site map/ about us, copyright/ pet chin resources (clubs, books, all star sites)/ critical points

make a difference: fur-free pledge, fur-free society/ confronting cruelty/

Rescue & Rehoming Pages (site map lists page contents). Let's Home Those In NEED Before We Breed,
The Rescue Report, Setting Standards for Responsible Breeding, Ownership, Neutering

*Breeding/ Mating Myths
*Recommended Reading
*Breeding Basics For The Surprised New Chinparent (rotational feeding method)
*Standards for Responsible Breeding (our philosophy, breeding standards, nfb: "not for breeding" factors!)
*Screening for Responsible Ownership (examples: adoption contracts and procedures)

*Articles: Breeding, Mutation Colors, Baby-Saving, Determining Gender, etc.
*Zebedee's Story: Hand-Raising Kits
*Neutering (articles, introduction, why neuter, checklist, factors to consider)
*Inbreeding, Linebreeding and Why Pet Breeders Shouldn't (articles, breeding for health and temperament)


1) "If a male and female are kept separately in cages about an inch apart, they cannot mate."
Actually, they can, although this is relatively uncommon. The male chinchilla's penis is sheathed, it is the sheath that is observable when the male's underside is examined. The penis itself is inside the protective sheath and the penis extends out, on average, about 1 - 1.5 inches long. Male and female cages should be separated by at least a few inches of space or better yet, they can be covered to avoid territorial as well as mating issues.

2) "If a couple has never reproduced, they never will."
False. Through our rescue networking alone we've heard of M/F pairs that went anywhere from a couple to seven years before finally having a litter. Unless they have been spayed (spaying is unnecessary and inadviseable except as an emergency procedure), neutered or examined by an exotics specialist vet and found to be physically incapable of reproducing, the possibility does indeed exist.

3) "Chinchillas that are related won't mate."
Unfortunately, they will and inbreeding can cause deformity and retardation in the offspring. It's important to separate opposite-sex littermates and kits from their
opposite-sex parent at eight to ten weeks of age, no later.

"Seniors can't or won't reproduce."
Wrong. Unless neutered, a male is capable of impregnating a female at any age and as explained in point 16 of Standards for Responsible Breeding, allowing seniors to mate jeopardizes the health and even the life of both the female and offspring.

5) "
You can let the opposite sexes play together, just intervene before they mate."
By the time the male chinchilla gives an indication of mating by mounting the female chinchilla, the deed is pretty much done and there is no real reaction time in which to intervene.

6) "Chinchillas MUST be bred, or bred before a certain age."

Chinchillas do not "need" to breed, they do not experience "pon farr" like the Vulcans in Star Trek and they get along just fine in same-sex groups. There has been some speculation in the past among ranchers and breeders that females who are not bred in their first few years may have trouble getting pregnant later, but those of us who do rescue can testify that there are no guarantees to that effect; females can and OFTEN do get pregnant for the first time when they're a few years old or older.


Breeding Chinchillas2Home
Breeding and Adoption Standards Curiosity Rats
Breeding Chinchillas Cheeky Chinchillas
Breeding Considerations Spoiled Chins
Breeding Philosophy ChinBin in Oregon
Breeding Your Chinchilla
Breeder's Creed Chintasia
Casualties of Reckless Breeding ChinCare
Chinchilla Breeding cUTe Chinchillas
Considering Breeding Chinchillas Cuddle Bug Chinchillas
My Philosophy About Breeding Chinchilla Tales
Philosophies, Note About Breeding Purple Sage Chinchillas (scroll to view)
Questions To Ask Buyers and Breeders Chinchillies
The Decision to Breed Applewood Chinchillas
Things to Think About Before Breeding Midwest Exotics
What About Breeding? Keeping Chinchillas As Pets- A Guide
What It Takes To Be A Good Breeder Seward Ohio Pet Chinchilla

(rotational feeding method)

If you're reading this, you may have bought your chinchilla from a pet store. We purchased our first chin from one as well and unfortunately pet stores often choose to group chinchillas by color, in correspondence with their price range, rather than grouping them by sex to prevent careless breeding. Coupled with the fact that pet store employees often err in determining gender, it's not at all uncommon for people to take home a mis-sexed or pregnant chin from a pet store.

