Thursday, 21 October 2010

Your Pet Chinchilla And Environmental Stress

Environmental stress can affect your pet chinchilla in different ways.  This type of stress results in either health or behavioral issues.  Your pet can experience the following:  anti-social behavior that includes biting, fighting, spraying urine, fungus, or irritation of the eyes.  Your pet can also feel angst toward other chinchillas, biting the fur, gnawing on their cage or even depression. 
Unless you know in advance, you won't necessarily detect that one of these actions can come from environmental stress.  You usually find out when the behavior or illness becomes a chronic issue.  If you are not aware of the issues of environmental stress, your pet may be more prone to suffer the after-effects.
If your pet is hyper, environmental stress will just compound the way they're already feeling.  In order for them to get a grip, behavioral rehabilitation would help them regain their footing.  Of course, if your pet is already easy-going, then rehabilitation is not necessary.  Environmental stress can affect how the chinchilla was treated, before and now.  Environmental stress can affect your animal if they were abused or handled badly.  This in turn, can cause them to exhibit anti-social tendencies towards the next owner. 
If your pet is experiencing boredom, this may eventually suffer from stress.  Your pet should be in an environment where there is some movement and noise.  On the other hand, enduring constant loud noise can take its toll on them, also.  It's better for them to have noise, but it should be at a moderate level.  This way, if they do experience noise out of the ordinary, such as people, thunderstorms, etc., they'll know how to handle it.  Your pet has to have a happy medium between the two extremes (boredom and chaotic noise).
Your pet will have to make adjustments if they came from an environment where there was boredom or chaos.  They'll have to make adjustments to the unfamiliar and unknown.  Like a human being, your pet will feel strange because all they know at the moment is the environment to which they were accustomed to.  It may take your pet at least a week to regroup.  You can help by putting them in a quiet room with some soft jazz music.  There should be no other pets in the house while your pet is getting acclimated to different surroundings, including the owner.
Giving your pet this transition time is crucial and imperative because if they came from a chaotic environment, they will have to learn to relax and if they came from a boredom environment, they must have time to get in the groove to handle noise in a timely manner.  If they take on too much too quickly, your pet can get overwhelmed, causing additional stress.
You will have to learn to be sensitive to their needs and get a sense of when they might be ready.  It's always best to start out small and gradual, then work your way up with your chinchilla.  This way, your pet can accept the gradual transition with ease.    

What You Should Know About Buying A Chinchilla

Chinchillas are available for purchase from breeders or pet stores.  When you purchase one from either place, you're probably getting a reputable one.  Beware of those who are amateur breeders.  They try to sell their chinchillas also, but it's usually in classified advertisements.  Personal preferences decide on whether or not they should buy the pets from breeders or pet stores.
If you do buy one from a pet store, make sure that facility has a reputable following.  The employees there should be knowledgeable about what you're looking to buy.  They should also be able to offer you tips and suggestions to keep your pet healthy.  If you're looking more on the breeding side, you should get one from a breeder.  They will be able to advise you on the different aspect of breeding, etc.
Buying a chinchilla from a pet store is not without its risks.  It's been noted that some pet stores take chinchillas that can't be bred or the skin can't be removed.  If you are considering one of these pets from the pet store, ask about the breeders and related sources, along with a history of how they were raised.  This way, if they have any problems, you'll know up front.
Then you can decide whether or not you want to still take on the task.  If you can' insist a breeder in your area, then a pet store is probably your only recourse.  If you have to get one from the pet store, ask how long have they been in the store's care.  If you do decide to buy one from there, consult with the employees about getting a contingency agreement.  This agreement allows you to return the pet if they don't pass a checkup.  You would also get a refund from your purchase. 
There are other factors to consider before buying a chinchilla.  Make sure your are prepared to take care of the animal.  This is something you have to be committed to and it takes time for them to nuture and develop.  Check and make sure that the chinchilla is healthy.  Check out their entire body for any abornormalties.  The animal's cage should be clean.  If it isn't, it may mean that it wasn't taken care of properly.  The chinchilla may be disturbed and irritable if it has been paired up with different animals, such as birds or rabbits.  This throws off their system during the day because chinchillas are night owls.
If you do buy a chinchilla, get one that is at least four months old.  Anything younger than three months is not ready to be trained.  Make sure the animal is in a cage that is located in a dry area.  They need to be somewhere where they don't have direct exposure to the sun.  They need to be away from heat and humidity because it can cause them harm.  If you find that the chinchilla has a nervous tendency when you get close to it, it may be a sign of being nervous and scared.  It's difficult to use these type of pets. 
It is important that the chinchilla have food, hay and water.  These are essentials that your pet should have in order to stay healthy.    

