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The Rescue Report, Setting Standards for Responsible Breeding, Ownership, Neutering

~ contributed by Lori E

When I moved to Alabama five years ago to get remarried, my 12 chinchillas made the trip with me. They all seemed to like the South, and soon kits began arriving regularly. As much as my husband loved the older chins, he really fell hard for the kits! So we decided to keep them, and began to consider ways to contain our chinchilla population. There really aren't a lot of options in a situation like this, and at the advice of our vet, we began the process of neutering our males.

At that time, I knew very little about this procedure, but we had complete faith in our vet, and he felt that the surgery would carry minimal risk. Many years later, having had over a dozen of our males neutered, I would have to agree with him. All of the surgeries have gone well, and recovery times have been quite rapid. Despite our positive experience with this procedure, you need to be aware that there are risks involved, as there is with any type of surgery.

Our chins have always tolerated the Isoflurane gas (used as anesthesia) very well, but there's no guarantee that every chin will do so. You'll also want to watch closely for signs of infection, and check the incisions daily. Personally we haven't seen any problems with the incisions healing, or the stitches not remaining intact, but you need to be aware of the possibility. Also, the vet you choose (and his surgical technique) are an important consideration here. According to my vet, a chinchilla neuter is trickier that that of a cat or dog - it's actually more similar to neutering a rabbit, since the inguinal canal needs to be closed up. So, chances are your vet might want to do a bit of research on this, if he/she hasn't done the procedure before.

I really haven't seen any significant behavioral or personality changes in any of our males that have been neutered. The guys pretty much seem the same - they may be a bit more sedate, but not shockingly so. Life in the chin room is definitely more peaceful, as there's no frantic mating activity going on. I think it's a common misconception (so to speak) that neutering a male means that he will be castrated. This is not so - two incisions are made on the abdomen, and the testes are removed (the penis remains untouched). Consequently, I don't feel that neutering a chin is cruel in any way that affects them.

Because I had no information to guide me, I had to wing it when figuring out how to deal with the recovery period after surgery and how soon to return the chin back to his home cage. I found that the incisions healed in 7 to 10 days, and for that period of time, I kept the newly neutered chin in a single level cage. Without exception, all of my males slept a great deal for the first 2-3 days after surgery, and then gradually returned to their normal level of activity. I applied an ointment called Otobiotic twice a day to their sutures. After the 7-10 days of healing, I returned them to their home cage.

There were no problems with them being accepted back into their home cage. All the other chins (both male
and female)
in the home cage would come up to them and take an obligatory sniff at the suture site, and that was extent of their interest. I have 7 chin cages and all of them have accepted neutered boys back without a problem. I have read on the Net of other folks who've had a difficult time reintroducing their chins back into the home cage - perhaps the recovering chins were held out of the home cage for a lot longer time than 10 days. When you do decide to reintroduce a chin back into his original cage after surgery, watch very carefully so you can assess what the reception for him is going to be. If you are considering neutering one of your chins, consider if the advantages outweigh the risks involved. For us, it was a necessity, as the 30 chins we now currently have keep my hands full, especially as our chin population begins to age. I'm very grateful that all our experiences with neutering have been positive.