Friday, December 22, 2017

Consideration for Other People's Time

I swear, I will stop writing about flaky people, but...  it's been insane lately.  Tis the season for insane adopters.

I had one person who was going to stop by for food.  Don't know what came up, but they didn't let me know... so I sat home waiting for them (when I should have been doing Christmas shopping)... eventually texted and asked if they were coming, oh, no, they couldn't, they'd come another day.  Let me know, that's all I ask.

Another person asked about cages and accessories for chinchillas on a text message.  I let them know what I have, and said I could get pics of the used ones... no response.

Another texted asking if they could come by Friday or Saturday to get a chin.  I told them available times (which is most of both days, with the exception of a few hours, here and there)... no response.

Another texted asking if I still had the chinchilla available that I posted on craigslist.  Well... I post a lot of chins on craigslist, so I texted back, asking which one it was, as I've posted several.  No response.

Another texted (this should sound familiar, if you read the blog):

Them:  Hello how you doing today, am texting regarding the 1 Year Old Liver & White American Male Guinea Pig you posted for sale

Me:  Fine, you? 

Them:  Hello how you doing today, am texting regarding the Female Chinchilla you posted for sale

Me:  And the guinea pig?

Them:  Good I would love to know it's firm asking price

Me:  Yes.  Let me guess, next you're going to ask me what's the asking price

*crickets*  That's what I thought.  Busted.


Them:  Young Violet Female Chinchilla Looking for Home -- super sweet! $250, still available?

Me:  Yes

Them:  Ok, I've checked out your post...

...yadda yadda... wants to pay with scamming cashier's check and then arrange for pickup, AFTER I text them with more pics and provide my name and address so they can overnight payment.  Uh-huh...

Then another, messaged me on fb, asking if I have available chins.  Yes I do, so we talk a bit, I ask what she's looking for, she says preferably a male, I ask what age, she says preferably younger.  I tell her what colors I have, she asks what prices, I list the prices for her.  She says ok cool, she's interested, she'd like to come today.  Cool, so I tell her appointment times, she asks for the address, I give her the address, she says how about this time?  Because she's on a different time zone, I ask her, this time, as in my time?  Her response?  "I'm sorry, I'm going to go with a different gift idea."  *bashes head against wall*

This wouldn't be so bad... except this is all within yesterday and today, and it's not even 10:30 am as I write this!!  All I ask is that people be considerate.  Just like all of you, it's the holiday season for me as well, and I have a ton to do as well... and if at all possible, I'd rather spend the time with people who are serious about adopting, and not the people who want to waste a ton of time and then back out or not show up at the last minute.  Be considerate of other people's time.  It's not that hard, really.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Rats At the Rescue

You know, I always say I'll take in whatever animals I have space for and am able to care for... but I'm starting to see why the local rat rescue is always over their head and why most places won't even entertain the thought of taking in rats.  It's not so much the rats themselves... it's the potential adopters.

Now, I know you've heard me go on and on about good adopters and bad adopters, and of course, with rats, there's good and bad as well.  We've had about half the baby rats find their new homes, but the remaining ones... the only inquiries about them have been from, in my opinion... overly-enthusiastic-about-what-rescues-can-accomplish-and-afford-adopters.

I had one person who inquired about the rats, and wanted the two that were the most friendly and outgoing.  I shared with them that all the females seem curious, social, and outgoing, but of course, that there are certain ones that will come to the front of the cage first when you open it, versus others that hang back.  I mentioned, some will crawl into your hands sooner, versus others that take a more relaxed / cautious approach.  Different rat, different personalities, just like different chins, guinea pigs, you name it. 

So, they mention to me something about my ad saying they're friendly and outgoing and whatnot, and apparently my description of how only some of the rats come to the front right away wasn't friendly / outgoing enough to meet their standards for using those words.  They asked about what I'd written, and I mentioned that when the rats were in the previous home, they had informed me about the rats personality and how they'll jump into your hands (and they will... with enough time to explore and creep out, cautiously) and so on.  So, the potential adopter asks -- well, why aren't they at the foster home any more?  Well, the main reason -- because it wasn't a foster home -- it was just the home that had the mother rat.  They had the room to separate the sexes, but smaller cages (not that we have huge ones, but theirs were maybe half the size or thereabouts), and they wanted us to find homes, not the other way around.  So I told the person, you know, they only had them until they were weaned and then the rats were brought here, and I explained, you know, that was a home with mostly adults, this is a rescue with a lot of people in and out, they may be more shy because it's a new, busier environment, and let's not forget, they haven't been here all that long.  So the person comes back with, "don't you hold them?"  Yes, but with 175+ animals at any given time, not every animal, not every day.

Needless to say, that ended the conversation.  This isn't a foster home here with 2 animals and hours upon hours of free time daily.  My breeding / show chins are here, along with about 90 other animals (chins, rats, guinea pigs, etc), plus chins that I'm chin-sitting, plus the rescue geckos right now (and more to come).  Would I like to have a ton of time to handle the animals more?  Well sure!  But there's only so many hours in the day, and if you follow this blog, you know that I'm always behind on something, whether it's emails or orders, or trying to madly get ready for an expo... at the moment, there's just not enough hours in the day to handle every animal even for 10 minutes.  Even if you figure there's 75 animals that could be, at any given time, available... 75 animals at 10 minutes each per day = 750 minutes... divided by 60 minutes in an hour = 12.5 hours JUST to handle the animals.  Sorry... just not do-able.  Even if you halve that and say 5 minutes an animal, we're still talking about over 6 hours a day... I'd have a hard time cramming an extra hour in per day.  That's why I do try to foster out the animals that really need that one-on-one attention, but for the ones that don't need rehab, they are here and get handled when possible.

The other memorable person asking about the rats wanted to know (1) if they'd been vet checked, (2) if they'd had bloodwork done and been checked for the seoul / hantavirus, and  (3) if we'd ship them.  Also, if you follow along, you know our animals go to the vet when needed, but not just for wellness checks.  If they're ill, they don't leave here until they are well, simple as that.  Well... a vet visit at the local vet is $59 per animal, $79 per animal at the exotics vet.  Let's say just for fun, we had all the rats checked out.  For this sort of thing, we'd likely have to go to the exotics vet (as I'm pretty sure the local vet can't do this type of bloodwork), so $79 x 11 rats = $869.  Bloodwork is $125 per animal, plus the virus check is another $70 per animal, so a total of $195 per rat.  $195 x 11 rats = $2,145.  So, vet visit ($869) plus bloodwork / virus check ($2,145) = $3,014 for 11 rats.  5 of them already found homes, bringing in a whopping $45 in adoption fees.  Only $2,969 to go to break even!

Of course, if the rats warranted vet visits, they would go in.  But personally, I think with adoption fees of one rat for $15 and every additional for $5... to me, that doesn't warrant spending over $3000 in vet bills, when the rats seem healthy.  Yes, I understand, it checks for wellness, and whatnot, but... the rescue isn't a money-maker.  If someone would like to give us a grant for a few hundred thousand a year (or find us a vet that wants to donate their time and wellness exams), we can undoubtedly vet check every one of the 250-300 animals (chins + others) that pass through a year.  Until then, it's just not do-able.  Especially not for the rats, when many people balk at the whopping $15 adoption fee, and yet want oodles of vet care provided for a healthy animal first....while still complaining over $15. 

I'm sure there are rescues out there, rat-specific rescues, that may test every rat for the virus.  That may vet check every rat, and may spay / neuter as many as possible.  That's great.  Really.  But we are a chinchilla rescue, and when we get in other animals, we do our best, and provide good quality care, but this is above and beyond what we are able to do.  While the rats (and chins & other animals) are here, they are well-loved, have good food, clean water, clean cages.  That's more than we can say for many of these animals in their previous homes.  They are cared for well here.  They are treated for illnesses and medicated.  They are petted, and given treats, and loved.  But if you want a health-tested rat... I feel like it's like getting a dog.  If you want a puppy out of registered, genetic-health-tested parents, be prepared to pay for it.  Hundreds of dollars, many thousands of dollars.  None of that is cheap.  If you want a puppy from a humane society for $50, well, it comes with a lot less.  Healthy, most likely, but not with all the bells and whistles.  Same for these small animals.  That is all.   

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Chinchilla Food

I can't even begin to tell you how many people call me, wanting to pick up chinchilla food, and then when I ask, which chinchilla food do they want, they tell me "regular chinchilla food."

Hahaha.  Well, both Mazuri and Tradition are pretty regular, normal, chinchilla foods. 

Usually, the people can tell me what it costs ($1.25/lb vs. $0.75/lb) or what chinchilla they got from me (if that's the case), but if not...."regular chinchilla food" means really nothing. 

