Many potential pet owners, regardless of species, tend to think that introducing a young animal to their furever home is an easier process than adoption or rescue of an adult animal: “babies” haven’t yet been trained, they’re a clean slate and we have the benefit of molding their personality. While this can sometimes be true, if done correctly, ALL animals have the ability to be molded into happy little creatures, and it’s up to us, as responsible, proud pet owners, to help them do so.
Bringing a new chin into your home is a decision not to be taken lightly. Like any animal, they require time, and lots of attention. Chinchillas are prey in the wild, and because of this, their instincts, oftentimes, are defensive ones. Don’t be discouraged if your new chin is reluctant and hesitant of their new surroundings; this is common. They have a keen sense of hearing, smell and touch (interestingly, through their whiskers!), and so, as their humans, it’s up to us to calm these senses. Chinchillas do not respond to negative discipline, and in fact, this would likely have an undesirable effect (antisocial behavior, stemming from fear and stress). If you find your chin displaying this type of behavior, watch closely and observe their characteristics to understand what’s causing the underlying issue in order to course correct. With love and patience, over time, your chinchilla will be reassured that he is secure in his or her new home.
I Picked up my Rescue Chin: Now What?
Introductions can be confusing and scary: What is this new place? Who are these strange people? What are these strange smells and noises? There’s no short cut: spend time around your new family member and allow them time to adjust to their new surroundings. Talk to them; let them get to know you, and get to know them. Feelings of comfort take time for humans, and the same is true for our precious pets.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Establishing a routine is key for your family member to help with the transition into their new home.
- Feeding. Because your chinchilla is a rescue, he or she will likely have to be introduced to a new diet. If possible, ask your chinchilla’s rescue facility to supply you with a stash of their old food/hay in order to gradually make the switch, as a chin’s digestive system is sensitive, and can add additional stress on them, making their transition more difficult. And because the digestive system is sensitive, a rapid change in diet could potentially cause serious digestive issues. Therefore, it’s recommended to use 75% of the old diet mixed with 25% of the new. After a few days, increase the new diet to 50%, and then to 75% until the diet transition is complete. Take care to monitor your chinchilla’s behavior, and if they stop eating, go back one step. Be patient with your chin, they’re going through a lot of change.
- Bathing (Dusting). This is a great opportunity to bond with your chin. Touch them softly (if they’re ready), reassure them, quietly laugh with them. Use this time to continue establishing your relationship.
The more love you give and show, the more love will be reciprocated from your fuzzy friend. Be realistic: don’t be discouraged if your rescue chin doesn’t fall head over heels for you on day one. Stay conscious of the fact that your chinchilla is in a brand new place, and it will take time for them to become accommodated.
Remember, relationships take time to build and trust isn’t automatically given, it’s earned.