The adoptions plummeted. (Except for lots of local chin friends looking to add on to their personal herds). So in an effort to resurrect the bios pages, please keep in mind that we're doing our best to have the information up to date. Any available chins are shown on the website, but we usually have several others here who are either on maternity watch, still undergoing evaluation, or who represent behavior problems too drastic for the general adoptive population. Please, do not email Whimsy asking for pictures and information about unlisted chins. If we have the time to answer that email, we have the time to post them.
On a more positive note, did you know this is the anniversary of the creation of Whimsy's Menagerie? Yup! We're now in our 7th year and going strong. Our humble beginnings have led to some pretty major growing pains, but has been worth it. During the past years we have devoted a special room just for the chins, expanded that room, removed and replaced some major appliances to accommodate them, expanded again with a second room, reclaimed massive amounts of storage space in the attic, planted a small orchard, and built a workshop. And still, we're forever fighting for more space. It may be time soon to think about expanding again. Because, hauling hay to a climate controlled room upstairs is just sooooo last year.
Happy October everyone!
For the month of September, two (2) chinchillas were surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted. The number of chins adopted has significantly decreased lately. Fortunately, so have the number of surrenders.
Someone asked us recently if we are a no-kill shelter. The answer: not quite. On occasion we do receive a chinchilla with severe medical issues that are not treatable. Malocclusion affecting the tooth roots is one of the more common ailments. People also bring chins to us on the verge of death. A vet visit early on could have saved those, but when an animal is lethargic and showing signs of agonal respiration, there is really nothing more that can be done to save them. But for those who are treatable, we treat.
As a rescue shelter we also take in chinchillas with varying degrees of behavioral issues. Sadly, many of the behavior issues are human induced. One chinchilla came in recently whose former owner clearly did not know how to handle the poor thing. It became so cage aggressive that it actually learned to strike out at the hand that was feeding it-- literally! With many of our potential adopters being families with children or first time chinchilla owners, we make it our policy to NOT rehome aggressive biters unless someone is specifically willing and able to take on a huge challenge.
Like toddlers, chinchillas are natural nibblers, and we understand that an exploratory nibble is not a bite. However, there are some chins that have learned to use their teeth in a way that is more than one of curiosity. We do our best to rehabilitate and allow even the most extreme cases to stay as long as we have space for them. We have, however, expanded our chin room to two rooms and long ago gave up our clothes washer and dryer to accommodate the rescues. Sending chinchillas over the rainbow bridge is not something we regularly do. Rather, it's an act of desperation. Ours and other rescues constantly battle for space and resources to care for waves of unwanted animals.
Our support store has been our primary means of operating the chinchilla rescue. Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in unscrupulous, copy-cat venders making our original products for their gain. Some have even started fake "rescues" as a false pretense. Many try, but few succeed in the long term. Know who you support and support who you know. For those of you who have remained loyal customers: Thank you! For those of you who are new to our website: Welcome! How may we serve you and your fur babies?
Happy September everyone!
For the month of August, five (5) chinchillas were surrendered and eight (8) chinchillas were adopted. We had one rescue chin here for hospice who passed over the rainbow bridge. Now her cagemate is in need of a new friend.
Our summer and now continuing autumn has kept us so busy that it looks like the new standard for posts is nearly a month behind. :s We've been harvesting and processing wood to carry us through the winter. Not only have we completed the scheduled trims, we also managed to cut, harvest and process a whole pear and mulberry tree!
We've even had to catch up on some toy making at home since the student-crafters have been on summer vacation. Fortunately, school started back up this month and our schedule for working with the special needs students making our chinchilla chew toys is back on track. We have lots of new faces, names, skills and personalities to learn. It's always exciting to see how the students grow in their chew toy making skills from the beginning of the year to the end. We are fortunate enough to have some more seasoned students to help guide the newbies.
This month we also had the pleasure of having another booth at this year's Virginia Beach Pet Expo. Since this isn't our first cakewalk, we learned a few tricks to implement this time. The arm protectors went over well to protect our delicate forearms from scratchy chinnie nails. We also kept a tally count of how many times we heard people say, "It's so soft!" (385 times) or, "It's so cute!"(101 times). It certainly helped pass time. The voluntolds (AKA Whimsy's clan, not necessarily "volunteers") were all good sports about the event. Thanks kids!
We requested a corner booth near the Mega Adoption Area. Although we did not allow adoptions at the actual event, we did bring a couple of Critter Nation cages and 4 bonded pairs of chins for outreach. Our primary goal was to let our community know we exist, serving multiple states, and that we have countless chinchillas available for adoption (always). We did get a healthy handful of individuals who expressed interest in adopting, but time will tell. We also wrapped up the event having only made one enemy. One of hundreds, that's pretty good odds. The person in question made the mistake of telling an animal rescue worker that she lets her pets breed without restraint. That's akin to admitting to a police officer that you just committed murder. This confession doesn't go over well with Whimsy.
On a more positive note, as a bonus, the people at the Pet Expo invited Whimsy to speak on stage about chinchillas! Silly Whimsy, what she thought was supposed to be a 30 second mini commercial was in actuality a 30 MINUTE allotted speech time! Piece of cake. Whimsy winged it....and nailed it. It certainly helps knowing your subject. ;)
All in all September has been quite eventful. With that being said, our apologies to those who have waited more than 24 hours for their online orders.