I make sure to tell all the adoptive homes which chinchilla food that their chin is eating, and I'm sure for some people, it may be lost in the wealth of info they gain when adopting... but this is a useful thing to remember!  Ideally, chinchillas should not have their food changed suddenly, as this can cause digestive upset, and potentially loose poos, so whether you've got a chin from here or from elsewhere, try to remember whatever food you are feeding, and continue your chinchilla on that food and try to avoid a cold-turkey switch to another chinchilla food, whenever possible.

Monday, December 18, 2017

One More Quick Word On Deposits

I know, I know, I've yapped enough about this.  But let me explain one more time, with a good example this time, why deposits are so important, especially when dealing with wishy-washy people.

I had someone message me asking about one of our chins that was under evaluation, pending their pregnancy watch being finished.  They had asked to let them know if it turned out that she was or wasn't pregnant, and if she wasn't, they were wanting to know when she was available and possibly adopt her.  So the time came, and I messaged them and let them know.

They asked about coming a few days in the future, and I told them, they day they'd picked was the day we'd be at the expo.  I told them, I could bring the chin with me to the expo and they could pick it up there if they wanted, but that I'd need a deposit to do so (we hadn't yet started talking about deposits in general).  Their response was that they'd rather pick up the chinchilla at the house, as that's closer to them (perfectly fine).  If you've been following along in these blog posts, you know about how I've said we're not going to hold without a deposit anymore.... I told them, picking up at the house would be fine, but if they wanted to wait almost a week to pick up, I'd need a deposit.

They asked, would they get a refund if they put down a deposit and didn't like her?  I told them, no, and explained, the deposits are non-refundable and are only for people who 100% want to get that specific chinchilla.  I explained, that is because I am holding that specific chinchilla for them and preventing anyone else from adopting it.  I further explained, with the expo a few days in the future, that this chinchilla would be a prime candidate for going to the expo, if she didn't have a deposit on her, just to let them know that if they waited too long, she may not be available.

Their response was basically something along the lines of:  well, why can't you just hold her until after the weekend, knowing that I want her?

Well, wait, back up.  Remember the part where they said they would want a refund if they got here and then didn't like her?  Oh yeah.  So I explained to them, you know, you say you want her, but you also say you may not like her, so you're not 100%, so the deposit's probably not for you then.

And see, this is where it gets murky.  In the past, I'd hang onto her until past the weekend, and have the person come.  If the person adopts, great.  However, if the person doesn't adopt... well, I could have taken her to the expo, and possibly found her a home there.'s a toss up.  Be nice, and possibly loose out on a good home, or have stricter policies, and weed out the people who aren't 100% sure. 

Here's the thing.  There's usually 20-30 available chinchillas here.  We're not talking about 2-3 available ones, where if this one finds a home, I may not have another that fits what people are looking for.  With how many chins are available, that's not the case.  If the one someone likes finds a home... there are others.  Not saying they want those others, but there ARE others.  I hate to prevent one from getting adopted, due to a no-show or due to someone getting here and deciding on another chin, when that one could have been in a loving home already.  There's plenty to choose from.

Oh, and since I'm sure no one noticed, I already went and changed the sales policy.  No reason to wait until 2018 with the amount of people who want the critters held until after Christmas just on their word that they'll show up.  Sorry, not sorry.  I'm trying to find the animals homes, not keep them here forever.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Senior Animals

I've had a lot of people asking about fostering lately, which is always a good thing, but unfortunately, we don't have endless cages to lend out!  I do want to talk about fostering and senior animals, but first -- if anyone has any cages -- whether chinchilla cages or smaller, more like guinea pig type cages, that they'd like to donate to the rescue, we'd definitely appreciate them, as we could get more critters fostered out this way!

Just so we're all on the same page, ideal cages would be either multi-level chin cages or the smaller, about 30 x 18 size guinea pig cages, something like these:

Chinchilla cages are good as well, but these work for a lot of fosters too, because, as they are smaller, they are easier to transport and maintain.

Anyway, back to fostering.  So, a lot of people have asked why we're not fostering out the young chinchillas, and the main reason for that is that they're usually here such short periods of time, that it doesn't make much sense to have them leave and then get adopted from the new home in a few days.  Also, with the young chinchillas, we get a lot more people who want to see several of them... so it's easier for people to come here, where they all are, and handle multiple chins, and then pick, as opposed to going to multiple places.

So, that begs the question, what animals would I like fostered out?  That would be the less adoptable adults and the seniors.  Why?  For the less adoptable adults, often they need more time and effort being handled to become more comfortable with people, and in a foster home, they can get more of that one-on-one attention.  For the seniors... honestly, some of the older ones live out the rest of their lives at the rescue, and I'd rather they do that in a home where they can have more attention and love.. at least, more than they might get here, being one of many. 

We actually had four senior rats at the rescue.  Note the word: had.  They came in this past summer, and even at that time (which is now 6 months ago), they were all either 2 years or 2.5 years old.  Well... most rats don't live past 2-3 years, which makes these guys pretty much unadoptable.  In fact, if we get rats any older than 18 months... they are super hard to find homes for.  So, with these guys, they were basically just chilling here.  Every so often, people would ask about them, but I didn't have them listed... and then the other day, one of our previous rat adopters came to look at some of the baby rats that we have available, and saw the cage of boys.  In an awesome stroke of luck, they called their husband and the family agreed to take on all 7 of the rats! (the four adults and 3 male babies)  YAY!

Of course, this is sort of the exception to the rule, but this is AWESOME, because now they can enjoy their time in a big cage, enjoying life, for however long they have left.  I got an email after she got home...she was hoping to introduce the four seniors to the 3 babies... and the email said,"Introduction went great! All of them are snuggled up together! It was meant to be!"  Also awesome.  And look at the adorable pic:

Happy Rat Pile

So, if you're thinking about fostering, remember, the ones most in need of your love and care aren't necessarily the young ones, but rather, the older ones that either need help trusting in people, or the seniors that could use a nice retirement home... in case another doesn't come along.

Oh and psst... we do have an awesome senior rabbit in one of our foster homes that would love his forever home for Christmas.  Check out Ziggy on our website!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Vet Checks

I've increasingly over the years had a lot of people asking if all the animals are vet checked.... so I wanted to touch on that quickly.

Small animals -- guinea pigs, chinchillas, rabbits, etc -- are not cats and dogs.  They do not need yearly shots or even yearly wellness checks.  Quite the opposite actually -- you could bring a perfectly healthy small animal to the vet, and the vet visit could stress the animal out... and you could take home an animal that's now starting to develop loose poos or go off their feed... due to the stress of the visit.  Also, they could pick up an illness at the veterinarian's office (did you know that chinchillas can catch bordatella and other animal illnesses) and bring those home as well.  So, the critters will surely go to the vet if they are sick and need something that only the veterinarian can provide... but they don't just go for wellness exams.

We do have a health guarantee that comes with most of our animals.  The exceptions to the health guarantee are animals that have known health problems that aren't fixable with medication (think, cataracts) or seniors (chinchillas 8+).  Our health guarantee is available online, or the relevant part of it anyway.  It's under the "Guarantees and Returns" section on our Chinchilla Sales Policy page, you can find it here

What it comes down to is this... if I think an animal is sick, I won't be listing it up for adoption, and it sure won't be going home with anyone, at least not until it's well again.  If an animal has already been listed for adoption and becomes ill, despite people possibly contacting and wanting to adopt, the animal will not leave until it is well.  End of story.

By not doing vet checks, it's not that I don't want to ensure healthy animals.  Rather, it's the opposite.  Taking small animals to the vet when there's nothing wrong has the potential to cause harm, and of course, there are real-life horror stories of breeders taking a chinchilla to the vet, it picking up bordatella there, and that illness wiping out most of their herd.  Oops.  I'd rather that not happen here... so we don't take each and every animal for wellness checks, but rather have our health guarantee instead, to ease people's minds that the animals they are getting are healthy.

I'd assume, also, that people wouldn't adopt an animal and take it home if they didn't think it was healthy... but I suppose that could be a discussion for another day...

Friday, December 15, 2017


I see these coming from a mile away, but in case you ever feel like listing something for sale online, let me share with you how these work, so you can spot them.

Say these are my ad titles that I use for hoobly or whatever: 

3.5 Year Old Standard Grey Male Chinchilla -- Ash
2.5 Month Old Dark Ebony Male Chinchilla Kit (Baby)

The first text will go something like this:

Hello, how you doing today, am texting regarding 3.5 Year Old Standard Grey Male Chinchilla -- Ash  OR Hello, how you doing today, am texting regarding 2.5 Month Old Dark Ebony Male Chinchilla Kit (Baby)

They always copy and paste your ad title.  Dead giveaway that it's a scam.  Never ONCE has anyone ever done that when it's a legitimate person interested in an animal, and mind you, I re-home 200-250 per year.  Not once has a legit person copied and pasted like that.

