Someone came by the rescue the other day and told me that the reason they got their chinchilla elsewhere (they were here for supplies) was because they had seen another ad that had specified that the chinchilla was good with kids. I've definitely seen that before, along with some variations, but I will not be including that in our ads anytime soon, and I would like to explain why.
So, the variations I've seen are...
--good with kids
--good with older kids
--good with dogs
--good with cats
--good with other pets
Here's the difficulty with saying that a chinchilla (whether in general, or a specific chinchilla) is good with any of those -- you could take the calmest, sweetest, chinchilla, and put it in front of a kid. A calm kid, where mom is showing the kid how to gently pet it, chinchilla is fine. What about a kid that's being unsupervised and sticking fingers in the cage? Maybe the chinchilla reaches out to test nibble. What about with kids that corner the chinchilla and scare it?
Same goes for dogs, cats, other pets. Some dogs and cats are harmless and wouldn't hurt a fly. Heck, my 50 pound sheltie is afraid of my white doves. For those sort of dogs and cats and other pets, maybe a chinchilla would be fine with them. Maybe not. But what about a dog with a high prey drive? Or a cat with a high prey drive? Or...?
See, notice, the difference isn't the chinchilla, it's the "other" that I'm talking about. Chinchillas can react differently to different people, different animals, what have you. I've seen chins that will sit nicely to be petted for one person, yet will bite another. No real difference, but the first person can reach right over and pick up that chin, no harm to the person. Does that mean the chin's good with people... or not? Depends who you ask.
I think, in talking about whether chins are good with kids, a lot of that depends... on the kids. How are the kids going to interact with the chins? Are they going to be supervised? Are they going to walk around with a death grip on the chinchilla, and then run to mom when the chinchilla finally has had enough and bites them? Are they going to calmly hold the chinchilla and pet it and make sure it feels secure in being held, so that its not afraid? The thing is, there's no way to know. Even the calmest chinchilla out there can be startled by something, or someone, and act uncharacteristically. They're creatures of habit, but that doesn't mean they can't change their behavior.
As far as the dogs, cats, other pets... I leave that one alone, because personally, I don't let my animals interact with the chinchillas. My dogs can go right up to their cages, sniff them, play bow, whatsoever, but that's the extent of it. My smaller dog would probably LOVE to play with one, including catching and eating one, if given the opportunity. The thing is, at the end of the day, chinchillas are prey animals. If they even SEE a dog or a cat or predator, they immediately think OMG. Even if you don't notice the reaction, they can smell the other animal, and it can make them uncomfortable. People ask me why I don't take ferrets in at the rescue. My answer has always been a sort-of-meant-to-be-funny, well, if someone opened every cage right now, without ferrets, none of the other animals would eat each other. Which is true, because everything I have at the rescue is a herbivore (or on occasion, omnivores like rats). I have had little kids here open many cages (often, without parent correction, tsk tsk) and I wouldn't want a loose predator in a room with prey animals. But see, that's exactly the point. I won't take in ferrets because doing so would be introducing a predator into a prey animal area, and would stress out the prey animals. So why do it?
Everyone can make their own choice about whether to let their chins roam free with their dogs and cats. They know their animals better than anyone, and that's their choice to make. However... believe me, I've heard enough stories of that sort of thing going wrong... which is where the no-ferrets-thing comes in. Not saying that your dog or cat intentionally stresses out your chins, but the chin no doubt sees that as a predator.
So to say, the chin is good with dogs and cats... well... hold on, let's back up a moment. If the chin was NOT good with dogs and cats, what would that mean? The chin launches itself, ninja-style, at the cat or dog and bites it? If that's the criteria we're using, then sure, most chins are "good" with dogs and cats. But for me, I wouldn't let them all out together, so that sort of negates saying that oh, they all get along.
Just my input for the day.