In any case, if your chinchilla has just given birth, this is what you need to know/ do right now, and if you suspect that anything is seriously amiss, contact your exotics specialist vet without delay:

Remove the father immediately and permanently. Unless your chins have pedigrees that not only show lineage but also reveal details about the medical (malocclusion, heart murmur) and temperament (fur biting, high-strung) history for at least two generations back, and unless you've done your research on topics like the lethal factor, you don't want to incur the risk of producing more chinchillas of questionable health and vitality, see NFB.

The father will need his own cage, if you don't have one handy put him in a carrier and purchase another cage right away. We recommend covering cages with a sheet, for stress reduction and privacy reasons, as described on Routines. DO NOT place the father's cage next to the female and kits! By the same token, do not put the kits, once weaned from mother, next to the female's cage. While the idea of "separate yet together" appeals to human rationale in a happily idealistic way, chinchillas are all territorial to some extent and that arrangement often creates an antagonizing, teasing and provoking experience for all.

Situating the maternity cage near any other cage puts detrimental stress on the nursing female when she's at her most protective and territorial, and if either cage can reach the toes, fingers or face of the other, there can be violent results. When a family member can see but is prohibited from interacting with his family it does him no favors, and in fact it can cause stress-related problems such as fur biting and depression. Put the father's cage out of sight of the maternity cage, at least across the room, and read through these points for advice on how the father can spend time with the kits during the weaning period.

If the kits are of both sexes and you wish to keep them and the parents after the kits are weaned, you can do so by separating them into two cages by gender.
Or, if your exotics specialist vet has a background in successfully neutering chinchillas, you can look into getting the father neutered and put back with his family after the one month neutering recovery period (chinchilla fathers would normally help in raising the kits), but any male kits will still need to be separated after the weaning period to prevent inbreeding with their sisters or mother. Removing the kits by ten weeks at latest is the right thing to do and failing to do so will put stress on the opposite-sex parent because the kits are expected to leave once they mature; the mother does not want her male offspring pursuing and mounting her once her nursing job is done.

Right now, though, it is urgent that the father is separated from the mother in order to prevent a breed-back. "Breed-back" is the term used to describe what happens when a female becomes pregnant right after birthing and one litter follows the other, this is possible because the female has two uteruses and is capable of becoming pregnant again right after birthing. If she gets pregnant while still nursing, the stress imposed on her body from nursing and carrying young at the same time can cause a severe depletion of her body's resources that results in deficiencies in both the mother and young later on, such as malocclusion.

Carefully read points 10-13 in "Standards For Responsible Pet Chinchilla Breeding" below.

The mother should be cleaning and drying the kits, but if she hasn't gotten around to that and they're walking about wet, take a piece of soft cloth and very GENTLY help dry them. If you see the mother eating what looks like a small, bloody piece of meat, about the size of a quarter, that's the placenta (or afterbirth, see Azure Chinchilla's photo and explanation) and she's supposed to be consuming that for nourishment. She may still be bloody from birthing, if so it's alright to take her to a room without drafts and wipe her bloody spots clean with a warm, damp cloth, then blow dry while being careful not to overheat her, see The Wet Bath.

Although some pet breeders advise against dustbaths right after the female has given birth, to prevent dust from entering the birth canal, it's rather absurd considering that such a precaution wouldn't be observed in the wild. In any case, she can still have a Dustbath Massage and after a week she should be allowed dustbath (put dust on a piece of cloth, like an old pillowcase, that makes it easier for the kits to watch and imitate) so she can show the kits how to roll; that's a learned behavior. We also recommend that the mother be taken in for a professional examination by an exotics specialist vet after she has given birth, to ensure that she has expelled all kits and there are no other potential complications.

If the mother's current cage is not of safe mesh width (1" x ½" -OR- ¾" x ¾" for the cage walls and ½" x ½" for floors, shelves and ramps), then a cage that does have safe mesh width will need to be purchased immediately. Otherwise, the kits will walk right out of the cage they're in and on the outside almost anything can injure or kill them. If the mother's current cage DOES have safe mesh width but is multi-level, simply block off the upper levels until the kits are near weaning age or large enough to navigate the levels without significant risk.