Doesn't matter what you say to them, the next text goes something like this:

Good, I would like to know if it's firm asking price OR  Good, I would like to know what the asking price is

Because you know, they found your ad, but they couldn't be bothered to actually read it, because... oh they're not really interested... they just want to scam you.

Again, no matter what you say (and I know this, because I've started messing with people and saying, "the price is listed on the ad"), they will say something like:

Ok, I am pleased with the asking price.  

... I didn't say what it was, and there was no way that in 2 seconds they found it that quick, unless they were staring at the ad (in which case, why even ask what the price was?).

Then they go on about how they want to mail you a certified check, they're currently out of town, so they need your name, address, phone number, email, etc etc, all your info to send you this check, but they'll pay you some extra for your troubles, yadda yadda.  Someone will come pick up the animal for them, but first, you need to cash this check....

That's about as far as I ever get, because I usually respond with, "we don't take checks" or even, "the animals have to be picked up by the person they're going to live with."  And like magic, I mean... certified check must be the ONLY way to pay for these people, cause that's when they vanish.

Today was an extra good one though....

Them:  Hello how you doing today, am texting regarding the 3.5 Year Old Standard Grey Male Chinchilla you posted for sale
Me:  Ok, you want to come see him?
Them: Good, I would love to know it's firm asking price
Me:  Yes
Them:  Hello how you doing today, am texting regarding the 2.5 Month Old Dark Ebony Male Chinchilla Kit you posted for sale
Me:  You just texted me about a different chinchilla
Them:  Actually my son saw the ad and tell me about it, so I would love to know the actual price myself okay
Me:  They're all on my website, -- pics and info
Them:  Hello how you doing today, am texting regarding the 2 Month Old Silver Mosaic Female Chinchilla Kit you posted for sale
Me:  Any others?

I always respond back, as if I'm talking to an actual interested adopter, because I always think, I don't want to shoo someone away, in case I was wrong.  Never have been, but you know...

...and sometimes people wonder why I'm often aggravated.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Geckos, Adoption Fees, and So On

What I'm going to write about actually happened a bit ago, but recent events have reminded me about it, so I wanted to write a quick post.

I have had a LOT of people lately who've been sending me messages, telling me why they absolutely couldn't pay for an animal (whether we're talking the chins, guinea pigs, whatever, doesn't matter), but they will gladly take it off my hands, and they will make the best home, so I should totally give it to them for free.

Now, while it's not about the money... at some point it sort of is.  Here's why.

I got in those 20ish crested geckos awhile back.  I'm down to maybe 10 or so of them, so they have been steadily getting adopted out.  I had someone send me a long message a while back, assuring me they'd make an awesome home, they had all sorts of gecko experience, yadda yadda, but they wouldn't pay for them, because they'd basically be doing me a favor by taking them.  Gee thanks.

I can sort of see the thought process, but hold on a second.  Let's back up.

When the geckos came in, the previous owner brought enclosures for them, which had hides, plants, water bowls, feed caps.  Things the geckos needed right then, and I really do appreciate her bringing those things, as I didn't have that many spares.

Knowing they were coming, I went and bought crested gecko diet (CGD).  My geckos (I have... 7... 4 adults and a few hatchlings) eat the watermelon flavor, hers were eating the insect flavor.  So, as to not have to mix two different batches (it's a powder you mix with water, to create a yogurt like consistency), I bought two one-pound bags of the CGD (one watermelon, the other insect).  Mind you, these 1 pound bags are $35 (keep that in mind when you complain about 3 lbs of chinchilla food for $15 at the pet store, lol).  So, the first set of bags cost $70.  They go through them, so, so far, we've gone through two sets of bags, so we're at $140 for the CGD alone.

I feed every other day, and skip weekends, so that means I'm mixing up CGD Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  In addition to the chow, their enclosures get misted on those days.  When doing this, their water containers are filled up (and often, replaced with a clean, non-icky one).  I also remove the previous food, wash that container, and put in the fresh CGD.  About once a week, sometimes more often, I replace the paper towel bedding / substrate that's at the bottom of their tanks (basically, as needed... some geckos are more messy and icky than others).  When the paper towels are out, the whole enclosure gets wiped down, scrubbed if needed, and new paper towels put down.  As you can see, while this is not necessarily hard work, there is work involved in keeping these little guys.

So... when I get someone contacting me, suggesting that they will be helping me, by taking some of the animals off my hands... I do get where they are coming from.  Yes, less geckos means less work for me, on an every-other-day-basis and on a weekly-basis.  Yes, I will spend less (in the future, mind you) on CGD mix, paper towels, and cage cleaner.  

However... keep in mind... them taking the pet for free, this does nothing to lessen what's already been spent.  The adoption fees aren't in place for me to get rich.  Far from it.  They're in place for me to recoup money already spent, or money spent in the future.  Sure, a good amount of geckos have found homes.  That has put money into the rescue account.  But now that we're about done with our second set of CGD bags, this weekend I need to pick up two more bags (another $70).  As many of the geckos are $40 or so, that means two need to get adopted, just to pay for this week's food haul.  The food isn't free, the paper towels aren't free, the cage cleaner isn't free.  My labor... well, I'm not getting paid, but the time I spend on geckos takes time away from other animals, so of course there is some value to it.  Basically, I need to not go broke doing this... that is what adoption fees are for.  So, no, just because you are an awesome home, you cannot have the animals for free.  It costs to care for them, ongoing costs that do not end, and by paying the adoption fee -- even if it is not indicative of what you may spend in the future -- you show me that you are able to pay for the care of the animal.  That is all.  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Chinchillas = High Maintenance?

So, I wanted to post about this really quick, because I've been reading on a lot of facebook groups lately that chins are high maintenance. 

Really?  This is news to me.

I spend more time and effort keeping the guinea pigs, rats, and rabbits, and prairie dogs alive / fed / cages cleaned, than I do the chins.  Combined.  Like right now, I have a total of about 10 guinea pigs, 13 rats, no rabbits (well, none here), and 2 prairie dogs.  So, "other animals" comprises 23 animals at the rescue, which account for a whopping total of 5 guinea pigs cages, 3 rat cages, and 1 prairie dog cage -- so 9 cages total.

Compare that to about 150ish chinchilla cages, which house about 175-200 chinchillas at any given time.  Yes, I have help cleaning those, but... the point I want to make here is this -- it takes me more effort to clean / feed / care for those 9 "other animal" cages than it does the 150ish chin cages. 

There's several reasons why, but the main two reasons are diet and cleanliness.  The guinea pigs need their daily veggies, which usually is broken up into a morning and evening feeding.  They also go through mountains of hay, also given morning and evening.  The prairie dogs have to have a variety of food, so their dishes take longer to replenish, just like the guinea pig ones do.  The food bowls for all of these animals (rats too!) get a lot ickier, a lot quicker, than the chinchilla bowls, and need washed more often.  For cleanliness, the guinea pig cages -- though they are (for most cages), AT LEAST 2x the size of most of the chinchilla cages, they are sopping wet if I wait 7 days to clean them.  If I clean chin cages at 7 days... eh, they could use a cleaning, but they're not bad.  They're not wet wet.

Compare this to the chinchillas.  They get their bowls and water topped off once a day.  Washed when needed.  They get hay twice weekly, and they only need it twice, because I put in enough to last a few days, and then repeat a few days later (if I was going to do this with guinea pigs, I'd have to stuff the cage with hay, so the guinea pig couldn't move.... and the next morning, there'd be a tiny pile of hay left, lol).  They get their cages cleaned every 7 days, usually on a Sunday evening, and are good until the next Sunday evening.  I don't have to cut up veggies for them on a daily basis, I don't have to pick off icky parts of the veggies if they're starting to go bad.  Most of their feeders are on the outside of the cages, so I don't have to open every cage to feed them. 

I do understand that a lot of pet people take out their chins for playtime, or take them out to handle them... and I do understand that that adds time.  However.... I still don't consider them high maintenance.  The guinea pigs, which I pretty much have to clean cages for 2x a week, plus 2x daily veggies and 2x daily hay... plus constant washing of the food bowl / pigloo due to it getting icky, plus nail trims, plus refilling those HUGE water bottles daily (which would last a chin probably 2 weeks)... that is high maintenance... sometimes I wonder what people are doing for their pets, that they consider them high maintenance.  Feel free to enlighten me, but I honestly do spend more time for the care of those 9 cages, than I do for all of the chin cages, on a daily basis.  So... not high maintenance to me. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Appointments, Deposits, and AHHHH-gravating People

So, I know I've blogged about this a few times, ok, MANY MANY times, before... but I think the new year is going to bring new policy changes.  My patience with people is on it's last thread right now, and either I'm going to stop rehoming the critters (unlikely) or I'm going to make a significant policy change (waaay more likely).

