When owners are struggling to connect with their chinchillas they often begin to feel discouraged. Owners will simply give up on reaching a bond with their pet's and stick to the basics... But what if I told you there was another chance? Try blanket bonding.
What is blanket bonding? Well, it's really simple. It's a method that helps make you and your pet more comfortable. Chinchillas being prey animals are by nature afraid of predators and large spaces. Humans are predators. Playtime is generally had in a large room or in a spacious bathroom... no real quality connections can be made quickly during this time.
Blanket Bonding is a method I have developed for bringing Chinchillas and their owners closer together. It’s something I have been doing for years before I even made the connection between what I was doing, and what it resulted in. I did some light research but didn't find anything that really matched what I had been doing, so I called it blanket bonding and started sharing. If someone else does something similar, that is great!
Generally, to "blanket bond" you need:
a pet - this is not chinchilla specific
a blanket, snuggie, cuddle pouch, etc
and safe treats - optional
With a blanket I would throw part of it over my shoulder and drape the rest across my arm, and form a basket or hammock with my free arm. That is where your chinchilla will go. Chinchillas generally are not fond of being handled and this forms some security... The prey animal is not being directly held ( captured ) by a predator, they can securely place their feet on the blanket and feel as though they're in control and they can burrow in the blanket to feel safe too. It's important to never restrain your chinchilla in the blanket or pouch though. This will have a negative affect. Your pet should be able to come and go as they please.
It may take some time for your chinchilla to get comfortable with the blanket bonding, short sessions will eventually develop into longer sessions. You can create some positive reinforcement by giving a healthy treat when your pet is in the blanket and when your pet comes to the blanket on his or her own.
Have I tested it out to form statistics and all that fun mumbo-jumbo? No. I haven’t. I can just tell you why I think it works, and let you know how it worked for us.
After a few days up to 2 weeks of doing this at play time, try it periodically throughout the day for a few minutes here and there. As time passes you’ll notice your chinchilla is much calmer when being held, and cuddled. All of my chinchillas have gone through this process with me. I can now carry them around without the worry of one squirming away. I can have Odin on my shoulder, while holding Darrell in my arms for over an hour and not worry that they will be stressing about being out. Snow White will come up to me when I have a blanket and nuzzle into it to take a nap, and Aurora feels secure having the blanket around her body.
Do not wrap your chinchilla tightly in a blanket. That is not blanket bonding. That is swaddling. Your chinchilla MUST be able to move freely. Allowing them to move freely, while being on/in the blanket builds their trust IMO. By restricting them, you are controlling them, and most chinchillas despise that. Swaddling will increase your chances of your chinchilla suffering from a heat stroke. Loosely like in my video will prevent this. Another saftey step would be to only attempt this if it is cool enough in your home. Signs of heat stress will be a lethargic chinchilla, with bright pink /red ears. If your chinchilla expresses these warnings it is best that you return them to their cage with a cool cooling stone for them. I have never encountered any heat issues with this method, but I want it to be clear that you will over heat your chinchilla if you do swaddle him/her.
Oh boy, what trouble am I getting myself into. It's almost 6 am and I still haven't gone to sleep.
I was asked to do a post about Choosing your chinchilla... which could easily be a book with 1 single subject but i'll try my best to make it short, sweet and simple... Bare with me.
Choosing a chinchilla depends greatly on what your intentions are.
Do you want to breed?
If you want to breed you should really be in contact with 1-3 breeders, talking about breeding plans and goals with your herd, looking at animals that will help you grow and start your herd off on the right foot.
- Keep in mind, there's a million other IMPORTANT things to consider about breeding BEFORE you start. It's not just about buying pedigreed animals though that's in the basic first steps.
Do you want a rescue?
If you're a "Adopt don't shop" person, then you'll want to contact your local rescues, shelters, and breeders in search of a rescue. Most chinchilla rescues are PACKED with chins waiting for furever homes. Breeders often accept rescues or surrenders and rehome them to pet-only homes.
If you don't have a preference on age or where the animal comes from, here's a few things to consider.
- Avoid online yard-sales or ads on Craigslist; More often than not they're Back Yard Breeders selling off their latest litter for a quick buck. These animals may be cheap but that's a trap... these animals often end up costing hundreds or thousands in medical expenses due to genetic traits passed down through their parents - a result of poor breeding. Yes... every animal deserves a loving home but paying a byb is supporting and funding the abuse.
