Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why Chinchillas?

Hi everyone! I'm sorry I haven't been posting a lot lately but some big things have been happening. I started a new job in a new lab and am trying to find my stride in that and in May we welcomed two new family members! If you've been following my instagram you know exactly who I'm talking about ;D

Cashew (top) and Peanut are settling in just fine! This is them taking a little rest in their playpen.

What I wanted to do was take you through our cage building process and why I chose chinchillas, which you've also seen the images for already if you follow me, but I'll be including our instructions and setbacks in a little more detail. If you're not interested feel free to skip this post or scroll right to the bottom for Cashew x Peanut playtime pictures.

I did a lot of reading prior to deciding who I wanted to bring into our home and the decision took into account many factors, one of which being that we need to be able to hide them from certain people (shh!).


  • I'm allergic to everything and Branden has respiratory issues, so we needed something hypoallergenic.
  • We live in an apartment and are a bit disorganized so we wanted something that could be contained to their own safe space.
  • I just have a preference for furry critters as opposed to feathered or scaly.
  • Because I was hoping to ease my loneliness around my boyfriend's busy life, I needed something interactive.
  • In terms of maintenance expenses, we wanted something relatively low cost.
  • We kind of have to keep them hidden in our building... so quiet and odor-less was also necessary.
These whittled down the choices pretty easily. No lizards, bunnies, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, birds, fish... what's left? Exotics! Degus, chinchillas, sugar gliders. At that point it became a question of space. Using various internet sources, I found degus needed a low, wide habitat and sugar gliders require a lot of space. For chinchillas, more is better, but their cage's longest dimension should be height. A wardrobe type design is perfect and stealthy.

The advantages for chinchillas include:
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Contained
  • Furry
  • Interactive
  • Food is timothy hay ($10.99) and chinchilla pellets ($11.99)
  • Interactive
  • Quiet
  • Odor-less
  • Litter train themselves (YUP! :D)
But there are down sides too:
  • High start up cost including cage, toys, food, more toys, playpen, cage accessories (water bottle, food bowl, houses, perches), not to mention the little critters themselves!
  • Exotic pets need exotic veterinary care, which has reduced availability and greater expense
  • Heat restrictions requiring air conditioning for the summer
  • Huge time commitment because they are so interactive
  • Quiet room, quiet life - no loud TV time, no dance parties
  • Huge lifetime commitment - they live up to 20 years!
  • Reputable breeders were few and far between in my area, and I wasn't sure I could handle a straight rescue since I am quite inexperienced with actually caring for my own animals
  • They are skittish prey animals and require a lot of patience and gentleness
  • They also cannot be expected to be cuddly like a guinea pig would be
Both my partner and I are quiet people who prefer a night in to a night out most days of the year. To mitigate the start up costs I saved for almost eight months until I had at least $1000 that I could spend to get everything ready. I also decided that a DIY cage would be the best thing for us to do since it meant we could customize not only the interior for their sake but the exterior for ours and it would save us some cash. Since he is very busy with soccer twice a week and dude time twice a week, I had to be sure I was willing to do all the work it would take to keep them clean, happy and in general well cared for. 

I did a lot of reading. A lot. The internet is a great resource and I found many people willing to tell me all about their beloved friends and I am so thankful. To get you started, here are some of my sources:

Over about two months, I gathered supplies and herded my boyfriend into building the cage, but that is for another post.

Tomorrow marks one month since my cuties moved in and I like to think they are happy <3

Look forward to more about them and check out my instagram for their takeover!