Case in point.  I posted some young guinea pigs up for adoption.  Two sisters that are like... 8 weeks old?  Babies.  Mind you, as of today, 4 days later, they are still here, despite a surprising number of inquiries (not a big deal, but wait til you hear why).  Anyway...  I posted them, and immediately had multiple inquiries for them.  I contacted the first person, and she emailed me back, asking if she could come see them the following morning.  The following morning was this past Saturday, when I was going to be at that local expo / craft show at Morton High.. so I told her that.  As that show is only like 3 miles from my house, not far... I told her, if I have a list of stuff you want (or even just the guinea pigs), I can bring them to the expo, but I told her, I would not be bringing them if I wasn't sure they would be going home.  Reason being, I didn't want to bring them and have them sit in a carrier for hours on end, especially if I wasn't sure that someone was coming to pick them up.  So, she agrees, and says, yes, bring them.  For reference, this is at about 2 pm on Friday (and I'm not leaving for the expo until 8 am Saturday morning), so I'm figuring, we have plenty of time for her to figure out if she needs supplies or whatnot.

So she asks for the address of the expo, I provide it, and she asks if we have a care packet, and also, if we have / can sell her a cage, supplies, etc or if she should go to the pet store.  So I reply back with a long email about yes, we have two different used cages, we also have houses, water bottles, food dishes, and so on so forth... everything a guinea pig needs, all broken down with prices and roundabout amounts she would need.  This is still in the afternoon.  I figure, since she asked about all of the stuff, the next email would be more or less the start of a list of what I needed to bring in the morning.  I should note, in my email to her, I listed, ok we sell Oxbow guinea pig food, it is $2/ pound.  If you get both guinea pigs, they come with 4 pounds of food, and that'll last x amount of time... so I gave her a basis to go off of.

I get an email back at like 11:15 pm.  Now, before you think it... I'm not saying people should check their email religiously, just because they are emailing me, BUT... surely I would think, if you want someone to bring you something the following morning and they are LEAVING their house at 8 am (which she did know)... surely you don't wait until close to midnight to get them a list of what you want.  But wait for it... the email wasn't any semblance of a list... rather, she asked for pics of the two cages, and pics of the used wooden hidey houses that I had.

So, with the thought that she would respond quickly as it was later at night (giving people the benefit of the doubt is really biting me in the ass lately), I went downstairs, turned on the lights, took pics of all of the used hidey houses.  Went into the garage (23 degrees), took pics of the two cages.  Sent them off to her within 10 minutes, and sent an email along with it with dimensions and cost of every item.

Fast forward to about 12:15... I still don't have an email back... and I am set to go to bed soon, as for us to leave at 8, I need to be up by about 6.  So I send her an email which nicely says (in so many words) that I'm not staying up much later, but that if she gets me a list no later than 7 am, I will do my best to bring everything she wants, but that if I do not hear from her, or she doesn't get me a list (which she would have to do, since she didn't have a cage and all that) or I don't hear from her, I reiterate that I will not be bringing the guinea pigs, just to have them sit there all day, without confirmation that she will be there.  Which I think is reasonable, again, figuring that if she wants them brought there, surely she will check emails and will be getting back to me asap.

I check my email multiple times before I go to bed.  No response.  I get up at 6, check my email.  Nothing.  Check my email shortly before 7, I have an email from 6:30ish, where the person says, hey, her 12 year old daughter just got up and she's super cranky and because of that, they can't decide on what to get (because she can't decide herself?), so they'll have to come out another day.  She wishes me good luck at the expo.

So, I head to the expo, baby-guinea-pig-less, and the expo goes on.  About an hour previous to the end of the expo, I email this person, and because she'd said, hope things go well at the expo, yadda yadda, I tell her in the email, things are going well, thanks for asking, and then I ask her, when else was she thinking of coming by?  This was maybe 1-2 pm on Saturday.

Mind you, I had, between Friday and Saturday, about 8 people who'd messaged about the guinea pigs, all of who I'd told, if everyone before them magically somehow backed out, I'd let them know.

So, I figure, this lady who had wanted them brought to the expo would surely email me back... but the entire rest of Saturday passed, and so we fast forward to Sunday morning.  Still no email back from the lady, so I emailed the first person in line after her, who had wanted to come see the guinea pigs.  They said they were still interested, but I was in Chicago for part of the day on Sunday, so we set up an appointment for 7 pm, as that was the first thing I had open that day, after I got home.  They said that time was great, they were excited, they'd text me around 6 for the address.

I'm home around 3, and have appointments every hour... and when the 6 pm appointment has left around 6:30ish, I realize... I still do not have a text back from this person, asking for my address.  So, I text them, asking if they're still planning on coming.  Their response:  no, can't make it (apparently weren't going to tell me), maybe tomorrow.

I nicely texted back, explaining that I needed to know whether or not they were planning on coming, as I had a lot of people asking about the guinea pigs, and I didn't want to leave them all hanging.  I explained to this person, if they wanted to adopt them, great, but we needed to set an appointment for that, and if they weren't sure exactly when, I explained I could always have them put down a deposit to hold them for 14 days for pickup.  I have STILL not gotten a text back.

So, fast forward to Monday morning.  Having never received a text back from either of those people, I started contacting the other people who had been asking about the guinea pigs, in order.  I emailed back two people who asked about how adoption worked and who mentioned being super excited to come see the girls -- have no return email from either of them.  For all the texts that I sent back, I had two tell me that they already found guinea pigs elsewhere.  I had one who asked for pics... I referred her to our website page that has the pics of these guinea pigs, for them to go look to remember which pigs we were talking about, and then get back to me for scheduling an appointment.  No text back after that.  I had another one who asked me to remind them what guinea pigs we had available, and so I told them, some babies, some adults, and asked them what they were interested in?  I told them, their initial text made me think they were interested in the pair of baby sisters.  Their response -- "do you have the babies left?  Are they free?"  Yes and NO (and really???).  I nicely explained, yes we do still have them, but they do have an adoption fee like all the critters do.  So they asked how much, I told them.  They asked if I was a shelter / rescue and I explained that this was NWI Chinchilla Rescue.  No text back after that.  All of this contacting these people and getting nowhere took ALL DAY Monday.

Got a call Monday evening from someone else asking about the guinea pigs.  They seemed super interested... they said they would call in the morning with a deposit, because they were out driving their kids home from something, and didn't have a card with them.  Fine.  Morning (Tuesday morning, today) comes, and they called... they're a little worried about putting down a deposit, because they've had issues with giving out their debit card number before (which I do understand), so they really really REALLY hope the guinea pigs are still here later, they're going to call back later in the week, and see if the guinea pigs are still here.

For the love of god, people. 

And for a shorter, but just as aggravating story, let's move onto Georgie.  He was adopted out, came back, adopted out, came back.  Had someone call a few days ago, asking about him.  They had a young daughter, and were interested in him, and because he didn't do well in the last home... not positive why exactly (if only he could talk!), but there was a lot of commotion and young kids and such, so now I have him listed as needing a quiet home.  Anyway, I asked how old the daughter was (11 years), to ensure that he would be going to a good home.  Fine age, no problem, not a young young kid, and we talked about the adoption form and how they needed to fill one out.  I explained, they could do it online, or could fill it out when they got here, whatever.  They wanted me to send them a link to the online form, so I texted that to them (this was Saturday), and we set the appointment for Monday night at 7.  They literally said, "OK thank you very much, I think I'm more excited than my daughter, he is so adorable."  So I was like, ok cool, entire family on board, always a good thing.  I even had someone put in a sponsorship for Georgie and I emailed them and was like, hey, he's going home tomorrow, who would you rather sponsor?  So they email back, tell me another chin.  Monday night comes... 7 comes and goes, 7:15 comes and goes... nothing.  About 7:25ish, I send them a text, asking if they're still planning on coming by, since I never did get an online adoption form submission from them, and obviously, they hadn't shown up yet.  No reply, and they never did show up.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are plenty of great adopters, and plenty of people who DO show up on time (or... within an hour of it... but I'd rather people be late than not show up at all)... but with the increase of numbers of chins finding homes, this is happening more and more often, and my patience with this sort of thing is really taking a beating.  I don't have hours on top of hours to chase people down who want to adopt... or say they do, and then don't show up.  And miss out on adoptions in the meantime, because I was holding the critter for them.  And what really boils my blood is that while some of these people were definite flakes and likely wouldn't have adopted anyway, even if I had immediately said the guinea pigs were available (like the person who asked if they were free), others definitely seemed like they would have been on-board with adoption... and COULD have adopted the guinea pigs, had I not been holding them for someone else.  And this is what happens, all the time, where I hold an animal for one person, with no deposit, and tell other people, "sorry, that animal is on hold"... and then miss out on the second person adopting the animal (usually, IN PERSON, when they could have taken it home right then)... and then the original person with the hold backs out.  I almost had our most recent curly go home TWICE with people who were at our place.. except both times, he was on hold (for two different people), both who later backed out.  He went home on Black Friday with a great adopter.  But... he could have gone months prior, had it not been for him being on hold for flaky people.  Not like there's any rush to adopt out animals, but there's always more waiting to come in, and of course, I'd prefer the critters to be in homes as opposed to here, and what often delays all of this (even more than normal) is by people doing this sort of thing.