- Consider all ages. Sure, a Kit looks cute, but they're only little for a few weeks and they go through developmental stages. A kit that once was friendly and seemed to like you may mature into a adult that is shy, skittish and hates to be handled. Owing a chinchilla as a kit does not give you any advantages with bonding, training or socialization, It's a wild card.
Adult chinchillas or retired breeders already have their personalities, so you know what you're getting.
- Consider a "damaged" chinchilla too. Chinchillas with amputations, missing eyes, nerve damage, fur chewed, or disfigurements can still make wonderful pets. Often these are the animals abandoned by owners who can't foot the medical bill to stabilize them or breeders who don't want the burden.
So if you want a chinchilla, determine what your needs are. What your intentions are. Then go from there. A reputable breeder should be willing to help you.
Leave a comment to make a blog post suggestion.
Today I decided I needed a place. A place to talk, vent, discuss, and just work things out in black and white.
I have friends and family in the real world that I could talk to , but not many that care too much about what is going on in the chinchilla world. So, to fill that void, I decided to give blogging a chance. I am very new to this. Hopefully I won't be too boring.
I asked what my first entry should cover, so here it goes:
How did I start with chinchillas?
On the wrong foot - and I am still tripping up.
When I was 8 or so I was given my first chinchilla as a birthday gift. I wan't to keep entries short so I won't go into too much detail, but as you can imagine as an 8 yr old I didn't have the knowledge of the whole world in my hands... I trusted my parents, and grew to trust the breeders I met.
We had gotten Slim, then Maybelle, and I was breeding in no time. Then Darrell & Aurora... followed by Snow & Odin... I was being mentored by a breeder I met on - you guessed it!- Craigslist! She told me what animals to buy, how to breed them, what to expect etc. She even sold me some... and when things didn't go as they logically should I started looking for advice elsewhere... I learned the sad truth that I was in fact a Backyard Breeder and I was on my way down a rocky path.
I had 3 choices. Continue, Correct, or Quit. I chose to correct my problems by having Darrell and Odin neutered, and kicking the BYB out of my life entirely - which was easy since she disappeared when Snow turned out to be something totally different than what I paid for -oh well.
When I first entered the chinchilla community I was shown no mercy. People ripped into me left and right and had no tolerance for my honest mistakes. It continued for some time until I made friends who have truly helped me. Most of those friends are still around to this day, still, helping me improve on LLC and my own choices.
My motivation to do better was my pets - and maybe my pride. I didn't want to do ANYTHING that would cause my pets harm, nor did I wan't to be known as some monster. Of course I changed my ways and did what damage control I could. I made a mistake, it didn't have to define me for the rest of my life. If someone defines me now by my past mistakes, well, that's their burden to carry not mine. I've forgiven myself and have moved on.
My motivation behind creating the group is to help... to help owners like me who started off on the wrong foot to improve. I can understand because I have been there myself. Horrible feeding habits, terrible cage, poor husbandry, ignorance - I've been there. I don't have much tolerance for someone who's closed off to the world and won't consider advice or accept fact... I don't have the time to spend on a closed mind when there's 10 others with open minds ready to accept my help - but I do at least try.
If I can help at least 1 owner improve, or even save their pet's life ... then that's good enough for me. I want you to have what I didn't have - proper guidance.
Where do I want to go with this?
This is something I struggle with. Do I need what I want or do I want what I need? I love "special" chinchillas and I want to provide a safe haven for chinchillas in my area - Central CA lacks in exotic rescues. I'd have a true purpose and think i'd be happy caring for the animals others abandon or simply just don't want to be burdened by... But that may just be a fantasy. I am not sure I could handle the consistent heartbreak that is rescue work.
I've also been interested in breeding since I owned chinchillas. . . but stopped because I was obviously in the wrong... but I did purchase Mallie as a possible breeding option but as a pet first since I wasn't in a state to breed. ( pedigreed ) and later purchased Tony too. ( Pedigreed ).
I went back and forth considering breeding the pair for months with Tony's breeder, my mentor ( a real one this time ) and some friends who at the time didn't have much against it.
But as many of you know, I had to say goodbye to my beloved Tony about 2 weeks ago - So much more about this will be addressed in a later post.
I do however have an interest of breeding for TOV whites or Brown Velvets... but at this time, everything is at a halt and up in the air while I do some real soul searching.
That's pretty much it for our first Blog post - Hope it wasn't too boring. Leave a comment for a post suggestion :)