Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rabies in Chins / Small Animals

So, the other day, I'm driving home from a doctor's appointment and I get a phone call where the caller identifies themselves as a nurse practitioner from a hospital.  Ok.  And...?

Apparently, someone adopted a chinchilla from the rescue and it bit them, so they went to the hospital, and gave them my number to call me. 

The NP wanted to know if a chinchilla could have rabies.  I told them, no, and explained that chinchillas have been domesticated for something like 80 years now, and are all captively bred.  These aren't wild-caught chins from South America.  They are not known to carry rabies.  Actually, learned from a vet years ago that it's super unusual for small animals to even have rabies and even more unusual to transmit to humans (see CDC website, here -- -- actually, the important sentence is -- "Small rodents like squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, and mice) and lagomorphs including rabbits and hares are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to transmit rabies to humans.").  Honestly, they wouldn't typically survive if something with rabies... such as a rabid dog or fox bit them.  Not to mention, how would the pet chinchilla even be in a situation where it would be bit by a rabid animal?  Not quite sure.

Anyway, I told them, chins don't carry rabies or really anything harmful to humans.  The worst that can usually happen is that if the bite is a deep bite and isn't cleaned  (think of like a kid who gets bit and then goes plays in the dirt and grime or whatever) then it could possibly get infected.  Same as how a papercut can get infected.  So I told the guy, typical protocol for a bite is wash the area with soap and water, put on a bandaid if necessary.  I explained that it's rare to need stitches, most bites aren't that bad.  If they are... most often when I've been bit bad, I've been asking for it... it's rare that a chin just lashes out that badly... They didn't volunteer info (HIPPA laws, you know), so I don't know if it was that bad of a bite, or just someone overreacting... but it would have to be quite the bite for stitches to be required.

They thanked me for my help, and that was that.  Now, to wait and see if I get a phone call or email from someone about this...

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Email Example

I've had a few people comment, in real life, about how I talk about how some emails take awhile to respond to, which is why answering emails can be such a long process.  I can easily spend 2+ hours a day on email, and sometimes not even touch all the new emails.  So, I wanted to share an example of that with you, an email and then the response (which took 30+ minutes to write out):


I sort of "inherited" two female chins, both of whom turned 5 around late August/early September. That is to say, my daughter got the chins, and then left to go to school in England. She did try to rehome the chins, but the girl who got them did not take good care of them, and once we realized they were being neglected, I took them back. They were pretty traumatized, and had become quite reclusive and unsure. I never have handled them as much as my daughter did, but they've come to respond to me fairly well, tho they've never loved being picked up or, really, being petted. They don't bite, however. Recently I've been trying to get them more used to petting and touch with some oat hand feeding, and they are pretty eager for that.
However, due to the amount of supervised play time they require, they really take more time than I have, and they definitely take more of my time than my husband would prefer! He is quite insistent that I find someone to take them. My daughter has since graduated and is living with us until she sorts things out (trying to return to England for work and fiance), but hasn't been really taking care of the chins anymore, or interacting with them, (and when she does, it's pretty clear they now prefer me) so it seems to me they would be better off in a loving home with someone who truly wants to spend time with them. However, therein lies the problem: how to find such a home? They've already had one bad experience, and I do not want to subject them to that again! Tho they do not get a lot of socialization from me, they do get out of the cage playtime (and I talk to them every time I go in to see them), great toys and chews, and are generally well taken care of and in perfect health, as far as I can tell. So part of me is quite reluctant to give them up if I don't know for sure they're getting a better deal.
I like what I've read on your website so far, but I'd like to ask how you socialize the chins?  One thing that made me very nervous was reading that you'll ship the chins by air to any major US airport. I don't trust airlines! I know they've killed several dogs, and with chins being on the anxious side and much more fragile than dogs, I'd really not want my chins shipped by air. Is there any way to request that they not be? Do you adopt to families with small children? What would disqualify someone from adopting, and how would you find out this information?
So, info about my chins: female, bonded pair, one is a "violet", the breeder said, uniform grey with white belly, and the other is black, tho shades of grey may be seen in her fur. Their cage, fully decked out in wooden shelves and stone lined wire shelves, a double occupancy hidey hut (wooden, from Twilight), is 54" tall, 36" wide, and 24" deep. They also have two thick cardboard tubes hanging from the top of the cage. The grey prefers the higher levels and the tubes, the black prefers the first two floors of the cage. Healthy, as I said, and don't bite, but also don't really want to be picked up (they'll run). When I let them out to play, I use a pet carrier, and when it's time to go back in, I set down the carrier and they'll (one at a time) get in to go back. Or, if the carrier is out and they want to go back, they'll run in to the carrier to let me know it's time to go back.
Food: they get Oxbow pellets, timothy hay, the occasional alfalfa cube (tho they don't really eat a lot of that). I hand feed Old Fashioned Oats. They get a few rosehips a week. (I get my toys and other extras from Whimsy's Menagerie); they get apple and crabapple twigs and sticks (she prepares them carefully, scrubbing and boiling) and various types of chews, from different pumice stones and antler tips, to wood, vines, and sea grass twists. I use Care Fresh bedding, and no, they never chew on it. They will, however, rip up cloth, so I'm not sure fleece is a good idea. They also get a small handful of "confetti cuisine" from Whimsy's, which is crispy leaves (they LOVE those), various Chin-safe herbs and flowers, and the occasional small thin slice of dried carrot. Plastic water bottle because I had a bad experience with the glass when it stopped dispensing water (!), so I put a subway tile between them and the bottle so they can't chew on it.
That's probably more than you wanted to know... :)
So, i hope you'll answer my questions. How long is your surrender waiting list right now? Thank you for your time, and for being there for all those chins! :)



