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Save and link to www.chincare.com
many people, the ChinCare webmasters grew up with animals: dogs, cats,
mice, chameleons, fish, horses,
chickens, pigs and a turtle, bearded dragon,
tarantula, ball python, racoon and squirrel.
In 1997, right after we began dating, we got our first chinchilla
on an impulse buy from a pet store. We were told that it was a boy,
so we bought "him" a buddy... and a couple years later something
that looked like a mouse was scurrying about the cage! YIKES! That
was Hugo, the first chin born to us. After that surprise birth we
had two more litters born to Hugo and his mate Deedlit while trying
to get to the point where we could have all male and all female cage
We weren't what you would call "responsible
breeders" (we wish we'd known then about adopting from rescue
first), we didn't know much about chinchilla genetics and we didn't
have our chins' medical and temperament histories.
That's BAD. We learned our lessons, the "what not to do's,"
in this and other areas the hard way. So we decided to make it our
mission to do research and compile a website that would serve as a
hub, a directory, to all the online chinchilla care information so
that others would be able to start out on the RIGHT track as prepared,
knowledgeable, conscientious chinparents. That's how ChinCare came
about, in January of 2002, it mainly just linked to and listed the
information available on other pet chinchilla care sites; there weren't
that many back then. Eventually, as we worked with more chinchillas
and acquired more knowledge
and experience, we began writing articles of our own.
After purchasing that first chinchilla in early 1997, our chinfamily
grew as we became smitten with these charming, intelligent
creatures. We adopted from pet chinchilla or "hobby" breeders,
ranchers, and one reputable pet store that occasionally got a chin
in who had a discharging eye, heavy scarring from fight wounds or
a difficult temperament. In 2000 we began taking in only chins in
need: abuse and neglect cases, rescue, rehomed, special needs and
senior chins, and during the peak years of our rescue work, from 2002-9,
our rescue maintained between
We were very fortunate during 2002-9 to have the opportunity to do
a lot of intensive observation and interaction with the hundreds
of chinchillas that we rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed. The webmaster
was frequently able to telecommute during those years and the webmistress,
who was battling GI disease, was at home full time: networking and
advising in the pet chinchilla community, strategizing and organizing
rescue operations, studying extensively both online and from their
reference library, and producing
articles for publication or use by rescue organizations, see Credentials.
In 2003 we began networking internationally
with chinchilla rescue services to encourage communication, promote
proper education and to better assist chinchillas in crisis situations.
In 2004 we initiated the Pet Homes For Ranchies (or PHFR) Midwest
Project that worked cooperatively with ranchers to save (pelting
is no longer profitable in the U.S.) one hundred at-risk
ranch chinchillas and find them homes within the pet community. PHFR
projects continued for several years.
Our rescue work drew to a close in 2010, but we plan to continue to
host our website and offer advice to chinparents, occasionally assist
rescues in our area, and maintain our ties within the international
chinchilla rescue community.
Besides caring for our chinfamily, the ChinCare webmasters also make
time for recreational interests: attending artistic and church events,
reading, writing, biking, swimming, landscaping, hiking, paintball,
etc. Our combined university education has culminated in the following
degrees: English Language and Literature for Secondary Education,
Human Resources Management, Business, and Computer Science.
THE WEBMASTERS' CREDENTIALS, OR BACKGROUND
The content written by the webmasters for ChinCare derives from the
following knowledge and experience:
Intensive observation and interaction
while working with literally hundreds of chinchillas
Our chinfamily- begun in 1997, at its peak
our rescue maintained between 30-40 chins from 2002-9
Our rescue work- from 2000-10, includes interaction with chinchillas
from all backgrounds: pet chinchilla or "hobby" breeder, pet store,
rescue, rehomed and those with handicaps, special needs or that have
been neglected, abused, etc. Pet Homes
For Ranchies- saving ranch chinchillas since 2004, also see Achievement
Reports on Matilde's Mission (note: we resigned our position with
the charity in 2010)
Extensive online research, data mining and the study of our
reference library which includes dozens of veterinary, scholarly and
rancher-authored books, pamphlets and articles
and our purchase of rancher-authored books did not contribute to the
continuation of pelting), plus
the hand-reviewing of all English language pet chinchilla care sites
(over 700 as of 2008) on the web for the educational purposes
of this site.