What You Should Know If You're Allergic to Chinchillas

Chinchillas are capable of emitting proteins that cause allergies.  This can happen through the presence of saliva or urine.  They are also known to shed their fur every few months.  The hay and dust that come from chinchillas seem to be the biggest factor in people that have allergies.  It is not advisable to have a chinchilla for a pet if you are allergic to hay and dust from them.
In general, warm-blooded animals with fur have proteins in their body.  When these furry animals wet their fur by licking, saliva sets in.  After it dries, parts of the protein flutter about and end up on different material in the home.
This is why even though people initially get a pet chinchilla, they have to give it away because the hay and dust proves too much for them to handle.  Not only do the owners suffer, but their pets suffer as well.  They don't get the hay or dust bath their supposed to get on a regular basis.  When they have to return the chinchilla it's called re-homing.  Basically the pet is sent back to be reassigned to a new owner and a new home.
It can get so bad that as an owner of the pet, being allergic to hay and dust can cause breathing problems.  There have been cases where some owners ended up using an inhaler for breathing purposes.
The owner can become allergic to the pet itself and end up with rhinitis.  Rhinitis is when the mucous membranes of the nose get inflamed with a mucous discharge.  You can get contact with allergens just by touching the chinchilla.  The transmittal of this (antigens) can cause you to rub your eyes or touch your skin.  The interesting thing about this is allergies don't always affect you right away.  Depending on your system, it can take weeks months or even years for the exposure to take affect.
It's not surprising, even if you've had a pet chinchilla for a while, to eventually develop an allergic reaction to the dust and hay.  Especially dust, since it can accumulate from anywhere.  However, if you should become allergic to your pet's allergy-causing proteins, you may have to consider re-homing (returning the animal so they can have another owner).
There are ways that you can minimize the allergic impact of dust from affecting you.  Keep your pet's cage covered with a sheet and in a room where the door can be closed.  When applying dust to your pet, don't turn on any fans.   The container should be your pet's cage and place the sheet around it.  Leave the room for about ten minutes, making sure you close the door on your way out.  It should take that much time for the dust to get situated. 
There are some different brands of bath sands you can use to reduce the dust from flying all over the place.  You may want to check it out thoroughly prior to purchase.  It's been noted that it can reduce the amount of dust ingestion; it may not be effective in cleaning your pet's fur.  It may take more than one pack and this just defeats the purpose of any cost-cutting measures.    

What To Do When Your Child Wants A Chinchilla For A Pet

Let's say your child wants a pet.  Ok, you think, "I can deal with a small puppy or a kitten". you think.  What if your child told you they wanted a chinchilla for a pet?  A chinchilla?  Yes, your child says again, a chinchilla.  You think, they probably don't know how to spell it, let alone pronounce the word. 
It looks like you'll have to do some research on chinchillas.  First, you'll have taken into account the age of your child.  Find out why they would want a chinchilla.  Maybe they saw someone else with one and couldn't resist.  Children like to compete against each other.  Are they old enough to take care of a pet such as this?  If so, will they need assistance?  If it's an exotic animal like this one, more than likely they will need your assistance.  They would probably need your assistance anyway because most children have a short attention span.  
When they find out the child's explanation for wanting this exotic animal, they have to think about if they really want it in the house or not.  Will they be good company for your child?  Will the animal and your child have a human to animal relationship?  Are they going to be responsible?  You'll have to make your child understand that caring for an exotic animal such as a chinchilla is very different than taking care of a puppy.  A chinchilla requires more maintenance.
Once the decision is made to get the chinchilla, there are other factors to take into consideration.  You must recognize and be ready for changes in your home.  Their sleeping habits are different.    Chinchillas are basically night owls, so if you or your child is not sensitive to noise in the wee hours of the morning, more power to you.  Chinchillas are known for making noise early in the morning, before the roosters do their cackling.  You will need to set aside a room for the chinchilla.
Chinchillas like to roam free, so they need plenty of space.  Or  you can purchase a cage for them.  The cage has to be big enough so they can roam around.  You must also provide the animal with wheels and chew toys to play with inside the cage.  The wheels are moreso for exercise than playing.  They cannot be still and must be able to have a few outlets.  They are allowed to get out of the cage each day for at least 30 minutes.  /When they're out of the cage, they must have supervision so they won't trip over anything or get their legs caught up in wires, etc.  Their legs and feet are very delicate. 
Then there's the task of keeping them clean.  You must use a dust bath to keep their fur fresh and clean.  This must be done at least once a week.  Keeping them from excessive heat and humidity is another issue.  The chinchilla must be kept at a comfortable temperature at all times.  Not too hot and not too cold.  The moderate temperature must be constant.  They can consume dried fruits, such as raisins, but only in moderation.  Their body cannot digest fried fruit every day.
After finding out all of this and you still want your child to have this exotic pet, by all means, give it a try.   