Let me start by saying that I'm happy to hear that when your daughter stepped down as far as the care for the chins, you were able to step up and take her place.  Too often, I hear of cases where the original owner either lost interest or became ill (or whatever the cause), and was unable to care for the animals, and unfortunately, no one in the house stepped up until the cage stunk to high hell and something had to be done, so kudos to being there for the critters.

You asked how the chins are socialized.  Many that come in are at a decent level of socialization.  Not so much the ones that are left uncared for and such, of course, those require more effort and socialization, but we do get a fair amount of chins that are reasonably young and someone gave up due to allergies or getting married -- basically, chins that came from a good home that worked with them a lot to start with.  Those chins stay at the rescue with me, and they are interacted with and handled daily when I go around to feed.  The chins that need more specific one-on-one work as far as building trust and being comfortable with people, those go out to one of our foster homes.  We keep the number of rescues small (usually under 20), between the chins that are here and the chins that are in foster homes, that way there's more time to be able to spend with the rescues and help them become the best chins they can, so they can find a great home.  The fosters that we have mostly just have the one chinchilla, so they can devote pretty much all of their time to that one, and to working with that one, which really helps a lot as far as making progress.

As far as shipping, I'm happy to put that certain chins cannot be shipped.  To be perfectly honest though, it would be pretty unusual for the chins you mentioned to be shipped.  Nothing against them, of course, but most of the chins that I ship are $600-800 pedigreed animals that are basically "specialty" type chins.  The last two we shipped were a baby curly chinchilla and a young blue diamond -- both super unusual.  Of course, I'm not saying that an adult pair of chins couldn't have someone interested in them farther away... but for a more common color chin, most people don't care to spend the money to get them shipped.  It costs these people $200-250 to ship, so it's not for the average pet owner.  The airlines take very good care of our pets.  I acknowledge that dogs have died, though you may notice, they died in the summer due to the heat.  Due to chin-specific regulations (that sounds almost funny) that the airlines have, we can't ship them if it's over 80, but to be safe, I don't ship them if the weather is over 70, and I've never had one have any problems shipping.  I work with another breeder that is a partner on -- they ship their chins worldwide, and have also never had a problem with a chin getting ill or passing.  My guess would be this has something to do with shipping during cooler temperatures.  I'm not saying this to sway you or anything, but I just want you to know that I wouldn't put a chin's life at risk if I thought shipping was dangerous.  If it's too hot or something like that, we just simply do not ship.  Not worth the chin's life or even overly stressing the chin for that matter.

We do adopt to families with small children.  If the family is looking for a pet specifically FOR the small child, as in... the kid wants to hold and pet the chin (and likely, squeeze and love on it a bit too much...), then I will steer them towards a more cuddly pet like a guinea pig or rabbit.  However, if the family is looking for a family pet, and has small children, that's not a red flag.  I always avoid in my ads, saying that chins are or aren't good with kids, because I firmly believe that that depends as much on the kids as it does on the chins.  Some kids are well-supervised by their parents and are taught how to appropriately handle and pet small animals.  Others are little terrors and I wouldn't want them around my small animals, any of them.  I do believe, though, that kids taught how to properly handle and pet small animals are not a danger to the pets, and can benefit from being raised around chins.  A lot of little kids enjoy sitting in a playpen with chinchillas and letting them hop up on their legs and laps, while being told to not reach out and try to grab them.  It's cute to watch even.  When we have families come over with small kids, I have never yet witnessed a family that does not seem to have the pet's best interest in mind.  Usually the parent or a teenager is holding the chinchilla, and the smaller kid is gently reaching out to pet.  With the thought that this continues at home, I don't have a problem with this.

We do have an adoption form that gets filled out before someone can adopt.  It's available online, if you'd like to see it.  Here -- -- If the potential adopter already has a cage or gets one from somewhere other than here (we sell cages and all supplies), we ask for a picture of the cage so we can see what is in the cage and advise.  As far as things that would disqualify someone, usually that info would be found in an answer to one (or more) of the questions on the adoption form.  Of course, sometimes in talking with someone, we learn of something that would be harmful to the chinchilla, and it can happen that way as well... but usually, the adoption form is the first step in finding out if someone would be an appropriate home or not.  A few examples (questions truncated, you'll get the idea):

Question: Own or rent?  If rent, allowed pets?  People have actually put that they rent, and no, they are not allowed pets.  Bye bye.