Kits are born fully-furred, with eyes open and they can scamper about quite well, observe them closely to see that they all look well and are behaving normally. The mother doesn't necessarily put them in the nesting box herself, and if they don't get there on their own it's okay for you to place them in the nesting box. The mother will not reject the kits if handled by people, in fact that's an urban legend falsely applied to wild creatures, too (birds, rabbits, etc.). The only time it would be wise to be hands-off in the first few days after birthing is if the mother is a highly defensive, anti-social chin who is antagonistic towards the chinparent.

It is adviseable in the beginning, when holding the kits, to do so in front of the mother so that her protective instinct will be reassured by being able to observe your gentle, careful handling of her brood. Being handled by people is good, it helps socialize the kits to people and pet breeders routinely handle kits from the start, some even help pull the kits out if the mother's having trouble. Just remember that in the very beginning constant handling can interfere with their need for daytime sleep and time they should spend with their mother for bonding, comfort, warmth (until their fur thickens, they can get chilled) and feeding. Eventually the kits should be handled daily so they can develop an appreciation of people and pet life.

Determine the gender of the kits and weigh them daily to ensure they're gaining weight, they should initially be at 35 grams or more. If one is at that weight or a bit less then he is probably the runt, but not all litters have runt/s. Observe the runt closely while he attempts to nurse, then check his stomach for fullness after nursing.

It's important that the runt is monitored closely until he begins to put on weight and grow at the pace of the rest of the litter. If the runt is having difficulty nursing due to competition from littermates, then try this rotational feeding method, it gives the kit all the benefits of mother's milk and companionship:


1) Separate the kits according to compatibility (which is sometimes related to gender) and put them on 2-hour nursing rotation shifts. Do the 2-hour nursing rotation shifts for weeks 1 and 2.

The off-shift can stay in another (same cage setup as mother's) cage keeping dad company during the time the nursing shift is with mom.
From the very beginning kits should always have these essentials made available to them, do not ration, they will not be over-consumed:

Fresh pellets made specifically for chins, see specifications and pellet brand analysis on Nutrition.
Distilled or filtered water, see article for details about parasites and other water contamination.
A variety of fresh hays to encourage consumption and to keep continuously growing molars ground down.
A variety of safe, effective chew toys of varying hardness, to encourage gnawing interest and to keep continuously growing incisors trimmed.

... Also, fresh chinchilla dustbath offered in an appropriate container. See Grooming for details about types of dust, appropriate containers, combs and frequency of bathing.

2) Do 4-hour shifts for weeks 3 through 5.

3) Do 6-hour shifts from week 6 through 8, do not wean the kits any sooner! Try reuniting all the kits with mom during the eighth week because by that time they will be consuming mostly solid food, then allow them to spend until week ten benefitting from the extra bonding/ nursing time as a family.

If the runt is physically challenged to suckle, then handfeeding will be required immediately until you can get the kit in to be examined by your exotics specialist vet. Be advised that kit handfeeding formulas are different than those for adults. With handfeeding kits there is a potential for bloat and inadequate nutrition (among other benefits mother's milk contains protective immunoglobulins that will aid their immune function, per our vet).

he runt will need to be handfed according to the rotational schedule above: every two hours for weeks 1-2, every four hours for weeks 3-5 and every six hours for weeks 6-8. When not being handfed the runt should stay with his mother for comfort and bonding and to have regular access to the essentials (pellets, etc.,) as described in the rotational schedule.

Even if there is no conflict between kits that requires a rotation with the father, it's a good idea to give the mother a break once daily by allowing the father to spend up to a half hour with them, longer as they get older.

Carefully read points 14 and 15 in "Standards For Responsible Pet Chinchilla Breeding" below.

(our philosophy, breeding standards, nfb: "not for breeding" factors!)

Southern CA Rabbit and Pocket Pet Adoption: "As we start the new century, please take time to consider that rabbits and small pets die daily because there are too few 'forever homes' to accommodate them all." At ChinCare, where we are active in rescue, rehoming and homing at-risk ranch chinchillas, we believe that caring chinparents will agree that we should, "Home Those In NEED Before We Breed."