While I've never been a super big fan of the rescues that are first-come, first-served... the more time that passes, the better and better of an idea that sounds.  I think what I'm going to change the hold / deposit policy to is this -- you can put down a deposit and that will hold the chin / animal for 14 days.  That will remain the same.  What will change is that there will be NO holds WITHOUT a deposit.  You're coming in 2 hours?  Great!   Credit card number / paypal for the deposit before you come, and the chin / critters will, FOR SURE, be here for you.  No credit card / paypal for the deposit?  Better rush here and hope you beat out everyone else!  You know why?  Because if you don't show up, and I had someone coming earlier that day (but after I said I'd hold the animal for you), undoubtedly.... the person with the appointment before you, would have LOVED to have taken home that animal... but didn't, because it was on hold for you.  Yet, it's still here.

It's kind of sad that, this time of year, more than usual anyway, people have to be so difficult as to make it so that I need to change policies.  But... it is what it is... and I honestly feel like, if you 100% want to adopt that pet, and plan to show up, then there's no harm in putting down the deposit.  Because then you're not losing anything.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Adoption Fees and Such

So, at the expo this past weekend, we ran into this one very nice young lady, who was looking to adopt our adoptable guinea pig, Hamilton.  (I should note, just in case it's not clear, this is not the same person who was reaching into the cage without permission).

She kept coming up to the booth, checking with her parents (she lived with them in an apartment for the moment), coming back to see him / pet him, and so on.  Back and forth.  I guess she never convinced them, but she did take a card, so maybe I'll hear from her.  Not sure if that's a good or bad thing.  Read on.

Anyway, I wanted to quickly talk about a few things that were said, because I feel that it brings up important discussions.

She had asked what the adoption fee was.  A single adult guinea pig is $25.

Later, I hear that she told my mom, "well, if he was $20, I'd just take him."  Followed by, "but I only have $10 on me."

Now, let me start by saying that there's nothing wrong with someone having a budget... but if $5 is the difference between adopting or not adopting, like if that's THAT important to someone... I want to know how someone is going to pay the upkeep.  Guinea pig food is EXPENSIVE.  Do you know why we feed Oxbow Cavy Cuisine?  Because quite a bit of the other foods out there are complete guinea pig junk food, and we'd rather not feed that... so for the good stuff, the cost adds up.  If you're getting it at the pet store, it's like $15 for 3 pounds.. and with how much the guinea pigs eat, that goes quick!  They're called "pigs" for a reason.  And of course, let's not forget the veggies and hay and all that, as well, that adds to the cost of keeping a guinea pig as well.  Heck, even if it wasn't a guinea pig -- for chinchillas -- food, hay, dust, chew toys, bedding.. all that is bound to run more than $5/month even if you're buying in bulk... so sometimes I cringe when I hear people that are like that with money, because I wonder if either they're either trying to budget (fine) or trying to scrimp, and then later may scrimp on the necessities, because maybe they just don't have the money (also fine.. but then I tend to think people should wait to get a pet, if money is really tight... better to save up the money in case of an emergency).

Now, about the $10 part.  I didn't hear it first hand, so I don't know exactly how it was said or how she may have meant it  However... there's been plenty of times where people see a chin listed for $200 and say, "well, I only brought $100 with me" (I would assume, suggesting I should take $100 for it, as they still want to see the chin).  My response is usually, "we take cards" (and nowadays, most people do pay with cards).  Does this really work for some people?  That they suggest they have less, and the rescue is like, "ah what the hell, sure, name your price?"  I mean... I would tend to think not...  At a garage sale, if there's a $15 end table and I've got $10, sure, then, I may ask, hey would the take less.  But at a rescue or adoption event, it just amazes me.  In case it's maybe not clear, the rescue (and most rescues) are not that dying for animals to leave, that we'll cut our adoption fees in half for you (or whatever percentage).  The adoption fees are set at an amount where we feel, if you can afford the adoption fee, you can afford the pet.

Now, that's not to say that someone couldn't splurge on the pet and not take care of it, or save up all year to buy the pet and then have nothing left over to care for it.  Of course, there's no way to know, and we can't possibly think like that or we'd all go insane.  I realize that saying, "well if they can afford the pet, they can afford the care," is sort of like dog rescues' arguments of "you need a fenced yard... because it must automatically make you an awesome pet owner or something..."  Which if you know me, despite my fenced yard, I tend to disagree with that blanket statement... so I do get it's one of those slippery slopes.  Can people not have the money to adopt a pet and still be a good pet owner?  Sure!  Can someone not have a fence and still be a good dog owner?  Sure!  But like the dog rescues, we have to draw the line somewhere, because there ARE other people, where if they can't afford the adoption fee, they can't afford care.  There's others where, if they can't afford the fence, they won't watch the dog.  What it comes down to is this -- you just never know.  So, we try to be careful, and we have to draw the line, somewhere.  Not saying everyone has to like or agree with all of our fees and whatever, but they are what they are.  That is all.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

People's Behavior at Expos

Maybe it's me... maybe I was raised differently. 

We had an expo the other day, and the second we were a few feet away from the booth and had our backs turned... we turned to look back at the booth, and had two people, elbow deep, in our guinea pig cage, trying to pet the guinea pig (who was, naturally, doing laps around the cage to get away).

Wait, what?  Did that just really happen?

Again, maybe it's just me... but I was not taught to randomly open other people's cages.  I was not taught to pet without asking.  I was taught to ask -- and in this instance, where we may have not been readily visible to ask -- I would have NOT TOUCHED ANYTHING.

I clearly remember my parents telling me, time and time again, before we'd go somewhere that they KNEW I'd want to touch something, "Now, remember, don't touch."  Words of wisdom.  I knew not to touch.  This isn't a bad thing, either.  Kids touch all sorts of things that they shouldn't.

Best part, these weren't even little kids, these were like teenagers.  Don't even get me started on how the newer generations think that they can do whatever they want.

This REALLY had my blood boiling, if you hadn't noticed.  My mom made the suggestion to lock the cages, but that wouldn't have even helped, as this person had lifted the wire off the cage base.  I mean, really? 

And don't get me wrong, it's NOT that I don't want people petting our animals.  Ask, and you shall receive.  I may or may not get a chinchilla out at an expo if it's a rescue that's acting stressed, but other animals usually come out, and of course, here, you're welcome to pet whatever is available.

But... for all they knew, I could have brought an attack guinea pig.  It could have been the rabbit from Monty Python, for all they knew.  It could have had contagious diseases for all they knew.  It could have had fungus which could have transferred to them.  Did they ask?  No.  Did they care?   Probably not.  Did they even think about any of that?  Probably not.  No, they saw no one around and thought, "I can open that cage and pet that animal."  How ridiculous that it's come to literally having to baby-sit people at these expos.

All I ask is that you ASK if you want to pet an animal.  Do not just reach in and do it.  Even if all is well -- maybe that animal doesn't want to be petted, and we know that.  So, please ask, and you will learn.  Thank you.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Full Disclosure / Meeting

So, this is going to be sort of like a two-part post (well, all together, but sort of two related subjects).  I've had a few people lately mention different things that different chinchilla breeders / rescues do, that may be different from what we do, and so I wanted to talk about this briefly.