Question:  There's a section on name and address and whatnot.  This doesn't apply to chins specifically (I suppose it could in some areas), but for example, in Hammond (where I live), rabbits are illegal to own.  When I have rabbits up for adoption, I put in their listing a note as far as this, mentioning that people in Hammond will not be able to adopt.  People in Hammond still apply.  Sorry, denied.

Question:  Are you planning on moving?  If yes, what happens with the chins?  The answer should not be that they'll drop it off at some random shelter or list the chin on craigslist.  When people adopt, they sign an adoption contract which states that if they cannot care for the chin or no longer are able to keep it for whatever reason, it must come back to the rescue.  I actually took someone to court over this once, to get the chins back.

Question:  What would you do if you had to move somewhere where pets are not allowed?  The answer should not be, sneak them in.  People really do sometimes answer these questions that way!  Ideally, the answer should be that this will never happen, but if it did for some reason (say, due to old age and infirmary, moving to a nursing home), the animal would come back.

Question:  Is this chin for you or someone else?  It's one thing if they put it's a family pet, or it's going to be the teenage daughter's pet, but the parents are going to oversee the care.  The answer should not be that the chin is a gift for a friend or that sort of thing.

Question:  Do you have funds to cover vet care?  Answer should not be no. 

Questions:  We ask what brand / type of pellets / hay / dust / bedding.  All to ensure that they put down safe options for these items, to ensure the chins are cared for correctly.

Question:  Where do you plan to keep the chin cage?  This is a big one.  I don't really care where they put it, but it has to be inside.  Not many people put down that they're going to keep their chins outside, but a random few do, and if someone puts something like that, we're not even going to have a chat about it, just flat out denied.  Because at that point, I won't believe them if they say, oh ok, well, since you said, I'll keep them inside.  No way to verify that for the life of the chin...

There's more questions than that, feel free to check it out, but those are ones where sometimes there can be a variety of correct answers, but there often is one incorrect answer where it's a significant red flag, and depending on what it is (for example, if they put down the wrong bedding, I'm going to educate, not say they can't adopt... unless they want to stick with the un-safe brand), that's when someone would get denied from adopting.  It doesn't happen overly often, but there's some people out there that are stuck in their ways... they want to keep the chin outside, and they want to sneak it into their apartment that doesn't allow pets, and so on so forth, and the and care of the chins is paramount, so that's not going to happen.  I won't put chins through that.

It sounds like your cage and supply setup is great for the chins.  I love Whimsy's!  Lots of healthy treats and I love her stones and bones toys.  Such creative stuff!  I order from her periodically, for the stuff that I don't make myself for the chins.

Right now, the waiting list isn't super long.  I want to say there's maybe 5-6 people on it?  Of course, getting chins in requires chins here being adopted, so sometimes it goes quickly, sometimes not so much.  Also, since you were talking about socialization and such, if you decided you wanted to bring the chins in, and further wanted to request that your chins go to one of our foster homes so they'd get more one-on-one attention, we could totally do that.  I would just mark down on our waiting list that you'd be waiting for one of our foster chins to find a home, and then once that happened, we would schedule a time for you to bring the chins either to one of our fosters, or directly here for a foster to come pick up (depending on which foster and where you're located, and such).  

Talk to you soon! 

Now, I acknowledge, not all emails are that long, but I get quite a few, and I do mean quite a few, per day that are that detailed and info intensive, and those are the ones that "hold up the line," so to speak.  Just wanted to share an example...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Stupid Moments

Ever had one of those stupid moments?  Well, we all have... this actually happened awhile ago, but I was just thinking about it today...

When I got in the first batch of geckos, the previous owner brought me caps used for feeding.  In case you're not aware, crested geckos eat something called CGD (crested gecko diet -- creative name, I know, haha) and it's a powder that gets mixed with water, to create a applesauce-like-consistency goo that they eat.  It's supposed to be similar (though with more balanced nutrients) to the rotting fruit that they would eat out in their tropical natural environment.  This is commonly put in little cups (sort of like you'd see used for salad dressing), or for the smaller geckos, people use bottle caps, like off a bottle of pop.

So anyway, I have myself, Jim, and my parents saving bottlecaps when we drink bottles of pop, and those get washed out and dried and then used for the CGD, and then when I change the food, I can just pitch them and use new ones.  No need to wash (washing the bottle caps to clean is a lot quicker than trying to wash out dried CGD).  Works out good.  I have bought some sleeves of little feeding cups:
(and there are some other re-useable feeding caps available online as well)...but on these, there's a lip on the outer edge where food gets caught... and honestly, most of the geckos are young and won't eat this much food (and it's not much, these little cups hold only 1/2 oz.

Anyway... so I wasn't thrilled with the current re-useable cups I had, and so this previous owner brings me, with her geckos, some larger feeding cups which she is using for water and, what look to be, plastic re-useable feeding caps.  They're all bright colors, and probably hold about the same amount as a bottle cap, except they're more flattened out, versus bottle caps being higher / more up-and-down.