Water And Supplement Treats For Your Chinchilla

Like humans, chinchillas need water.  Their water should be fresh and changed daily.  This is crucial because if this is not followed, bacteria can grow and it would affect the chinchilla's health.  It's not a good idea to have them drink from standing water in a bowl.  They'll be sure to catch bacteria that way.  Also, they may accidentally tip the bowl over and then you have a wet mess.  A preferred vehicle for drinking water would be a water bottle.  The bottle should be placed on the side of the animal's cage.
If you do use a water bottle, it should be cleaned thoroughly to avoid any germs or bacteria.  Clean the entire bottle with hot water and have another one on stand-by.  The chinchilla will drink the water more if nothing has been added to it.  So, if you want your pet to drink plenty of water, it should stay as it is.
Since a pet chinchilla is special to their owner, it's not surprising that they would want to reward their animal with a treat.  However, the owner must know that this can only be done in moderation.  Too many of these can cause the animal's sensitive digestive system to go out of whack.  Not only will they gain weight, their lifespan would be short-lived. 
If you're going to give your chinchilla treat, give them raisins.  This is something that chinchillas love to eat.  They should only be given three to four raisins a week.  If the chinchilla is a baby or a young one, half a chinchilla will do.  Dried fruit, without sulfite preservatives, is fine.  Examples of this are a blueberry, a grape or a tiny apple slice.  If your chinchilla has diarrhea, you can give them wheat (spoon shredded size) or rolled oats minus the preservatives.  Raw, black oil sunflower seeds that are used for feeding birds are good for the animal's outer coat.  You should not feed your animal cabbage, corn or lettuce.  These would be heavy on the digestive system. 
When feeding them, the treats should be fed separately from anything else, including pellets.  If you mix them, they will not eat the pellets and just go for the treats instead.  If you give them something to gnaw on, let it be white pine or apple wood.  These wood types are good for their teeth and won't cause damage.  Pine boards can also serve as a bottom platform for a chinchilla's feet when they're walking on a wire mesh material in their cage.  Any other type of wood may not be suitable for them.
Stay away from cedar, plum, plywood, cherry, fir, spruce and any other wood that can be harmful to their teeth.  If you're not sure which wood type is good for them and which isn't, check your local pet store.  They can assist you with your animal's needs. 
If you have a young or expectant chinchilla, their diet will have to be altered from the normal regimen.  If you're not sure on what to feed them, check with your veterinarian or chinchilla breeder to get more information.  As you get acclimated to what your chinchilla needs, they can be assured of an uneventful and healthy lifestyle.