First, I had had many people tell me, they'll adopt a chinchilla from somewhere... whether it's a rescue or breeder or whatever, it really doesn't matter... and they later find out that the place they got it from knew something about it that was not disclosed.  Relevant information that would be useful to know.  For example, turns out, the chinchilla used to fur chew and now it doesn't...and this person was buying it as breeding stock.  Or it just had a teeth filing, and is being passed off as completely healthy (when in reality, it will likely need filings for the remainder of its life... which is another blog post in itself).  This hiding-of-info is something that I don't agree with -- while I may not have a lot of info on each animal here (especially the rescues that come from humane societies -- "adult beige female" -- end of info), I share the info that I do know about each critter, and I don't hide any info.  I may even have more info than what's on the ads (nothing all that useful or relevant, but more info), and if someone wants to know more into the background of that specific animal, I may know more and may be able to share more.  But I would never hide what I would consider relevant information.  Full disclosure.

The second thing that has been brought up is meeting people versus letting people into your home.  Some breeders will actually deliver.  Me, if you read this blog, you know that I'm always behind on something (who wants to volunteer and help change this???), so delivery is rarely something that I have time for, but some people do have the time, and more power to them.  Nothing against people who deliver, I'm just not usually one of them.

Other people meet, which I don't necessarily mean to be meeting, as in, partial delivery, but more of... meeting away from the home (as opposed to letting people into the home).  Again, this is not necessarily a negative thing, as there are safety issues.  I could have an axe murderer call me up, tell me they want to see the chinchillas as they're thinking about adopting, and they could walk right into my house.  I acknowledge that.  So, to avoid that, some breeders will not meet people at their home, but will rather, meet them elsewhere.  For safety reasons, there is logic behind it.  Not necessarily bad, but sometimes, the pet-owner perception of this is that the breeder has something to hide, as in... "why don't they want me to come to their place?"  Honestly... even for backyard breeders, they usually have no clue they're doing anything wrong, so they will even usually show you their place... it's usually more of a safety issue than an I-want-to-hide-something-issue. 

I had someone mention the other day how they felt like I was very open and they used the term "full disclosure" to explain how I let them in my basement and see all the chins and how they are housed and such.  But see, that's the same exact thing... I'm not trying to hide anything.  When you get here and see the setup, and see things you haven't run across before, ask about the collars (most do!), ask about the breeding runs, ask why some are in holding cages and some are in ferret nations....  I'm happy to explain, and I do.  It's not hiding anything... but it can be a safety issue at the same time. 

I suppose if I had something to "hide," it's not that I wouldn't let people in...rather, I'd FIX the problem! 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Choosing the Right Chinchilla For You

Wanted to post about this, as people often ask, ok, what chinchilla is going to make the best pet.  Well, it depends.

There's multiple "types" of chinchillas, as far as what we typically have, so let me break it down for you:

  • Rescues -- typically adults.  Rarely under 2-3 years of age, often much older.  Sometimes unknown age.  
    • Previous homes -- Often passed around from home to home, we had one chinchilla in last year where he'd been at the rescue 5 different times (through no fault of his own).  Sadly, this isn't uncommon, as we currently have a guinea pig here (Murphy), where the owner who dropped him off was already his third home.  He's only about 1.5 years old.  
    • Bonding -- They can bond just fine with you, but they do have previous life experience that they will draw upon...this may be positive or negative life experience and will affect the personality and bonding of the chinchilla. 
    • Health / longevity -- They may or may not have been fed quality food or junk food, and healthy or unhealthy treats their entire life, which may affect their long-term health and longevity.  We had a chinchilla come in a few years back eating only, ONLY, snickers bars.  He was 8 years old at the time... I would venture to guess he didn't live a ton longer, due to improper diet and WAY too much sugar in the diet.  In addition, you don't know the parents of rescues, so while they may have been healthy chinchillas... they may also have been fur chewing, maloccluding, chinchillas... which could significantly impact their lifespan.  They could be from a backyard breeder that bred any two chins that happened to have male and female parts.  You just don't know. 
    • Handling -- They very well may have been handled... or completely left alone... often we don't know.  But if handled, they may have been handled improperly, and may have grown to dislike handling, as a result.  They may bite or spray, as a defense mechanism.

  • Babies -- these typically will be non-show quality chinchillas that we bred or that we got from another breeder that we work with.  Typically under 1 year, more like 3-6 months old, on average.  
    • Previous homes -- These chinchillas either were born here or born elsewhere and came here.  Not passed around from home to home.  
    • Bonding -- They have only been at once place (either here or other breeder's ranch) before coming here, and do not have much life experience to draw on, and often have not developed any bad habits.  People often comment that they want a baby so it can "grow up" with them, and they can bond with it from the earliest age possible.
    • Health / longevity -- Coming from one of these places, they have been raised on quality food and little to no (usually no) treats, which tends to suggest they will have a longer, healthier life.  As being out of show-quality-chinchillas, they should be good quality and good genetic quality as well, and should live long, healthy lives.
    • Handling -- These chins may not have been handled much by pet owners (here, only people interested in them or the occasional volunteer), though here they would be handled for weighing and checking they are "ready" before they are made available, plus of course handling them because they are cute babies.  Proper handling, in all situations.

  • Culled breeders / retired breeders -- (for simplicity, I'm going to lump these together) -- culled breeders are breeders that would be culled (put down) from large ranches after they've served their purpose / quit breeding.  Retired breeders are breeders that are basically retired from breeding after being used here.  They are usually not ancient (often 3-6 years old or so).
    • Previous homes -- These chinchillas would have either been born here, grown up, shown, and kept for breeding, or purchased from another breeder for the purpose of adding to the breeding herd (for retired breeders).  Culled breeders would be very similar, in that they would likely either be bred at the breeder's place or purchased to add to the herd.  The point is, all would come from usually a breeder somewhere along the line, rather than a posh pet home, and wouldn't be passed around.
    • Bonding -- With the exception of a breeder that's been sold many times (which would be unusual), these chins would tend to have one home -- at the place they were used for breeding, rather than being passed around.  This creates a significantly less stressful life, so they can definitely bond with people, and usually don't have a ton of negative experiences from which to draw on.
    • Healthy / longevity -- As long as we're talking about these retired / culled breeders as coming from quality breeders (as in, not-backyard-breeders), they should be quality chinchillas from quality show lines.  That said, they should be in good health (in general) and have good lines, and therefore, live long, healthy lives.
    • Handling -- These chins, in being used as breeders, tend to not be handled a lot.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, they may just not know what to expect.  However, if they are handled, it is proper handling.
Now, why might you want one of these over another?  Much of this is personal preference.  We get some people who have to have to have a baby, simply because they want it to grow up with them and their family.  There's others who want an adult (regardless of rescue / breeder / whatever), as the chinchilla will be past that super-energetic-baby-stage, and will tend to be a calmer chinchilla in general (as opposed to a 2-3 month old baby).  There's some people that specifically want a rescue, as they want to feel like they are really helping out a chinchilla in need, or one that's been passed around from home to home.  There's others that specifically ask for the breeders, as they come from the quality lines and tend to not have bad-handling-experience, in addition to having good genetics and hopefully a long life-span.  Which fits best for you?  Only you know that.

What I've noticed an increase in lately, is people asking for seniors (which we classify as chinchillas 8 years and older).  The reason being, people will tell me, ok, their kid is going to college in four years, or they're not positive what their life will be like in 10-20 years, so they'd rather get an older one, than run the risk of possibly having their life change, and possibly having to re-home it in a few years.  Whether you agree with that or not, there is logic in it.  No sense to get a baby if your life may change drastically in 5 years and may uproot everything.  Often, these people mention that, once the senior passes, if they think chins are the greatest thing, maybe next time they'll get a younger adult or even a baby, but the commitment isn't as long for the initial chinchilla.  This, again, is an individual choice, and is the right choice for some people.

Lastly, there is the choice of whether to get one or multiple chinchillas.  I don't feel like there's a right-or-wrong answer to this.  People ask all the time, should they get one or two.  For the most part -- whatever they want.  That's assuming, of course, that their chin does get along with others, or else you loose the multiple chinchillas option (unless they want to do multiple cages).  Chins can do just fine by themselves, or just fine in pairs.  Of course, it depends on the chinchilla, and I'm sure there are multiple people reading this who could tell me stories about their chin that absolutely has to be an only-chin or absolutely loves their cage mates.  I can tell you those stories too -- just like people, some chins like company, others don't.  Some people like having cagemates, because they will sleep and play together.  Others would prefer a single chin, because you never have to worry about them not getting along.  But really, there's not that much additional work between one or two chins.  More food, hay, chew toys, sure... but we still clean cages weekly, and it's not significantly dirtier.  So again, it's much personal choice.

Of course, if you're unsure of what chinchilla might work best for your family, I'm always happy to help however I can.  Some chins do best in a quiet home, others do fine with lots of noise and commotion... and of course, if you tell me about your home and what you're expecting out of your new pet, I can help you find the right one.  Just the right one for you may be very different than the right one for the next adopter.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Reading & Comprehension

You know what they talk about teaching you in grade school -- reading and writing -- the reading part is important.  Maybe I should say that again, the reading part is important.