So, I figure, she must have bought these at some gecko site, and I like the bright colors and think they're neat, so I use them. 

When I first go to wash them, I notice on the bottom, some have an R and some have an L.  Right now, some of you are like... I get it!!!  But read on.  For me, it didn't click, and I thought, oh these are sizes.  R must be for regular and L must be for large.  It took me a few weeks to realize that the L and R ones were the same size.  Mind you, I'm not thinking too hard about gecko feeding caps... better things to do.

But I still hadn't figured it out.

It wasn't until I had taken my contact case out of my bathroom and taken it to the kitchen sink to clean / sterilize... and had the caps of that off, nearby my gecko caps... that I realized... these colorful gecko feeding caps that I liked so much... are contact case lids!  LOL!  

They work well, it doesn't matter... just can't believe it took me that long to realize what those were....

We all have these moments...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

List of Possible Donations

So... I have had people tell me, over the years, they'd like to help, but don't have a cage or whatever to donate.  Understood, not everyone has those sort of animal-specific supplies that we might find useful... but guess what, we use all sorts of stuff that either you may have lying around the house, or you could easily buy that won't cost a fortune.  I totally need to post this list somewhere on the website, and work to get a more exhaustive list, but off the top of my head, stuff we use all the time:

  • white vinegar
  • isoprophyl alcohol (70%)
  • simple green 
  • paper towels
  • printer paper
  • ziploc baggies (snack, sandwich, quart, and gallon size -- most needed are quart and gallon)
  • sharpies
  • note cards
  • food coloring
  • gift card to home depot (for wood)
  • dish soap 
  • scrubbies
  • kleenex
  • alcohol wipes / sterilizing wipes
  • packaging tape
  • wire clothes hangers (we use to make handles for shipping crates)
You get the idea.  You can get a lot of this at the dollar store.  I think sometimes when people think "donations," they think something big, like they want to donate a lot of money or whatever, but we had someone show up once with some rolls of paper towels, a tub of alcohol wipes, and a pack of note cards.  That's just as appreciated as a monetary donation, and it's stuff I can actually use right here at the rescue.... so it doesn't have to be some lavish donation, this other cheap stuff is great as well.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Festival of Trees

I know, I know, this is kind of late to post about this... but if you remember, the Hearts in Motion store where we usually had our rescue Christmas tree for the Festival of Trees is no more, so our tree was at the Schererville store instead.  Not the end of the world, but...

... most years we make like $40-50 in ornament sales.  This is useful, as often we get these ornaments donated from kind souls like yourself, so it's basically donations.

We made $16. 

I don't know if this was as a result of it being in a different location, or that our tree was on the second floor of the building and people had to walk up a flight of stairs to get to it (and I understand, this could be a problem for many people), or what... but this was sort of pathetic.

We did have a person or two donate a few bucks, saying they wouldn't be able to make it to the store to pick up ornaments, so that was good, so technically a few more dollars, but jeez... kinda crappy.

...and actually, that's how it's been going lately.  Not to complain, because of course, I'd never want to do that, lol, but we've had more no-shows than ever, more emails not returned than ever, less donations.  Now... we have had more ORDERS than ever before... but because there's still only one of me (unless one of you can clone me?  let me know...), it's taking longer to get them out, because now there's more of them, so a few people have cancelled their orders cause even though it says online that houses can take 2 weeks to ship... apparently people don't read and then after 3 days of no house shipped, they get all huffy.  But other than orders being up, everything else lately has been down.  Volunteers haven't been showing up.  In all fairness, it's cold / flu season and many have had that, and of course, they have lives as well... but just in general, things need to pick up.

So... if you have stuff to donate (I'll post a list of potential things another day), or know someone who wants to adopt a chin / geckos / guinea pig, or want to volunteer or all of the above... let me know!  We can use your help!

Friday, February 16, 2018

All Sorts of People

So, I'm always talking about how we run into all sorts of people, and some people have taken to asking about the people that I don't talk about.... what type of people are those?  So, over the last week (well, everyday, come on now), I've been answering emails, so I'll share some tidbits from today and the last few days...


I had one email, well, an adoption form actually, filled out from someone in Puerto Rico.  I emailed them, letting them know that we can only ship within the 48 continental United States (amazing how saying "we can ship in the US" needs qualifiers), and asked if maybe they had planned another alternative to come get a chinchilla?  I'd asked, because I've had people from New York and Georgia drive here... when I would have bet money that I'd be shipping to them, versus I've shipped to Indianapolis before.  So, you never know.  This was at least a week ago now, never did hear back.


I had another one email, their adoption form was good for the most part.  They mentioned using branches from their organic trees in the cage, so I educated them about how they would need to scrub, boil, and bake the branches before use, so that they are bug and bacteria free.  I then got down to the treat section of the adoption form, and here was the question and their answer:

How many times a week should treats be given? : We think it is dependent upon what the treat is and how old the chinchilla is. fresh fruit or dried fruit limited to 3 times per week, but certain dried fruit like raisins only 1-2 times per week. We would ask your guidance as to what Ash is used to and try to replicate that.