Ongoing international communications with scientific researchers,
published authors, pet chinchilla owners, breeders, rescue workers
and ranchers, and of course the indispensible benefit of working closely
with our exotics specialist vet.
Content from ChinCare has been translated into at least three foreign
languages: Finnish, German and Spanish. In 2008 we wrote an article
on chinchilla safety for Critters
USA magazine, "Danger Defused." Over the years we have
contributed a prolific amount of advice and articles to rescue and
other organizations (like HSUS'
Animal Sheltering magazine, May-June 2009 issue and a disaster response
sheet for Animal Crisis
We don't have scientific or veterinary qualifications, which is why
we thoroughly research our topics and credit sources appropriately.
We have dedicated a large part of our
lives to learning about, understanding and interacting with chinchillas
because we love them, but we are not infallible and all-knowing, we're
just devoted chinparents helping other chinparents for the benefit
of all chinchillas.
ChinCare to serve as an educational resource for the pet chinchilla
community, the webmasters have initiated other projects to promote
education and positive
Have assisted in a research and advisory capacity for the lawful prosecution
of several chinchilla hoarding/ abuse cases
Continue to provide small animal shelters with chinchilla care information
and adoption tools (contracts, surrender forms, charging an adoption
Ongoing participation in chinchilla railroad projects and donation
of supplies, educational materials and personal assistance to chinchilla
rescue workers, including paying for website operation costs.
Performed IT work for and funded the first year of one educational
chinchilla forum and briefly managed another. Submitted an efficiency
report to a major pet forum for ethical and administrative improvements.
Have helped prominent chinchilla suppliers establish their business
and client bases to make quality goods more commonly available to
the pet chinchilla community
Obtained reproduction permission for and submitted several informative
articles to a pet chinchilla magazine
Contributions made in the initiative to establish national chinchilla
breeder standards in New Zealand
Initiated projects that were assumed by "The Matilde
Mission: Pet Homes For Ranch Chinchillas, Inc.," a 501(c)3
registered charity that the ChinCare webmasters co-founded in November,
A call to action for those who value chinchillas and want to assist
the on-going transition in the U.S. from exploiting chinchillas for
their fur to protecting them as beloved pets.
The 2004 Pet Homes For Ranchies (or PHFR) Midwest Project placed
one hundred at-risk
ranch chinchillas (pelting
is no longer profitable in the U.S.) within the pet community
between 10/2004 and 6/2005, inspiring the creation
of Matilde's Mission.
Placement Coordinators for Chinchilla Rescue and Re-Homing*
From 2003-06 IPCR coordinators The
Dust Bath and ChinCare
networked extensively within the international chinchilla rescue community,
assisting in scores of cases (in Europe and nearly all 50 U.S.
states) that involved everything from routine rehomings to emergency
rescue assistance. The work of IPCR was picked up and expanded upon
by Matilde's Mission's International Chinchilla Rescue Network
(ICRN), which ran from 2006-2010.
JUDGING THE QUALITY OF INTERNET CARE INFORMATION
The sole objective of this article is to encourage chinparents to
THINK CRITICALLY and ASK QUESTIONS of their information source. We
too have been confused and misled in the past by some people's ignorance
and arrogance in online advising, and we'd like to help others avoid
some of the trouble and grief that we've been put through. This is
not an attempt on our part to somehow disqualify advice given elsewhere
and to imply that only our advice is true and relevant, we invite
the same honest scrutiny that we encourage chinparents to apply elsewhere.
We also expect that people can and will think and make up their minds
for themselves, that's the way it should be. Please see ChinCare's
Principle and read the conclusion after these points:
statement epitomizes one of the biggest problems with getting
chinchilla care advice online: "Typically, the people who
give the most online advice are not the same people who spend
hours every day working with high-strung, oversensitive or troubled
chins, and that's why these chins are so often overlooked, misunderstood
or dismissed as the exception."