Probably second to reading, well, taking the effort to read, would be actually comprehending what you read.  Important skills for life.

I promise I'll stop talking about specific people being aggravating for a few days, but first, one last one...

Got a text today from someone who asked about geckos.  In case you haven't seen my gecko page, this is what it looks like, take a gander --

So in looking at that page, you can see they're broken down into numbers.  I've crossed out the ones that have already found a home (in the master list up top) so it doesn't just look like a random string of numbers like gecko 1, gecko 8, and so on.  So, when the person contacts me, I ask them which gecko they are interested in.  Their answer: crested geckos.

No shit, sherlock.

But you know, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, maybe they don't know that the only geckos I have available are crested geckos, so I message back and tell them, you know, there's about 10 available, and so I ask if they were interested in a specific one, or if they were looking for something specific.  They respond back saying that they're not looking for anything special, just preferably females or something eye catching.  That's one of those things where, as far as the "eye catching" part... geckos I like may or may not be what you like... so I told them that I only have one female, and then as far as the eye catching part, I told them, "all the ones I currently have are on this page with pics" (and then I link the gecko page), figuring they could look at the pics and decide for themselves which ones they like the look of.

So I get a text with the number and sex of three different geckos, asking, if I have those. 

Now, if you're following along... I just said, the ones I have available are listed on that page.  So I guess, to me, that would suggest that if it's on the page... I do have those.  But because, again, trying to be helpful, I tell them, "all the geckos on that list are still here, I just updated that the other day."  Which you may have noticed, is also on that page -- up top, it says "gecko listings updated 11/30" (as of 12/2 when I'm writing this), which I intentionally have up there, so people can see how up to date (or not) the listings are.

So they say, ok sorry let them look again, and they mention they've seen two unsexed.  Yes, we just went over this.  If it's on the list, it is here.  So I go on the page and look up the numbers of the two unsexed geckos (which are the youngest ones, for non-reptile people... they can't be sexed until they're older), and I told them that those two were available and what numbers they were.  So they replied saying yes, those were the ones they were talking about.  So I asked, did they want to make an appointment to come see them?

They respond with, "yes, but I would like a picture though if I can get one."  Now, in case you don't remember that far back, when I originally sent the link over to this person, I mentioned that "all the ones I currently have are on this page with pics."  Note the last two words: with pics.  Oh yeah.  So I say, you know, if you scroll down on that page I linked above, there's a section for each gecko and each gecko has several pics.

So they tell me to hold on, and then come back saying, ok, so if they buy some, am I going to ship the geckos to them?  Now, if you made it a bit further down the page, the last thing before the individual gecko listings actually says something along the lines of "these geckos are located in Hammond, IN (zip 46324), sorry, we cannot ship these geckos."  And, EVERY ad I have for these geckos says the same, as I know many people ship geckos / reptiles, but it is not something I will be undertaking.  So I mention this.

Their response:  Ok, so how am I going to get them?

You ever have one of those days you just want to bash your head into the wall?

So I explained, everyone else has driven here and picked them up in person.  If I can't ship... that is literally your only other option.  I mean... how do people pick up most stuff if it's not shipped to them?

So the response is, "but I stay in Alabama in this small city called...."

Ok, so far away, fine.  My response was basically, well, I guess you're not going to be able to get these geckos then.  I mean, not to be mean, but there isn't some other magic solution to get someone in Alabama a gecko, if I don't ship.  Anyway, they asked if I knew of a place that did ship geckos, and I referred them to the only one I know of -- -- and that was that. 

But here's the thing.  It's not that I don't want to have long, in-depth chats with all of you.  It's that this whole conversation could have been, not only shortened, but completely avoided, if this person had taken two minutes to read.  It says where we're located AND that we don't ship the geckos in EVERY single ad and on the website gecko page.  The person, if they had read that part, and knowing we were far away... they would have been like, well darn, ok, I guess I can't get them... and completely avoided this conversation.  In real life, this conversation took at least 30 minutes of back and forth texting (because of course I didn't type everything that was said).  Not the end of the world... but this is where it's so easy to get behind in emails or orders or whatever, because often time is spent on conversations like this, that lead nowhere, and could have been avoided.  That is all.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Small" Animals

I think people are confused.  Well, and can't read, but you all hear me whine about that enough.

I get calls all the time, that are like... "do you guys sell animals?" 

I'd like to start asking people, where did you get my number, what did you search for, and what did it say next to my number?  Because I'm pretty sure that most places my number exists... also has something along the lines of "NWI Chinchilla Rescue" or "NWI Chinchillas" next to it... but whatever.

So in this most recent instance, I told the guy, we have small animals for adoption.  His response:  "like what?" 

So I told him, you know, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rabbits, that sort of thing.  I asked him what he was looking for.  Dogs.  Let me say that again.  Dogs.

Maybe it's just me.  When you go to the pet store, and let's say you have a chihuahua, so it's a small dog... surely you don't go to the "small animal" section, do you?  I mean really?  I am absolutely AMAZED by the number of people who call and ask what small animals we have... and then expect me to tell them dogs!  I just don't get it! 

Yes, technically, a dog is a "small animal."  But if you wouldn't go to the "small animal" section in the pet store, for your small dog, then why would you ask a "small animal" rescue if we have dogs??

Monday, December 4, 2017

Freshness of Pelleted Food / Food Choices Part 2

...continued from the previous day.

So, moving onto pelleted food choices. 

There's a variety of good, quality, pelleted foods out there.  What you feed may depend on the choices available to you.

The top foods we would recommend would be Tradition (Hubbard Life Chinchilla), Mazuri Chinchilla, and Oxbow Essentials Chinchilla.  Note that I have the word "top" in there.  There's plenty of other good ones -- MannaPro Rabbit Chow, Nutrena Rabbit, Blue Seal Extruded Rabbit Pellets.  Probably some others.  The thing is, what you basically want in a chinchilla pellet is a compressed pellet made of mostly hay, with no fruits / veggies / other things in there.  This seems hard for a lot of companies to accomplish, as a quick search for chinchilla pellets tend to result in the most colorful, unhealthy foods for chinchillas, ever.  You want a plain-pellet, junk / fruit / veggie / seed / nut - free chinchilla food.  That is it.  Aside from that, the choice is yours.

So, we use Tradition.  It comes in big 50 pound bags, if you read the previous post, you know one of those lasts us about 2-3 days... we blow through it.  Those 50 pound bags are roughly $20 or so, depending where you go.  The dealer is slightly less expensive, but my feed store can order it (at more like $24-25?) if I run out.  Let's go with $20/bag.  So, let's assume I use 2-3 50-pound bags per week.  That's 8-12 bags per month, or in a year (52 weeks), 104-156 bags of food.  That comes out to 5,200-7,800 pounds of chin chow a year.  Anyway, we're talking about cost here... at $20 a bag, 104-156 bags a year comes out to $2,080-$3,120 just in chinchilla feed.

Don't forget, we also have shavings, laundry (for the cages with fleece liners), hay, etc etc, to pay for.  Plus the big one -- utilities.  Air conditioning, year-round, is expensive.

Not saying that $2-3k is expensive, it's just a number, let's compare.  You can buy Oxbow chinchilla food at the pet store for about $15 for 3 pounds.  So, in looking back at those 5,200-7,800 pounds per year, we'd need 1,733-2,600 of those little 3 pound bags of chinchilla chow.  At $15/bag... we'd be looking at $25,995-$39,000 to feed our herd Oxbow.  Yikes.

Ok, you say, but surely you can find Oxbow in larger quantities.  Well sure... but nowhere that I can pick it up.  I'd have to ship it in.  Which isn't the end of the world, but it adds the variable of shipping, and the whole "will it get here when I need it?" factor.  But just for example, I can find Oxbow chinchilla online, in 25 pound bags for $33.  With those bags, we'd be looking at 208-312 bags per year, at a cost of $6,864-$10,296.  That's about 3x our current cost of Tradition.

As rescue isn't exactly profitable (more like the opposite), and breeding isn't far behind if you do it right (paying the bills is nice... but I won't be buying a new vehicle anytime soon), I can't afford anything going up by 3x the cost.  We've had awesome luck on Tradition, it's been used for 50+ years by many of the large ranchers, and it was developed by one of the large ranchers and has been tweaked over the years, as necessary.  We can get it in regularly, and have no problems with it... we will be staying with it.