Our Philosophy

For those who will continue to breed, we feel strongly that there must be standards in place that will promote top health and temperament as the primary breeding goal. There are two crucial reasons why this should be so: because we are the caretakers upon which chinchillas are completely dependent and that creates a fundamental responsibility to prioritize their health and happiness before human ownership objectives, and because when breeding takes place primarily to improve the health and temperament of the species and those qualities do not become compromised for anything, be it the pursuit of superficial attributes or to accomodate a breeder's temptation to shortcut care, then everyone is positively benefitted. The breeder achieves a good reputation and loyal customer base, the chinchilla gets to lead a long, healthy, happy life, and their chinparent is able to enjoy a pet that is not a financial or emotional strain, such as comes with tending to a sickly, short-lived or adversely temperamented animal.

It's not that people shouldn't breed for size, conformation, mutation colors, etc., it's only that health and temperament should never be compromised in the process. Who wants a pretty chin that is high-strung and difficult, that incurs endless vet bills or drops dead young from genetic flaws, heart murmur, etc.? Speaking from years of experience doing chinchilla rescue, these are the chins that ultimately find their way to our doorstep and that of other rescue workers around the world and the rescue situation is already critical. NOW is the time for all pet chinchilla breeders to assume responsibility for the lives they create, and implementing standards that prioritize top health and temperament is a solid first step.

We offer the following suggestions for setting breeding standards and encourage submissions from our site readers:

1) Has considered same-sex pairs or neutering as an alternative to an M/F pair, has taken a good look at the issues that affect animals, including chinchillas, bred for pet purposes today: overpopulation, neglect, abandonment and abuse. Has assessed the supply-demand ratio and potential availability of "good homes" in the pet chinchilla market in their area, including having knowledge of the number of local competing breeders.

2) Does rescue or cooperates with rescue services in their area. Realizes that staying in touch with the rescue situation in their area is necessary for gauging what the output of their breeding program should be. Will even stop breeding temporarily in the event of an overflow of homeless pet chinchillas in their area. When breeders do rescue it makes them accountable and creates a “checks and balances” system that helps control overpopulation. It is a common misconception to assume that breeders who do rescue will be breeding the rescues, reputable breeders do not want to breed potentially inferior stock, see NFB.

3) Self-understanding: what was the purpose for breeding? the goals? why begin and when to end? Realizes that pet chinchilla breeding is not a "get rich quick" business once vet bills, equipment and time and hassle spent cleaning, exercising, introducing and caring for chins is factored in. In fact, time and again we've heard pet breeders relate that there is no fortune to be had from pet breeding, that it's self-supporting at best, not a "career opportunity."

4) Provides The Essentials, including keeping on hand the contact information of a full-service (and after-hours emergency) exotics specialist vet with experience in chinchilla health and reproduction. Always consults the vet for their expert diagnosis and treatment whenever health, reproductive, birthing or nursing issues arise; is aware of the antibiotic/ penicillin warning for chinchillas.

5) Has a thorough understanding of chinchilla genetics to help ensure offspring of superior health and temperament, health and temperament being the primary measure of quality in a pet chinchilla. Takes care when breeding for the "mutation" colors, acknowledging that this can potentially compromise the animal's health and temperament, see Mutation Caution (.doc)

6) Starts with hardy breeding stock, not small, weakly or scrawny chins and NEVER allows breed-backs
(back- to- back pregnancies) or inbreeding/ linebreeding.


Pet breeders are able to be selective and careful in choosing their breeding pairs, consequently the primary goal of producing chinchillas of TOP health and temperament is entirely attainable. The importance of doing that for the chin's sake is explained here. Chinchillas that are NFB should be regarded as pet quality, only.

When NFB's are indiscriminately bred, there is an increased likelihood of producing inbred (related chinchillas are sometimes indiscriminately housed together in pet stores), retarded, sickly, undersized and frail, short-lived, anti-social, or handicapped offspring. If these enfeebled offspring are sold to naive new
chinparents who indiscriminately breed, this contributes to a general degredation in the health and temperament of future generations of chinchillas.