Want A Chinchilla As A Pet? Here's Where To Start

If you want a chinchilla as a pet, you can keep a domestic chinchilla.  They are known to have nervous tendencies and are night owls.  They like to stay up at night and be active.  They also don't care for someone holding them.  However, they can be friendly animals, but it will take a while for them to get used to their owner.  They're not easily coerced into getting close to people.   The owner has to earn their trust, just like a human relationship.
Chinchillas that become captive have a life span from 15 to 20 years.  /They can be noisy, making sounds in the form of chirping, barking and squeaking.  They use these noises to communicate and express their feelings.  If you are not an early riser, you may have to deal with them making noise in the wee hours of the morning.  If you are sensitive to noise while you sleep, a chinchilla may not be for you. 
It's ok to have more than one chinchilla of the same gender, as long as their personalities don't clash.  If they interact when they're still young, they have a better chance of enduring each other.  If they're older, it may take a little longer for them to form a bonding.  If you have a male and female in the same domain, they will have to be sterilized so to prevent procreation of offspring.  The chinchillas are so full of life, that it's necessary for them to have plenty of space for them to roam.
If you have a house, you should set aside a room just for them.  You can also house them in a cage, as long as it's large enough with items that they can play with.  They also require wooden toys (birch, willow apple tree or manzanita is acceptable) and chew toys to entertain them.  Please keep in mind that chinchillas should not have plastic toys because the plastic can damage the intestinal area.  The cage itself must have plenty of air circulation because they don't sweat much.
Getting too sweaty can cause them to have a heat stroke.  Don't keep the animals in the cage the whole time.  It's good if they get some outside exposure (at least 30 minutes a day, under the watchful eye of the owner).  They need exercise and get a feel of their outside surroundings.  
If the chinchilla gets wet, they have to be dried off rather quickly.  If not, their fur will collect fungus.  You can use a blow dryer on a low cool temperature and you can also use a towel (best choice). 
For their eating regimen, chinchillas cannot consume fatty foods.  They can only eat so much of green plants.  The best dietary plan for them is loose hay.  They can also have a raisin or other kinds of dried fruit, but only in moderation.  Don't give them fresh vegetables as their stomach can expand and cause a fatal reaction.  When they eat, they do so in small portions and they also drink water in small sips.
They can drink water from a water bottle and the water must be fresh at all times.  Because they can't ingest a lot of fat in their system, nuts are to be avoided. 

The History of the Chinchilla

This exotic animal was named after the Chincha people of the Andes region.  The Andes Mountains in South America.  Chinchilla actually means "little Chincha".  Back around the close of the 19th century, the animals were known for their thick and soft fur. 
There are two types of chinchillas.  The chinchilla brevicaudata, which is also known as the Bolivian, Peruvian and Royal chinchilla, has a short tail.  They came from the Andes Mountains in the regions of Chile, Peru and Bolivia.  This chinchilla was on the verge of becoming extinct and were known for the exquisite fur.  Even with the fur, the population of these animals continued to decrease.  The chinchilla lanigera, which is also known as the Chilean, Coastal or Lesser chinchilla, has a long tail.
This species of chinchilla can be found in Chile.  Even though the word "lanigera" means "having a woolen coat", they are covered with hair instead.  The hair is soft, sleek and sticks to their skin.   There are three types of chinchilla lanigera:  The LaPlata are muscular, round and have a short head.  The Costina has longer hind legs, slight hump and a pointed nose.  The Raton is similar to the LaPlata in they way it's structured.  It has a pointed nose and they are of a smaller size.
Burrows or cracks in rocks are where chinchillas reside.  They can jump very well and at least up to 5 feet high.  When residing in the wild, chinchillas consume fruits, seeds, plants and small insects.   As far as breeding is concerned, that can take place at any time of the year.  When the female chinchillas do procreate, their average length of pregnancy is 111 days.  For a chinchilla, that's a long period of time compared to other animals in that group.  Because their pregnancies are so long, their offspring are born with their eyes open and their body full of fur.  At the time of delivery, their litter is usually one or two, with the two more times than not are twins.
The first try of breeding started in 1895.  In that same year, the first animal was born and each year two litters were born.  In the summer of 1896, an unknown disease halted the breeding process.  By then, there were 13 animals and all of them succumbed within two months time.  Around 1918, there was a resurgence of chinchillas.  A man from California was interested in trapping chinchillas so he could raise them as pets.
At first, the Chilean government refused, but as the man kept asking, the government relented.  During three year period, only eleven chinchillas were captured.  They were brought back and bred in the United States.  This process started the first chinchilla farm.  This also started the process of the domestic chinchilla.
The interest in chinchilla fur started in the 16th century as international trade.  Chinchilla fur is prevalent because it has a soft texture.  Because of even color across the board, people like to use it for lining large pieces of clothing or small pieces of clothing.
The fur can also be used to create an entire large piece of clothing.  So many chinchillas must be destroyed in order to make a coat because their skin is so small.  Because of this, one of the species became non-existent and supply for the other became scarce.  People still hunt and kill domestic chinchillas to create clothing, but wild chinchillas are no longer targeted for hunting.