Most online advice comes from pet chinchilla breeders, and they
typically cite their years of experience as proof of comprehensive
expertise. But unless a pet breeder also does a substantial
amount of rescue work, then their experience is limited to understanding
the type of chins they breed: temperamentally mellow (breeding
for temperament should
be a top priority), hand-raised pet
bred or docile ranch
Reputable pet breeders don't get their breeding chinchillas
stores, rescue or rehoming(this is a good
thing!), but the public that they are advising DOES,
and those chins may be high-strung, oversensitive or troubled,
thereby representing the "real" more than the "ideal"
pet chinchilla-owning experience. When pet owners or breeders
generalize based on their more ideal experiences with easy-going,
well-adjusted, and therefore more adaptive
and resilient chins, they often fail to realize that what
holds true for them, what works for them isn't necessarily applicable
in every situation, for all pet owners.
is why some of the most widespread advice in the pet community
is also some of the most problematic in practical application.
For instance, being hands-off
with a new chinchilla or using the Side
by Side Cages introduction method (things that often
don't pose a problem with mellow, easy-going, well-socialized
chins) WILL pose
a problem with chins that are high-strung, oversensitive
or that come from a troubled background. This is another reason
why pet breeders should also do rescue work (and indeed some
do), because besides acting as a "checks and balances"
it gives them a more well-rounded perspective from which to
Chinchillas are truly unique as individuals, they vary as much
as people do, and generalizations should err on the side of
caution and usually need to be framed by qualifying language.
This is not a criticism of pet breeders, the problem with generalizing
from unrepresentative experience is a valid point that applies
to everyone including rescuers such as ourselves, but the voice
and experience of rescuers, at least in the U.S. pet chinchilla
community, is rarely heard.
We started out adopting chins from pet breeders, which often
have a positive social disposition
toward people as a result of having been hand-raised by them,
but the bulk of our experience
has been with chinchillas from pet stores, ranches, rescue and
rehoming, i.e., chins that are sometimes very high-strung, troubled
in their ability to relate to people and other chins, or suffering
health and behavioral problems. We have to keep the potential
limitations of our experience in perspective and temper our
of experience does not guarantee perfect and complete knowledge,
not ours, not anyone's.
Experience must be defined in order to be useful, because ALL
anecdotal advice is inherently LIMITED to a particular set of
circumstances and a SUBJECTIVE point of view. For instance,
some novices are more knowledgeable in their subject area than
those with years of experience that is largely outdated, out
of touch, and disconnected from scientific or veterinary advancement.
Also, it should not be assumed that expertise in one topic is
proof of knowledge of the subject as a whole.
To help determine the usefulness or value of experience-based
1) What type?
...What specific type of experience is the advice rooted in?
For instance, experience dealing with chinchillas in a ranch
(business) environment where they're treated like livestock
is not the same as experience that involves constant interaction
with chinchillas from various backgrounds,
where their social habits and how they relate to people is regularly
2) How many?
...How many of the case type have they dealt with? Are they
generalizing from a small or unrepresentative (or even inappropriate)
population sample? For example, when ONE chin (especially one
chin with special circumstances) has an adverse reaction to
a medication, that doesn't mean that all chinchillas necessarily
will and that everyone should thus be warned not to use that
3) For how long?
...For how long have they dealt with the type of case they're
advising on? For example, are they making conclusive statements
based on a brief encounter with a chin in the final stage, or
have they treated several cases of varying severity for a number
chinparentsare unaware of the "politics" of
the U.S. pet chinchilla community when they first get involved
online. They assume that everyone feels the same way about chins
that they do, that everyone else is putting the chins first
and that the focus of the pet community is always on the chins'
welfare and happiness, not human egos or rewards.
Regretably, this is not always so. Almost all pet chinchilla
breeders belong to the U.S. pelter clubs(ECBC and MCBA were formed by ranchers to support the fur
industry, and those clubs are for breeders) where they compete
for status and awards; pet breeder actually comprise the majority
in those clubs. They learn from ranchers and some (not all)
emulate them in treating their chinchillas more like livestock
than pets, which consequently leads to their giving very biased
input through the pet community's clubs and forums, which are
all owned or administrated by pet breeders.