A responsible breeder must know the medical (malocclusion, heart murmur) and temperament (fur biting, high-strung) history of the chins to be mated for at least two generations back, to prevent producing chinchillas of ill health and temperament. Since those factors are usually not known in the case of rescue, rehomed or pet store chins, they must be regarded as NFB.

A pedigree showing lineage is essential, to avoid inbreeding and because chinchillas that come under the lethal factor combination (a white chinchilla to any other type of white chinchilla, a velvet or TOV chinchilla to any other type of velvet or TOV chinchilla) must be regarded as NFB.

Chinchillas that have been given Ralgro, a hormone used to bring their coats into "prime" for pelting, must be regarded as NFB. The affects of this hormone on offspring is unknown and may be detrimental.

8) Takes an organized approach that accounts for the necessary time, expense and energy involved in providing a sanitary, non-odorous, temperature- controlled environment that is not accessible to other household pets. Chins are kept supplied with fresh hay, high quality feed, distilled or filtered water, safe gnawing toys, exercise and veterinary attention.

9) Is aware of what to expect and is prepared to cope: requirements of an expectant and birthing mother, the father's roll, the needs of the kits and how to handle emergencies such as difficulty birthing, reviving a kit, hand-rearing and what to do when kits fight.

10) When the mother is near littering, to prevent the kits from experiencing wall-climbing accidents or escapes, ensures that the mother is housed in a single level cage (no plastic and safe mesh width of 1" x ½" -OR- ¾" x ¾" for the cage walls and ½" x ½" for floors, shelves and ramps) and removes the exercise wheel until the kits are weaned or physically mature enough to use it safely. If the maternity cage floor has wire mesh as opposed to solid flooring, covers it with a sheet or wood board so that the kit's tiny legs don't fall through and risk serious injury. See Exercise for Breeding Chinchillas

11) Provides a sturdy nesting box, like a wooden house or hideaway with soft cloth (like the Chilla Pilla by Simply Chintastic or a baby blanket of fleece, something with no strings, fringe or loose weave) in the bottom for comfort and to help the kits retain body heat. The hideaway must be large enough for the mother to move about without accidentally injuring one of the kits, and so she can stretch out and comfortably nurse them.

12) Ensures that the maternity cage is located AWAY from household noise and traffic, pets and children, so there is as little stress as possible on the new mother and kits. It's strongly advised to cover cages with a sheet (as described on Routines) to help provide privacy, security and seclusion.

13) Moderate amounts of additional protein and vitamins/ minerals (see A Guide to Dietary Extras, and alfalfa hay is a good source of protein and calcium) are recommended for for pregnant/ nursing chins, but a responsible breeder never supplements (e.g., Nutri-Cal, Calf Manna, etc.) kits directly, as that can be lethal unless vet-advised.

Pregnant/ nursing chins should always receive both vitamin C and
calcium supplementing, their bodies are being depleted by the process of creating and nourishing new life. Supplementing calcium in particular at this critical time can prevent calcium deficiency and malocclusion from occurring in the mother or kits in the future. Kits will receive the benefits of supplementing through mother's milk in a form and concentration that their digestive system can handle.

14) Will NOT separate a kit from its mother before 8 weeks of age and will allow smaller or more frail kits to nurse up to 10 weeks. While kits may sample solid food as early as the first week they need the entire eight week weaning period as a process to gradually become accustomed to the adult's diet of hard, fibrous pellets and hay. Until the transition is complete they require the benefit of mother's milk and its vital nutrients. According to our exotics specialist vet, "Usually the mom will not tolerate the babies nursing once they get old enough and they should be allowed to nurse until that time, be it 8 or 9 weeks of age. They receive protective immunoglobulins via the milk which helps with immune function."

15) Always separates chinchillas of the opposite sex who are related, to prevent inbreeding, after the 8-10 week weaning period is over. Knows that chinchillas will mate regardless of whether they're related and doesn't allow that to happen due to the risk of deformity and retardation inherent in inbreeding.

