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lost a chinchilla

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lost a chinchilla

Post Number:#1  Unread postby akane » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:49 am


It is a rare thing at all to happen and this past year has been a bit unlucky with what is probably only our 3rd lost kit in 5 years and our first stillborn litter. We actually have not lost an adult until now and we do not put down culls like with rabbits. There isn't much market for show quality locally and a few of the highly intelligent critters with big personalities and not a mean bone in their bodies have a bit too big of personality to be suitable for producing offspring that will mostly go as pets but we find them a more patient home than usual at half our usual price. Unfortunately one of our violet carriers we decided to keep, had just paired with a female, and I was debating what name to put on his pedigree had an accident.

The dogs knocked loose the lock on the wheels of the glass display cage and it rolled down the slant of the livingroom addition into the chinchilla cages. It's not really an issue because the cages are quite durable steel and the display cage has a steel frame protecting glass panels. What we didn't realize was that a light was left clipped to the top of the display cage and plugged in for seeing the cages better during cleaning. Being a chinchilla he had to chew the cord. We realized the mistake only when there was a bright flash and *pop*. Investigating my husband found the stiff chinchilla and said he could not pull the cord from it's mouth but it was breathing. I knew there really couldn't be a chance it would survive that. :cry: It was not one of our starting stock or first few we produced and kept but I rather liked that little velvet male. My husband said he got his dad's crazy hyperactivity and was difficult to handle but for me he'd hop out of the cage down my arm to my shoulder and then back again without causing any trouble so he won a breeding spot with a new female we brought in. My husband unplugged the extension cord from the wall and then I unplugged the light from it. He still couldn't get the cord out of it's mouth and it was still breathing but there was nothing to be done. It was beyond unconscious and I don't know what process was keeping it breathing so I told him to just wait for the muscles to relax. On the fraction of a percent chance it woke up we'd deal with any damage but likely it would just pass and go slack. Minutes later it was not breathing and after a half an hour I removed the cord and my husband removed the body. The darn chinchilla didn't waste any time and had grabbed right down in the middle of a wire to yank the center of it into his mouth in one bite.

Is it hard for humans to deal with rapid death because we are taught to think of it as worse, that it's hard to process the loss, or is it an instinctual response to how dangerous the situation or event must be toward our own health and others? Logically I know he was probably unaware of anything the instant he bit down and the light popped. It probably knocked out any cognitive function or pain recognition as fast as a bullet but it still seems such a miserable way to have lost one.

I don't have a picture of that chinchilla specifically yet. His half sister is a velvet like him and my husband's favorite while his full sister may be only a standard grey but is a beautiful show quality example with the fluffiest fur and wonderful personality.
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I will have to attempt to pair that female for the 3rd time. She was beaten up by her first mate attempt and was getting along well with this male despite his active personality.
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Re: lost a chinchilla

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Zass » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:08 pm


I'm sorry you lost one. :cry:

I could always tell how precious they were to you from your posts.

I'm not sure why it's so hard to process sudden losses, Akane.
For me, grief is usually not present when an event first occurs. I'm usually busy reacting to the necessities of a situation, and take on a caretaker role to others.
Later, only after the events are passed, I will have sudden outbursts of grief at random times, when memories catch up to me.

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Re: lost a chinchilla

Post Number:#3  Unread postby akane » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:37 pm


I think my tendency to take quick action and figure things out is why there wasn't really any delay. My husband was the one acting for once because I knew it was pointless. He's worrying about how to unplug things, that it's still breathing, and the cord won't come out of it's mouth. I unplugged the damaged cord only after he had the extension cord out of the wall because there was no point in the risk of grabbing a live cord with unknown damage in dim light. While my husband is still assessing the situation I already felt sad it was dead. No idea why it still breathed some but even if that meant a tiny chance it would wake up there was no way it would be without damage and probably death on it's own or I'd have to put it down for quality of life the next day. My husband continued on for the rest of the night about his frustration that he doesn't know what cords are plugged into where. I explained real quick that the 2 wire, indoor extension cord only went to the low watt bird night leds and that temporary light (work light but only a standard 10 or 20w fluorescent bulb in it) I used when cleaning but didn't expect recognition because he's just upset he couldn't quickly free the chinchilla and have it be fine despite the fact it wasn't going to be.
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Re: lost a chinchilla