We have nothing against responsible
pet chinchilla breeders and their choices
are absolutely their prerogative regardless of whether we agree
or disagree with it, HOWEVER, pet chinchillas truly NEED
treatment than what fur farms offered: confinement in a tiny
cage with no exercise, environmental stimulation, companionship,
interaction, etc. More information on this subject is detailed
on Matilde's Mission's Change
by Choice, where we advocate that pet chinchillas be given
the consideration and treatment that they are entitled to as
new chinparents complain about receiving inconsistent or conflicting
information, it is often because they've consulted forums or
beginner's sites where "newbies" are every bit as
vocal as those with tenure; this also unwittingly contributes
to the perpetuation of myths and misinformation, see: Misinformation
and Care Myths Index. Sometimes erroneous "common knowledge"
has been repeated so often that by sheer repetition alone it's
become mistaken for fact (wet
bath, the MF
Chapman hoax, etc.). Other advice is downright dangerous
but because the person giving it hasn't directly met with disaster,
they casually recommend it, just as if their luck holds some
magic guarantee for others (wheels
with spokes, unsafe
mesh width, etc.).
There is also an inclination by some in the pet chinchilla community
to want all information presented in an overly simplistic, "always
do this" or "never do that" fashion and when
advice from one source seems to lean toward one extreme more
than the other, it may appear to be in conflict with other advice
when in fact the truth lies somewhere in the middle, where the
big picture is more complicated than that. For example, although
excessive amounts of protein
can be harmful to chinchillas (think unhealthy treats like
and seeds), serving alfalfa
hay occasionally is beneficial even though it is has a high
Alfalfa hay is especially good for pregnant/ nursing or poorly
chins (underweight, malnourished, ailing) who need the
extra protein, and it contains calcium (helps prevent malocclusion
caused by calcium
deficiency) in addition to many other very beneficial
The complicated bit for the average chinparent is to consider
what their chin eats on the whole, calling to mind his complete
rather than over-analyzing the parts. As long as the chin's
diet is high in fiber and low in protein overall (as their
diet should be), then serving alfalfa hay occasionally IS
There are some pet owners, breeders and rescuers with years
of experience dealing with substantial numbers of chinchillas
from diverse backgrounds,
who have accumulated libraries of chinchilla-related books,
work closely with their exotics specialist vet and spent time
researching scientific and scholarly articles online, and these
are the people to consult because they have put in the time
required to really know their subject, and to distinguish myth
from fact. Some of these more authoritative and reliable resources
are listed in All*Star*Sites.
That said, we are not condoning cliquish elitism and bullying,
which is very prevalent on some forums, that obstructs the learning
process for everyone. We believe that those "in the know"
owe it to beginners to extend patience and understanding so
that ultimately the chinchillas on the receiving end will reap
experience (ranchers, pet owners, rescuers, breeders, etc.)
is still no substitute, especially in health-related matters,
for the scientifically-trained and professionally qualified
insight of an exotics specialist vet.
Veterinary expertise with chinchillas and exotics in general
has increased exponentially as their popularity as pets has
grown, vet consultation
should be regarded as indispensable to the responsible chinparent.
forums are wonderful for support and comparative learning but
it is not at all uncommon for them to dispense outdated or very
erroneous information, albeit from people who are usually well-intentioned,
And then there are those who assume themselves to be above indicating
and crediting their sources and, in the absence of a ready supply
of scientific data on chinchillas, will take other animals'
scientific data and tack it onto chins, on no other authority
than their own arrogant
CONCLUSION While there may not be an abundance of scientific research-validated
chinchilla information available there nonetheless is good and bad
and facts. For instance, it is a fact that safety is not optional.
Our pets trust and depend on us to make wise decisions that will directly
affect their welfare, therefore anything unsafe- whether it is unsafe
cage accessories or unsafe
introduction methods- should never be put to use, regardless of whether
the pet store is selling cheap plastic "for chinchillas"
or whether a pet breeder is pushing their "Smooshing
Chinparents need to actively practice critical
thinking at all times because it is THEIR responsibility alone to
judge the quality of internet care information, and this can
only be accomplished by asking questions and not taking for granted
that just because something is put online, repeated online, or stated
by someone with "experience" that it is necessarily reputable
fact. Anyone who holds themselves above reasonable questioning is
not worth trusting. And EVERY online information resource, whether
it is a personal website, forum, etc., should put their credentials
and sources right out there for people to see so that chinparents
know what they're getting and exactly where it's coming from: personal
observation and experience, secondhand advice, veterinary advice or
scientific research, etc.