The first part -- yes, does depend on how old the chin is and what the treat is, but obviously, fresh or dried fruit is a no-no, so I educated them on why those should not be given, what would happen if they are given, and safe alternatives.  This was also about a week ago, never heard back.


I had another email today from Canada.  They filled out an adoption form as well.  It looked good, nothing out of the ordinary... so I emailed them back and asked if they are planning a trip down here, as we are unable to ship out of country due to permits that we do not have (and would not make sense to get, as there's not that many people wanting chins shipped out of country).  Never heard back.


Another email, they submitted an adoption form for one of our chins.  I asked if they wanted to ship or drive down here... informed them of the cost of shipping, and linked them the shipping page.  I actually got a response back rather quickly, saying that it would be selfish of her to put the chin through shipping.  No offense to this person, but... in other words... it's likely too expensive.  I sent back an email explaining (in short order) that shipping isn't hard on the chins at all, that it's usually easier than a long car ride because it's over so quick, and they usually sleep the whole way, and of course, wished her luck finding a chin by her.  In case you wanted to read the page that she did, which suggested that shipping is difficult on the chins, it is here -- everyone's got different opinions, I realize, but I just re-read that and am scratching my head on how it would be selfish to put a chin through that.  It's very similar to taking a chin home in a carrier... but by airplane.  Doesn't matter...  Anyway, got an email back, they basically said, oh but it won't be above 40 here anytime soon to ship.  In other words... she was reading my shipping page and looking for reasons why I wouldn't be able to ship to her.  People... just tell me it's too much money.  When you start making excuses, I can usually tell.


Phone rang... person asked if this was a rescue.  I said yes, this is a chinchilla rescue.  They start telling me they have a dog they can no longer care for, so I reiterate, this is a chinchilla rescue, and we only rescue chinchillas, guinea pigs, rabbits, those types of small caged animals, so unfortunately, we're unable to help that person, but I tell them they should give some other places a call and hopefully someone else can.


Someone called today and asked if I remembered them, they told me which chin they adopted years ago.  Turns out, the son (adult son) adopted the chin, has moved in with his gf, is going to be married soon, and hasn't taken the chin with, but instead, left it at the parents' house... which is the ones who called me, wanting to bring the chin back into the rescue.  I said that's fine, they're going to call back once they've talked to the son again to schedule a time.


I could go on and on about these cause I spend a few hours on email per day, and a good number of phone calls as well... but one more for the moment...

Got a text message from someone asking about Cass & Alf, some guinea pigs that were at a foster home.  They wanted to know if the guinea pigs could be brought to Hammond for an adoption, as we're closer to them than the foster home.  Sure.  I actually had the foster home coming here in a day or two after the initial email, so I messaged them and let them know that if I received an adoption form back, they could bring the guinea pigs back to the rescue.  So I tell the adopter, sure we can bring them here, but I need you to fill out an adoption form, and I asked for their email so I could send that to them.  The provide me with the email, I send out the adoption form.  Few days pass, nothing.  I get someone else inquiring about the guinea pigs, so I text the first person back and ask them if they're still interested and specify that I would need the adoption form back, in order to approve them, and so on.  They responded back, yes they are interested, they'll get the adoption form back to me that night.  Two days later, I get the adoption form back, and I couldn't have had it in my email for an hour, before they're texting me being all like "did you get it???"  So, I look at it... the spots where the adoption form asks, what type of food, what type of hay / bedding / leafy greens, what type / size of cage -- you know, all the relevant info that I use to base the entire adoption off of -- for every single one of those blanks, this person put "I haven't gotten supplies yet."  Ok.  So I thought, maybe they intend to get supplies here, and want to know what I'm using, and that's why they haven't filled this out yet.  Trying to give benefit of the doubt.  So I text that back, and they say no, they just haven't gone to the store yet.  And since they're not volunteering any info, I text back and say, ok, are you planning on going to the store sometime soon?  I specify, I can't hold the guinea pigs without a completed adoption form and a deposit, and they won't have the completed adoption form until they let me know about those supplies...  Their response is that they can go to the store Sunday.  So I text back for them to let me know when they go and tell me what they get, and we will go from there.  In the meantime, the foster did bring these pigs back to the rescue, where they now are chilling...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Deposits on Orders

You ever wonder why some places make you put down a deposit to do this or that?  Want custom cabinets?  Deposit, then they will look at what you want.

It's because people waste their time.

I've had one custom order that has been pending since September.  They came over on September 20th, asking about me making scatter guards for their cage, and were coming over here to get some other stuff.  They said when they were here, they would show me what they wanted.  Apparently I had made this stuff before for them, and wanted new ones.

Ok, so they come over, show me.  Maybe a week or two goes by before I get to their order and cut the scatter guards.  We had agreed that I'd charge the same as what I charged several years ago, even though prices of everything else have gone up, with the thought that they would be using the same bolts from the previous scatterguards.  That alone would save them a bit, as the bolts and hardware are now about $1 per set.  So, I would just need to build the wood part and drill the holes, and they would use their existing bolts.