16) Does not breed past the point of the chin's youthful strength and vitality- seven years for the male, five for the female. Average life expectancy for chinchillas in the wild is 8 years, in captivity it's 10-15 years. After the age of five, reproduction for the female becomes significantly more stressful and demanding on her body, resulting in the likelihood of birthing complications that can include death for her or the offspring. When the mother's body has been depleted of much of its vitamin and mineral supply from giving birth to previous litters, this can lead to physical and mental infirmities (deformity, inherited calcium deficiency, retardation) in both the mother and kits. At five and seven, respectively, breeding female and male chins deserve the reward of a relaxing, enjoyable retirement.

17) Always checks first with the Animal Abuse Crime Database and The National Animal Abuse Registry, requires picture identification for proof that the adoption candidate is not a minor- or- requires picture ID of both parent and adoption candidate to ensure that the accompanying adult is in fact the parent and that the care of the chinchilla will take place with adult sponsorship and supervision.


A responsible breeder ALWAYS uses an evaluation system, screening criteria and/or checklist to determine adoption candidate competence, responsibility and long term commitment BEFORE making the sale or finalizing placement. They will not sell simply because someone comes along with the right money, and FTGH is out of the question. A competent owner will know these critical points, is prepared to provide all The Essentials and will be able to successfully complete this Adoption Contract/ Qualification Assessment (.doc).

See: Responsible Rescue and Rehoming

Examples: Adoption Procedure, Applications, Contracts, Cares Sheets, Surrender Forms, etc.

19) Will always disclose all health and temperament problems in the history of the chin, as well as describing any needs/ preferences the chin may have.

20) Whenever possible, will deliver the chin to the adoption candidate's home in order to ensure that the chin will be entering a clean environment where the proper setup, such as air conditioning and supplies, are present.

21) Will impose a significant adoption fee of at least 50 USD per chin (charging more is strongly adviseable). Charging an adoption fee is absolutely necessary, it's not an act of greed on the part of the one charging it. Rather, an adoption fee gives the adoption candidate an opportunity to provide proof of their financial competence and ability to cover veterinary and routine care expenses for their future pet. It also discourages unscrupulous persons who seek out cheap or free animals for unethical purposes, such as hoarding, selling to laboratories, etc. FTGH puts a chin's life in danger.

22) Provides a care sheet (.doc) containing: basic information on health, nutrition, dental health, housing, exercise, grooming, inital bonding and interaction, toxicities (antibiotics and penicillin, cleaners, wheels, chews, plastic, etc.) AND the breeder's contact information (email, website, phone) should the adoption candidate need advice, assistance or to give up the chin for any reason.

23) Supplies the adoption candidate with a sample bag of the pellets the chin is accustomed to so that they can make a smooth, gradual transition to a new pellet brand. Additionally, if shipping, ensures the chin travels with a hay cube for snacking/ gnawing and a small piece of carrot or apple for moisture.

24) Only ships when the temperature at the starting, layover and ending points can be maintained at 70°F or LOWER, humidity at 60% or LOWER.

25) Actively receives mentoring and support from a pet organization or nearby breeder, such as:
The Chinchilla Club: Breeder's Organization, Breeder's Directory

NCS, the National Chinchilla Society of the UK: this pelt-free club accepts overseas subscriptions to their bi-monthly gazette. There are shows and events for UK members.


Breeding Guides, Detailed:
Azure Chinchillas, ChinBin in Oregon, Ebony Dragon Chinchillas, Underhill Chinchillas

Birth to 100 Days in Picture and Video
Cheeky Chinchillas

Birth photos Chinchilla-Lexicon

Birthing photos, showing kit emerging tail first Midwest Exotics

Brevicaudata- type chins, breeding concerns

Chin-Cross Calculator Silverfall Chinchilla

Coat Color Mutations Genetics Encyclopedia (.pdf) Not chinchilla-specific, but good insights

Color and Basic Genetics, Dominant Mutations, Recessive Mutations Azure Chinchillas

Comparative Placentation In The Chinchilla Comparative Placentation Website

Determining Gender Photos, Sexing: Cheeky Chinnies, Chinchilla-Lexicon, Chintasia (scroll to view), Chinnychinchins, Chinwags, Garvey Chinchillas, Kits N Class, Lima Chinchillas