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Zass » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:45 pm


akane wrote: My husband was the one acting for once because I knew it was pointless. He's worrying about how to unplug things, that it's still breathing, and the cord won't come out of it's mouth. I unplugged the damaged cord only after he had the extension cord out of the wall because there was no point in the risk of grabbing a live cord with unknown damage in dim light. While my husband is still assessing the situation I already felt sad it was dead. No idea why it still breathed some but even if that meant a tiny chance it would wake up there was no way it would be without damage and probably death on it's own or I'd have to put it down for quality of life the next day. My husband continued on for the rest of the night about his frustration that he doesn't know what cords are plugged into where. I explained real quick that the 2 wire, indoor extension cord only went to the low watt bird night leds and that temporary light (work light but only a standard 10 or 20w fluorescent bulb in it) I used when cleaning but didn't expect recognition because he's just upset he couldn't quickly free the chinchilla and have it be fine despite the fact it wasn't going to be.


My family tends to start mourning the moment they realize someone is unsavable. That might be part of the process you are describing.
My daughter cried when we finally realized Mucky had been losing so much weight because she had developed malocclusion in her rear teeth, and she cried for Thistle-pig then too, because she knew he would be devastated from losing her.
I thought he had good chances of being OK then, since we had the girl pigs here to keep him company, but not even being allowed to share a pen with them cheered him up enough to get him eating. He was finally euthanized 3 weeks after we put Mucky down, a little skeleton of a piggy. :cry: My best guess is depression related feed refusal leading to stasis. I've nursed rabbits back from stasis, but they always WANTED to eat, despite the pain.

Are guinea pigs so different from rabbits, that they seem to bond much more closely? I always thought Mucky treated him like a pet, as if he was sort of a pseudo-baby-rabbit for her to look after, but it seems like he thought of her as something more. Like rabbits, their gi systems just can't handle feed refusal for long.

I'm still reeling a little from losing both so closely together, but the rest of the family managed to get their mourning done before I had to put either down.

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Re: lost a chinchilla

Post Number:#5  Unread postby akane » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:42 pm


Guinea pigs do poorly alone and will search out company in anything. It's always a potential problem with the boars since they will easily start fights with other boars but they also hate to be alone. Usually they don't decline to the point of death but they eat less and occasionally one will fail to eat enough to stay healthy. It depends on personality and what they are used to or had time to adjust to before ending up alone.

Chinchillas are a bit in between rabbits and guinea pigs I think partially because they can far better understand and interact with their surroundings instead of only each other like guinea pigs. They have complex social interaction and usually get along if introduced properly aside from a few very passive or very pushy ones that can be tricky (the female alone now falls under wimp and has been frustrating) but they will usually just go on the same when they lose a cagemate provided they aren't fully isolated and bored. Stressful circumstances can create odd behavior but under healthy conditions they handle either with only a few personality clashes. Ours are in the entryway with the door always open and the livingroom where we have a tv sitting between our computer desks. It also has the dogs periodically wrestling, the 2 cats are allowed downstairs while we are awake, and a pair of diamond doves go between mating calls and pacing their cage. The chinchillas learn how to get the attention of the other animals to make them come over when bored and the cats have learned they will lose fur if they give in to curiosity. The dogs don't notice their tails being groomed thinner. :lol: We send chinchillas to live alone if the person will be around a lot or has other animals and is willing to setup a spacious cage with items to destroy for entertainment. Guinea pigs I don't and if we decided to sell any I priced 2 the same as buying 1.

Degus are worse than guinea pigs. I felt sorry for some pet store ones who had all lost their tails because the employees didn't know their tails deglove at any attempt to grab them and wanting to separate genders had a lone male. Unfortunately the male was utterly mental from being isolated and ended up causing the death of one of the 2 females when trying to put them together. There's a reason degus don't often go through pet stores. They always come out neurotic. People don't realize South American rodents can have some peculiarities from other rodents and rabbits. My husband does like them so we might get some sane pied or "blue" ones to replace the psychos that weren't raised or housed correctly when weaned. Even with uncommon colors they aren't worth anything near what a chinchilla is and browns with average breeding will sell for $5 around here sometimes but they are equally intelligent and more vocal with the same type of young and the low odds of ever biting as their relatives. They also look and move more like squirrels.
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