So, once I've cut the wood, I send an email asking how many bolts were there per piece of wood.  Some of the pieces were smaller than others, and if there was only one bolt, I didn't want to drill two holes (as this is a good size bolt, probably 1/4" or larger).  About a week passes, no response.  So, I send another email.  No response.  I have other orders, so I figure, I'll come back to this.  This is early October, mind you.  I keep working on my other orders, figuring I will get a response eventually, and we fast forward to December 7th, when I send another email, detailing that I've sent previous emails asking about the bolts, and that I can't finish the scatterguards without knowing how many bolts.  They respond right away, sorry sorry, they tell me, two bolts per piece of wood.  Ok, so I respond back, immediately, and tell them, I will have the scatterguards done that day (cause remember, I have the scatterguards done, I only need to drill the holes for the bolts), and ask when they'd like to come pick up their scatterguards.

No response, so I email again on December 15th, saying that I have them ready for pickup, and wanting to know when they're able to come.  The ask if I'm available Monday or Tuesday.  I respond (Monday early morning, the 18th) saying that I'm available both the rest of that day and Tuesday, and ask when works for them. 

Don't hear back, naturally.  I send another email, January 2nd.  I'm even nice about it:


Wanted to check in with you and see when you can come to get these, thanks.

Don't hear back, so I send another email, on the 10th, trying just the slightest bit to get a response... I explained, I'm trying to clean up the shop, and I keep running across her scatterguards (which mind you, one piece is like 3' long, so there's nowhere good to store the thing), and I need to know when she's going to come and get it.

I get a response (on the 10th):

Hey Ashley 
I’m so so sorry. I actually lost my job middle of last month like a week before Christmas. Things have been super hectic but most importantly it’s set me behind on every single one of my bills. I can come and pick them up I just need to figure out payment! I’ll let you know as soon as I can manage. Also what is the exact cost again? I really don’t remember. 


I responded, they're $21.  I have not yet heard back.  Every time I see those pieces of wood, I get irritated.  It's $21 not $2,000.

I should not, SHOULD NOT, have to chase anyone down for payment.  Either you want your order or not, and yes, I get it, she clearly doesn't care that much, or want her order anymore, to pay the whopping $21.

I just mention this, because I hate to be that person that requires deposits for every custom order, ever... but this is a perfect example of what happens when I don't.  I am now sitting on wood that I would not have bought (it's 4" wood... I usually buy 8"... so I had to even make a special trip to get it) and chances are, my best bet with these scatterguards is just to cut them up and use them for scrap... which is absolute bs, considering I took the time to measure and cut her scatterguards, and now, likely for nothing.

So, when you wonder why I'm in a perpetual state of irritation.... keep in mind, there's a lot of people like this.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Breeding Recessives

This is always an interesting one.  I had someone, awhile back, ask about breeding a blue diamond to a beige.  They wanted to get, more blue diamonds, of course.

Because blue diamonds are recessives, that's unfortunately not how it works.

When you breed a beige, you have the opportunity of getting beige or standard kits.

When you breed a blue diamond, depending on what you breed it with, you have the opportunity of getting blue diamonds, sapphire violet carriers, violet sapphire carriers, and standard violet & sapphire carriers.

Now, a beige is a dominant gene, so whatever you breed it to, you will get beige or standard (plus the possibility of additional colors, but at least those).  Since a blue diamond is a recessive, and a double recessive at that, for you to get ANY color other than a standard violet & sapphire carrier, you would need to breed it to a chin that at least carries (if not expresses) sapphire and violet.  That's because to get a violet, sapphire, or blue diamond, BOTH parents must express or carry the gene.  Got it?  Good.

So, since the beige chin in this example is just a regular beige and does not carry any other genes (and yes, we know this), there's no way for a blue diamond, or sapphire, or violet, to be produced.  In fact, the only options are a standard grey that carries violet and sapphire, or a beige that carries violet and sapphire. 

I often can explain this to people until I am blue in the face, and many people don't understand, until a few litters later, when they only get beiges and standards, and don't understand why the male didn't reproduce the pretty blue diamond color!  He's a blue diamond, come on, he should produce kits that color!  Not quite.  There needs to be an understanding of basic genetics to understand why this works the way it does.

Friday, February 9, 2018


  • standard grey + white = mosaic
  • beige + white = pink white
  • white + white = lethal white (don't breed this)
  • sapphire + white = white sapphire
  • violet + white = white violet
  • black + white = mosaic 
  • ebony + white = white ebony
Ok, so today's post will be an educational post, for people to learn about the colors.  There's only a few basic colors, but there's a variety of ways to modify them, so for educational purposes, let me go ahead and confuse you :D

There's the basic colors

  • standard grey
  • beige
  • white
  • sapphire
  • violet
  • black
  • ebony

Most of those colors become a different color if the white gene is added to them.  For example, if you add a white to the beige gene, you get a pink white.  So, additional colors

  • standard grey + white = mosaic
  • beige + white = pink white
  • white + white = lethal white (don't breed this)
  • sapphire + white = white sapphire
  • violet + white = white violet
  • black + white = mosaic 
  • ebony + white = white ebony

You can also add ebony to most of these colors:

  • standard grey + ebony = ebony
  • beige + ebony = tan
  • white + ebony = white ebony
  • sapphire + ebony = sapphire wrap
  • violet + ebony = violet wrap
  • black + ebony = TOV ebony
  • ebony + ebony = more ebony

You can also create a TOV version of most of these colors, by breeding a black velvet (TOV) chinchilla to these colors.  So...