When sexing chinchillas, it is even more important to look at the anogenital difference (the space between the anus and the genitals) then the genitals themselves! It's very easy to mistake the urethral cone for a penis, especially in kits, so don't look at the genitals alone as this can be misleading. Males have a space or gap between their penis and anus, females have no gap between their urethral cone and anus. To determine whether or not there is a gap, gently lift up the penis or urethral cone to investigate. The penis will be able to be lifted to reveal a gap (smaller in kits, wider gap in adults) between the penis and anus. The female's urethral cone cannot be lifted because it is in immediate proximity to the anus. Also, if one looks very closely, there is a tiny slit in the urethral cone.

"The anogenital distance in males is about twice as long as in females. Male chinchillas do not have a scrotum, and the testes remain primarily in the abdominal cavity. In females, the anus is immediately caudal to the cone-shaped urethral papilla (urinary and reproductive opening). A membrane except during estrus (3-5 days) and parturition normally seals the female vagina." (ref- New Hope Animal Hospital)

Difficult Births, Handfeeding Formulas, Saving Kits: Azure Chinchillas, ChinBin in Oregon,
Chinchilla Club Community, Chinny Chin Chins, Chintasia, Davidson Chinchillas,, Ebony Dragon Chinchillas,
Galen's Garden, Granite City Chinchillas, Kingdom Chinchillas (msn),
Seward Ohio Pet Chinchilla, Spoiled Chins,
Overlook Chinchillas, Priory Chinchillas, see Information> Health & Behavior> Hand-rearing

Dominant and Recessive Genes Crystal Chinchillas

Estrous Cycle Definition and Description Wikipedia

Female Anatomy Chinchillas Unlimited
"Anatomically, female chinchillas have: 1 pair of ovaries with fallopian tubes, a bicornate (two horned) uterus, 2 cervical apertures. They are spontanious ovulators and come into oestrus roughly every 25-42 days."

Genetics and Fur Color: ChinMania, Treasured Pets Farm, Underhill Chinchillas

Gestation Calendar Amazing Chinchillas

Growth and Reproduction of the Chinchilla: Age at Vaginal Opening, Oestrous Cycle, Gestation Period, Litter Size, Sex Ratio and Diseases Frequently Encountered (author's transl) ENTREZ PUBMED ARTICLE ABSTRACT
Jikken Dobutsu. 1977 Jul;26(3):213-22. [Article in Japanese] Kuroiwa J, Imamichi T.

"The paper deals with observations on growth and reproduction of the chinchilla in recent 4 years started from 1966 at this laboratory. There were large variations in age of vaginal opening (less than 71 days-308 days) with an average of 173.2+/-57.6 days in 45 females. The average length of 100 oestrus cycles in 24 females was 35.7+/-7.9 (15-62) days. The mean period of 5 gestations in 5 females was 110.4 (108-112) days. Eighty-one out of 123 litters were born between March and August during 3 years, and parturition never occurs in December.

"The most suitable season for reproduction of chinchillas may be from January to April, and a summer anoestrous seems to be present in August to early September as reported by Weir. The litter size ranged from 1 to 4 with a mode of 2 (46.3%) and an average of 1.90+/-0.76. More male kids were produced at birth at this laboratory, and sex ratio was 133.7 (98 females and 131 males). In 1973, 37 chinchillas gave birth to 71 kids with an average litter size of 1.92, and 59 of them were successfully weaned (1.59 per litter). Of these kids, 50 (1.35 per liter) attained 240 days of age (adulthood). Among 91 subjected to investigation for causes of death, 23 (25.3%) were dead during newborn period, and 9 and 5 adults were dead of malocclusion (9.9%) and the prolapse of rectum respectively."