However... I do realize it is not the choice for everyone.  As I mentioned, it does come in 50 pound bags.  Do you have one chinchilla?  That maaaay be overkill.  It will start losing nutrients long before you ever use it up.  So, if you get a chinchilla that is being fed Tradition and want to keep that chinchilla on that food, your options (well, pretty much only option) is to buy from someone who buys it in large quantities and sells it.  We sell it for $0.75 per pound, for example.  However, if you're not close by, this may mean having it shipped to you, and as mentioned, there's always a risk of running out and not being able to run out to the store to get it.... so I get where people may chose Oxbow Essentials or another good chinchilla food.  If you only have one chin, you can run out to the store once a month and pick it up, and it's (hopefully) there for you when you need it.

One last note on food -- a lot of people have commented over the years that pet-store food is expensive... no doubt... so let me compare pricing for a minute for you.  Let's say you get Oxbow from the store.  Chins eat approx. 2-3 pounds per month, so let's say, factoring in waste, that that's 3 pounds a month, which is one Oxbow bag per month.  12 months x 1 bag / month x $15 / bag = $180 per year on the pelleted food.  That's for 36 pounds, just for reference.  Let's compare that to getting food here... let's say you're close enough and can come pick up the food, so no shipping necessary.  Tradition at $0.75 / pound x 36 pounds = $27.  Quite the difference, eh?  Ok, let's say you're not close and you do need it shipped... we normally ship 11 pounds in a flat rate box, but can fit as much as 15 per box if we really cram it... either way, you're figuring 3 boxes to accumulate 36-ish pounds.  Each box is $23.  So $23 / box x 3 boxes (this is including shipping) = $69 (for it to arrive on your doorstep).  So... it doesn't have to be super expensive... just depends on the choice you make.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Freshness of Pelleted Food / Food Choices Part 1

I've seen a lot of comments on various chin groups about various pelleted foods not being "fresh," so I wanted to lend a quick comment to that, and how chin food (well, any food) is made, and distributed.  Also, wanted to comment about different choices of pelleted feed, and why we feed what we feed, and why you may feed differently.

Some of you may know that I used to manage one of the pet stores here in town, I was the store manager.  We had our small animal section, and we'd get in food.... and often, it would sit.  So here's the thing... not saying it couldn't be super fresh... but, let's look at how the pet store supply chain works, so we all understand this as best as possible. 

Feed mills produce the food, bag it up.  Pet stores, distribution centers, etc, order the food, and get large quantities shipped to the warehouse / DC.  When I worked at the pet store, it would be nothing to order a few thousand pounds of dog food per week.  Per week..... and that was to be shipped to the store.  Imagine how much a warehouse is shipping in at once.  Of course, the mill doesn't want to make batches of 20 pounds, usually even the smaller mills make 1-2 tons of a specific pelleted food at a time.  That's 2,000-4,000 pounds.  So, if we're looking at those little bags of chin food that are like 3 pounds a piece, that is 666-1,333 bags.  So, say that's produced, and shipped to the Petco / Petsmart / wherever distribution center, and then will be shipped out to the stores.

How long do those bags sit at the distribution centers before being shipped out to the stores?  I don't know.  No one knows.  I suppose the DC could get in a batch and ship out some bags that day.  Or, they could still have 100 bags left from a previous order, order another batch, and not get to that second batch until the remaining 100 bags are shipped out.  How much time does that mean the bags sit before they ever end up on the shelf, and in the food dish?  No one knows.

But you never know, maybe the new batch of chin food bags does get shipped out right away.  How long is that bag at the pet store before you buy it?  When I worked at the pet store, our small animal section was super slow moving as far as sales.  I remember, specifically the ferret items... we'd have more expire than we'd ever sell.  And sadly, that was kind of true for most of the food (read: pellets) items (as opposed to the treats, which sold better... but not well).  For these items to expire, they'd have to be at the store for at least a handful of months... we'd rarely get in anything under 4-5 months from expiration.  Which is fine if used right away... but that's assuming it gets sold ASAP, and used ASAP.  Keep in mind... we'd have much of this expire.  So, unless you came into the store when our last batch expired and we just ordered a new bag to put up on the shelf... you were probably not getting the freshest food, at least in saying that it sat around for months on end.

And I'm not saying it isn't "fresh," don't get me wrong.  If it's not expired, it's perfectly fine.  The only reason I even mention freshness is because I've heard people claim that food bought in bulk is never fresh, as opposed to the small bag pelleted food... and I wanted to comment about this real quick. 

I feed most of the herd Tradition.  It comes in 50 pound bags.  Many large breeders use this food, as it's been developed by one of the top breeders over the last 50 years, and tweaked as necessary.  I get it from a Hubbard dealer / distributor, who picks it up, weekly, from the mill near their ranch.  Depending on the time of year (and money in the chin accounts), I usually have between 500-1000 pounds of chinchilla food here at the house.  Before you even start to think, "holy cow, that amount must sit forever"... know that I'll easily go through 500 pounds in 1-2 months.  It's nothing to go through a 50 pound bag every 2 days, possibly even less sometimes.

If you figure, the dealer picks up from the mill weekly, I usually get my batch the same week or the week after... and the max amount of time it will take before I run out and need a new batch is 8 weeks... if you get food from here, your food can't be older than 8 weeks, simply because I'll run out of my supply before then, and have to get more... and by that point, the dealer will have a new batch from the mill.

Just for example...

See at the bottom that "75/10/12/17"?  The 10/12/17 is the mill date.  That is the last bag of food I currently have here, it'll be opened in the next few days.  10/12 is 7 weeks ago.

Not saying you couldn't get a 3 pound bag of chin chow off the shelf and have it be fresher than 8 weeks... but I guess for me, the thing is, you just don't know.  Keep in mind, they put expiration dates, rather than mill dates, on bags meant for pet owners.

... to be continued.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Meow Mix (guinea pig)

Since posting the short update about Meow Mix on the facebook page, I've had a few people mention that they must have missed her story.  So, I thought I would post about it here.

Meow Mix, originally Almost-Dinner, was found wandering the streets in Gary on November 3rd.  We had someone call the rescue later in the evening, I answered the phone, and the caller told me that they were driving around Gary, saw the guinea pig cross the road (residential street) and then saw cats following closely behind.  They were a good samaritan and stopped their vehicle, got out, and caught her.  

They posted on facebook about what happened, and someone who saw their post knew that I take in small animals (small world!) and told this caller that she should call me.  So she did.

Now, of course we've been full and still are pretty full, but you know... a random guinea pig walking the streets is a bit of a different story.  I told the lady to bring her in, and we got a guinea pig brought in that night.  I checked, she was female.  We nicknamed her Almost-Dinner, for the meantime, and posted some pics.

These were her pics from that night.

I'm not sure how well these pics translate to being able to tell her body condition, but she was super skinny, bony, and had a very dull coat.  

This is her today:

As you can tell, she's filling out, her coat is getting all glossy again, and she's eating like a champ!  And getting very round, so we anticipate possible babies!  Future update on that.

And now she is known as Meow Mix.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Interesting Requests

I know I've talked a lot about spam emails and all, but sometimes we do get actual requests from legitimate places....  wanted to share one with you:

Dear NWI Chinchillas,

I am a student and my lab is interested in studying the genomes of a wide variety of species. Zoos have mainly provided the lab with leftover blood samples, but they do not exhibit chinchillas. Although biological companies have filled some gaps in our species list, we alarmingly receive excessively more blood than requested. What I ask for is a couple hundred microliters or a few milliliters of blood from each individual chinchillas – preferably female.
When you take your chinchillas to a veterinarian or handle their checkups yourself, could you save the leftover blood or tissue sample(s)? As we do for the zoos, all the supplies; i.e., ice packs, needles, vacutainers, Styrofoam boxes, and the return shipping labels, are provided, shipped, and paid for by the lab.
When a research paper is published, the sources of the samples must be listed, so if you do not mind the hassle of obtaining and labeling each sample and sending them to us, then your company will be recognized as the lab’s source of chinchillas.

Thank you in advance for considering my request.


And my response:


When our chinchillas go to the vet, most health issues can be determined by a fecal test or general exam -- basically, determined through some non-invasive procedure.  Chinchillas do not handle anesthesia well, so taking blood or a tissue sample is a health risk in and of itself.  In the few instances where our vets have taken blood or tissue, I believe they take just enough to run the bloodwork / scans.  As far as I am aware, I don't believe there is blood or tissue left over.  

I'm happy to keep your request in mind and save this email, should we end up with chinchillas at the vet that would require bloodwork / tissue samples that might result in some left over.  Though to be perfectly honest, we've only had those types of procedures done maybe a handful of times in the last 14 years, so I wouldn't anticipate a high volume, if any, of samples.

Have a nice night!