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Quarantine and Introducing a
New Chinchilla to a Cagemate


When you bring a new chinchilla home to an environment which already has chins, a few initial precautions need to be taken. Any new animal can harbor unknown communicable diseases or parasites which can be passed to your own animals. The new chin should be quarantined for 30-60 days to protect against this and allow any problems to present themselves before your other chins are exposed.

The quarantine area needs to be in a totally separate room and as far away from your other animals as possible. Keep all food dishes, water bottles, and dust baths completely separate during this time. After handling the new chinchilla, be sure to wash your hands and even change your shirt to protect your other animals. Even though it may be tempting, don't bring the chins or any other animal near the new animal until the end of the quarantine period. An extra step that can be taken is a well check at your veterinarian. This includes a dental exam, overall physical exam, feces sample tests, and any other tests your vet feels necessary to test for hidden factors.

After the quarantine period comes the fun part! You get to introduce the new chinchilla to your other chins if you plan to house two or more together. (More on the responsibilities of breeding later. For now, I'll simply caution you to think carefully about it.) This can be tricky as chins tend to have their own personalities and their own little quirks. Be prepared -- there are some chinchillas who simply can NOT get along. You need to watch carefully when introducing two new chins to prevent injury or even death.

Initially, the best step is to just place the two cages side by side, allowing the chins to smell each other, talk to each other, but not touch each other. Be sure that there is enough room to prevent one from hurting the other by biting paws or noses through the bars. Leave them this way for a few days and let them adjust to the idea of each other.

If a few days have passed with minimal aggravation, then you can probably proceed to the next step of allowing them to spend time together. Neutral territory is a good idea at first, as chins can be territorial. Let them out in a small area and watch them closely. Watch how they interact and be prepared to separate them if a fight breaks out. However, don't expect them to get along perfectly at first, even though some will. There may be minor squabbles, one mounting the other and barking but as long as neither chin is getting hurt or overly stressed, let them be. They have to establish dominance and work out their own social structure. At the first hint of injury however, your chin's safety needs to come first.

You may have to do this multiple times before the chins get used to one another, but don't give up on the first try if they're not immmediately bonded. It took one of my pairs two full weeks to get used to each other but now they are irreversably bonded.

Another technique used is deemed 'tight quarters.' This worked very well for my other pair of chins. The idea is to put the two of them in a small cage or enclosure with very little room to move and let them work out their problems. Putting a fragrant substance such as Vicks or vanilla on their noses can help to distract them from the smell of a foreign animal as well. Again, there may be mounting, barking, etc. but as long as they aren't being injured, this is acceptable. Keep a close watch on the furballs so that you can intervene if necessary.

One last popular method is to put the dominant chin in a small cage inside a large cage with the passive chin in the large cage only. This can humble the dominant one and bring their tendencies to a more sociable level.

Different methods work for different chinchillas and I hope that you can find one that works for you. Above all, remember that you are responsible for their well being and need to protect them from injury at all times. Never put them together for an introduction and walk away. Chins are very capable of hurting or even killing one another.