  • standard grey + TOV = black velvet
  • beige + TOV = brown velvet
  • white + TOV = TOV white
  • sapphire + TOV = TOV sapphire
  • violet + TOV = TOV violet
  • black + TOV = black velvet
  • ebony + TOV = TOV ebony

Certain genes can be carried as well -- the recessive genes.  Ebony is a recessive, as well as sapphire, violet, blue diamond (well, a double recessive).  Not colors, but the curly / locken and angora genes are recessive as well.  For those genes, you need both parents to carry the gene, and both to pass the gene down to their offspring, to possess an animal that has that color.  I'll talk about that in another post at some point. 

A lot of these genes can be stacked as well, and can all be expressed at once.  Therefore, it is possible to have a TOV white sapphire wrap that carries violet and curly.  Not saying a good breeder would breed for something like that, but is is possible.

And of course, a few of these colors can be modified by other colors.  For example, a beige, as most people think of it, tends to be a hetero beige, which is the darker of the two beige colors.  If you breed two beiges together, you have a chance of having a chinchilla born with two beige genes, which would be a homo beige.  That would be a lighter, more champagne-y beige.  Due to the two beige genes, a homo beige can only pass along a beige gene when bred.

If you breed sapphire and violet together (well, more specifically, a sapphire that carries violet, and a violet that carries sapphire), you have the chance of getting a blue diamond, which is a chin that expresses both recessive genes of sapphire and violet, and has a powdery blue type color.

There are also recessive whites, such as the Lowe's recessive white, also known as a goldbar.  These are a gold-ish color.

To piggy-back off the last post just a little bit... you see the variety of colors that are out there.  Some of these are more unusual than others, and you don't see some of them so often... but there are quite a few colors or combinations of colors.  So, when people say they are looking for something unique... this is why I ask further what they are looking for... because there's just so much out there, a little more clarification can be useful...  

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Body Parts Growing Back

Odd title, isn't it?  People ask this all the time! 

Had someone the other day who got a second chinchilla from here, and wanted to intro it to their first. Of course, if you've read this blog with any regularity, you know that there's no way to know if two chins will get along without trying it, and no possible way to guarantee that any two chins will get along.  So, anytime you try to introduce two chins, you have the very real possibility that the may not get along, and they may even injure each other.

Even if kept in separate cages, there's several homes I can think of, where they let the chinchillas out for playtime, separately, mind you, but the cages are both in the same room, so the chin who is running around can go up to the chin that's still in the cage and potentially go after the chin. In the situation that made me write this blog post, the chin having playtime went up to the cage and bit off a finger of the chin that was in the cage.  You read that right.

Before you have a heart attack... It happens ALL the time.  I don't count fingers and toes of chins that leave here, but I'd be willing to bet that at least 1/5 or more are missing some.  Mainly because siblings will chew on each other, or another chin will chew on a finger when it's pressed up against the wire that separates cages... but fingers and toes (and ears) are the most common casualties of chins getting chewed on.  Not the end of the world, the chins don't even notice they're missing anything once it heals (and it usually heals really quickly).

But one thing I should mention, since people ask, all the time -- no, the finger / toe will not grow back.

Chins aren't lizards / geckos, to start with.  So when a body part comes off, it comes off permanently.  Did you know, there's actually very few species of lizard where a body part does grow back?  Even in the ones where the body part does grow back, it's typically a tail, and the new tail never looks quite the same as how the old one was.  But for most lizards / geckos, if they lose a body part... it's just like us losing a body part.  It's gone, not coming back.

Just to let you know...

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


I put the word "unique" in quotes, because I feel like it's one of those words that depends on the person.  Sort of like "pretty," or "ugly."  I think something is pretty.  Does that mean you will too?  Well, you might... or you might not.  It depends on the person, we all interpret it differently.

My favorite word as of late is the word "unique."  People will contact me and say they are looking for something unique. 

So I ask, what is unique to them?  Because, when I used to only have grey chins way back when, I thought a beige was unique.  A white?  OMG!  Unique.  A curly?  Holy hell unique!!  But to some people, the only thing unique would be a heavily marked mosaic or pink white or whatever.  So I ask, do they mean unique markings, or an unusual color (which is also open to interpretation) or what?

A lot of people say both, or then start naming colors.  So, for the "unique" people, I sent someone yesterday pics of goldbars, and a curly chinchilla. 

Today, I had someone ask about unique chins, and later explained they liked beiges, whites, and pink whites.  I apparently will go get pics of those later. 