That said, we also wish the information that we provide on our sites
to be viewed in perspective: We don't presume to "know it all," and
we don't have scientific or veterinary qualifications. We're simply
devoted chinparents sharing the extent
of our knowledge gained from years of research and experience so that
we can help other chinparents to be the best they can be for their
chins. We always welcome questions or concerns regarding the content
of our sites.
CHINCARE.COM COPYRIGHT NOTICE
& SHARING POLICY
All content material (text, images, documents of any file type)
contained in chincare.com that is not credited otherwise (some
images may be credited via hyperlink), originates with and is
the sole property of the chincare.com webmasters. This material is
protected under United States Copyright Law and the international
treaties constituting International Copyright Law.
We are more than happy to
share our information with others in the pet chinchilla community
and we regularly do so, however, crediting sources is important: just
because something can be stolen does not make it "free."
We put a lot of hard work into this site, it comes
from our heart and personal experience as well as from years and
literally thousands of hours spent researching, emailing, and communicating
with veterinarians, scientific researchers and others in the pet chinchilla
community. We created this site because we genuinely care about chinparents
and their chins, and all we ask for in return is to be treated with
the same basic honesty and respect that we demonstrate when we credit
the sources we use.
People who have scant regard for those who originated the material
they wish to steal and present as their own (that's how it looks
when a source is not credited) will ultimately be doing a great
disservice to EVERYONE as information of all kinds proliferates through
the ease and speed of electronic mediums. Crediting
sources is not about elitism or self-importance, it's fundamental
to academic honesty and it also makes the source accountable for their
information once it becomes widespread.
SHARING POLICY: Any content material (text, images, documents
of any file type) originating with chincare.com may be presented
elsewhere on the condition that a notation (with or without linking)
is made that credits authorship. The material must be used in
its complete, unaltered form and presented in the same context, with
the same intent, as the original material on chincare.com. Regarding
material that is credited to a source of origin other than
the chincare.com webmaster's, please abide by internet copyright laws
and credit authorship appropriately.
ChinCare is an educational website
that was created for the edification of the pet chinchilla community.
It was founded on the principle that the pet
chinchilla community deserves to have ALL the available pet chinchilla
care information presented to them so that they can make informed
decisions for themselves that are in the best interests of
their chinchillas. We would rather that people make decisions
for themselves after actively, critically and thoroughly analyzing
the care information available to them so that in the end, their chins
get the absolute best. We believe that this should always be the ultimate
goal: to ensure the health, happiness and safety of our pet chinchillas,
to put their best interests FIRST.
Thus, while we won't knowingly link to site articles whose information
is dangerous or false, we do link to sites and site articles that
doesn't always seem to jibe with our point of view. We also feature
information from (when it does not profit pelting and the fur industry,
because supporting completely unnecessary
killing does NOT benefit our pets) older books
authored by pelters and pet chinchilla informative sites regardless
of that site owner's choice of club affiliations or attitude toward
pelting. And, when we link to stores under Supplier Sites, we expect
our site users to assume responsibility for shopping
We believe that education is the key to ensuring competent,
responsible chinchilla care and preventing neglect, abuse and
homelessness. That is why we have gathered and presented as much information
as possible- including scientific and veterinary information- so that
devoted chinparents can research topics and find what they need to
know via articles, documents, websites, magazines, reference libraries,
online communities, books, etc.
As an educational site, we encourage the sharing of information per
Use of chincare.com binds the user to our current Copyright
Notice and Site
Disclaimer. References to the webmasters for the aforementioned
sites and the use of "we," "us," or "our"
in this article refers to the persons whose emails are contained in
Although every effort has been made to verify the site content and
material (text, images, documents of any file type) of chincare.com,
for legal reasons it must be clearly stated that ultimately the site
content and material is the express opinion of the cited authors or
the chincare.com webmasters and there is no liability whatsoever assumed
by them nor any guarantee offered to those who choose to use the site
content and material of the aforementioned sites. There is also no
suggestion, advice or recommendation on chincare.com that is intended
to serve as or substitute for the expert diagnosis and treatment of
an exotics specialist vet.
By providing links to external sites, the webmasters
for chincare.com claim no association with, endorsement or guarantee
of the information, products or opinions of those sites, AND vice
versa. It is our site readers' responsibility to thoroughly
research and ask questions before accepting or acting on the information,
products or opinions of the external sites listed on chincare.com.