The point is, something like the word "unique" is different to everyone... there's no "right" answer, which is why I ask what they mean.  I've had a few people where, when I ask them to explain, seem to get huffy, and go "well, a unique chin."  Well... what's unique to me may not be unique to you, and what I consider unique may be out of your price range, or even, what I consider your average chin may be unique to you.  I'm just wanting to understand better, so I can avoid taking pictures of 15 chins, only for someone to tell me that none of them are "unique."  So, that's why I ask, is there a certain color, or markings, or price range, that they consider unique.  That is all.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Chinchilla Being the Right Pet for You... Or Not

Got a call the other day... person asked how much the chins went for, and wanted to know if they could use their old rabbit cage (sterilized and all) for a chinchilla.  She described it as a long cage with a plastic base and wire at the top.  I told her, she would need to put in some wood ledges and provide chew toys for the chin, because otherwise, the chin might chew the plastic base.

So we talked about this a bit, and she asked if they were chewers.  I explained, I'd had many cages similar to hers, brought in over the years, with actual HOLES chewed in the sides, where the chinchilla didn't have anything else in the cage to chew on (well, sometimes they did, but regardless), they decided to chew out.

So she asked, could chins be trained not to chew.  Sorry, but no.  They are chewers by nature, they need to chew to wear down their teeth and keep them in good shape, and there's no way to "train" then not to chew.

So the lady goes on to tell me that she had a rabbit that, when they would come home, they would open the door to the cage and the rabbit was basically a house rabbit.  Didn't chew electrical cords, was potty trained, didn't chew anything.  I explained to her, rabbits can be like that (keyword: can... not all are), but chinchillas will chew everything and especially seem fond of electrical cords and woodwork and things that shouldn't be chewed.

I told her, maybe another rabbit would be good for her.  She said she really didn't want to get another rabbit, she wanted to get a chinchilla, but after hearing what I was saying, it didn't sound like it would work out for her.  So I told her, well, rabbits and ferrets are the two small animals that sometimes (keyword) can be trained to have the run of the house.  She proceeded to tell me that they used to have a hamster that had the run of their house, and according to her, never got stepped on or got into the walls.  Great for her, but I explained, I get calls all the time asking about how to get a rat / gerbil / hamster / etc out of under the fridge, or out of the heating vents, or out of the walls.... 

Long story short, she thanked me for my help... hopefully she will get a rabbit.

Now, I appreciate that she called and asked questions, BEFORE going out and buying a chinchilla and then finding out that it wasn't the pet for her.  But.... there's always a but... had I not mentioned that a chinchilla might chew out of her cage, she totally had plans to have a free-roaming chinchilla. 

When I say in these blogs that I wish people would do research, this is what I'm talking about.  I'm not saying you have to know each and every safe wood for chins.  You don't.  Heck, I know the major ones that are commonly used, but I can't tell you every single one out there.  But this sort of stuff is basic.  Had this person done basic research, they'd know that chins chew and that you're not going to be able to have one permanently running around your house.  Oh, the benefits of actually taking time to research... 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Shipping Chinchillas

Now, you know I love you all, and of course, there's no such thing as a stupid question.  I've always said, if you don't know, you don't know.  No problem -- ask.

But jeez, sometimes I wonder if people have any common sense.

Just this week, I must have at least 7 emails asking if shipping is safe.

No, not at all.  They allllllll die on the flight.  That's why I offer it, so that people can pay a small fortune to receive a chinchilla that's DOA (dead on arrival).

^ that's sarcasm, in case you can't tell.

I mean... yes, I suppose, if you have no idea what shipping entails, you may want to know how it works and all that (which is on my shipping info page, which apparently no one reads).  But I mean, if you know me, you know I love my chins and wouldn't do anything to hurt them, so, I would tend to think that would lead to the following thought of... it must be safe, because if they were all going to die, she wouldn't offer it. 

I mean, right?

I have never had a chin die, or heck, even get ill from shipping.  Neither has Jim with, and believe me, they ship out about 300 chins a year, all around the world.  Even more chances for them all to die horrible deaths in that horrible climate controlled compartment.  These animals are treated WAY better than luggage... that's also why checking a bag is like $25 and shipping a chinchilla is like $200. 

I'm happy to answer all questions, of course... but sometimes I really wouldn't mind if people would step back for a second and really think about what they're asking.  I mean, otherwise, this is the thought process:

Oh I see she ships.
I don't like airlines.
Oh I wonder if it's safe?
I see she's shipped a lot of chins and the new owners have commented that they love their chins, on that same facebook post, so I guess they got there ok....
No, now that I think about it, must not be safe, I MUST tell her that, as a condition to surrendering my chinchillas, she CANNOT ship them.

Uh-huh.  There's a ton of rules and regulations as far as shipping animals.  Yes, I am aware that some animals have died during shipping, but if you notice, that's usually during the summer when it's ridiculously hot, not when it's 30 degrees outside with cold-loving critters.  We can't even ship them when it's so hot that they'll fry, you know why?  Because the airlines don't want them to die either....