Kits, Details of Raising Crystal Chinchillas: see Breeding Articles, then Raising Babies

Lethal Factor: ChinBin in Oregon, Chinchilla Tales, Cozier Chinchillas: Mutation Crosses page under Colours/ Genetics

Light: "Litter size, weaning success, and nursing mortality in chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera) in relation to cage illumination"


Mutation Chinchilla Colors, Photos/ Descriptions (all colors besides the original gray are mutes):
Chinchillas As Pets, Chintasia, Cozier Chinchillas: see Colours/ Genetics, Ebony Dragon Chinchillas,
For the Love of Chinchillas, Granite City Chinchillas- Royal Persion photos and articles,
IG Chinchilla (Google translation), Moonlight Chinchillas: see Colours, Rose Chinchillas, Quest Haven Pets,
Royal Persian Angora Chinchillas, Österreich

Mutations: Recognized Mutations, Color Mutation Hybrids

Outside Polygamous Breeding Unit- Photos and Article Garvey Chinchillas

Photos of Birthing, Kit Photos Chinchilla Homepage

Photos of Heat (estrus) and Mating (copulatory) Plugs: Chintasia, ChinCare, (Google translation),
Nippon Chinchilla Rescue

Photos: Placenta, Nipples, Nursing (Breastfeeding) Postures

Photos: Aborted/ Mummified Kits, Placenta- The Afterbirth in Detail Azure Chinchillas

Predicting Color by Percentage,
by Punnet Squares ChinNet

Reproduction: "The female has a vaginal closure membrane that is only open during estrus and parturition. She expels a waxy plug from the vaginal opening during estrus. She also expels a plug following successful mating. They are seasonally polyestrous from November to May with an estrous cycle of about 40 days. Gestation period is long at 111 days. The female has a cone-shaped clitoris that at quick glance may resemble a penis. The male has testes that are located inguinally without a true scrotal sac. Puberty for both sexes usually occurs at 10-12 months of age in the fall." (ref- Heidi L. Hoefer, DVM, DABVP,

Sperm Collection, Preservation and Reproductive Research: endocrine and reproductive database (.doc), storage of semen (.pdf), obtention and cryopreservation of spermatozoa (.doc), spermatazoa cryopreserved in different extenders (.pdf), spermatozoa collected by electroejaculation (.pdf), electroejaculation and the effects of anesthesia on seminal characteristics (.pdf)

Superfoetation Azure Chinchillas

The Composition of Chinchilla Milk (.pdf)

Torn Teat Luv N Chins II

"TOV" or "Touch of Velvet"

Videos and Photos of kits and their parents Michael's Chinchilla Homepage

Videos of birthing and normal, breach births discussed Spoiled Chins

Videos: Chinchilla laniger (Long-Tailed Chinchilla) giving birth, kits nursing and courtship, mating by ARKive

Weight Gain in Pregnant Chin and Kits Bettina's Fluffy Chins


by Julie, from a now archived article about hand-raising kits that was featured on Temescal Valley Ranch

Regarding Zebedee's 'food' when I was hand-rearing her. It was clear that most milks - baby/puppy, etc., wouldn't be suitable, partly because of them being low in the fats she would require for growth. Therefore, good old fashioned evaporated milk was used - if my memory serves me correctly, I used one part evaporated milk to two parts water. This was then fed to Zebedee through a dropper, I found it was much easier to control the tiny amounts her little mouth could cope with using a dropper rather than a syringe. She was fed like this every two hours (I was very lucky that my employers allowed me to take her to work and allowed me to take a break every two hours to feed her), even during the night, for quite a while, then as she got older/bigger and could drink larger amounts at a time the feeds became further apart. I then started her on solids and obviously introduced her to a sand bath!

With regard to sleeping arrangements, because she was so tiny but had to be taken away from her mother, I put her in a thick wooden box (it was actually the nesting box from the main cage), turned so the opening was at the top, covered it with a cloth and during the night, put the gas fire on very, very low, with the box a few feet away from it. This kept the wood slightly warm to the touch, not hot, and consequently kept Zebedee warm! After a short while when she appeared strong and was very, very actively trying to and nearly getting out of the box, she was moved into a small wire cage and moved into my bedroom with me!

Also, when she was first born, during the day she did regularly 'sleep' on my person, that is, in my bra! Again, to keep her warm and she was quite happy to stay there for long periods of time! As I say, my vet was amazed that she survived; during the first couple of weeks of her life, I was taking Zebedee to the vet every 2-3 days so that her wounds and weight/development could be checked. The fact that she's now 8 speaks for itself! Obviously, I was very lucky, she must have been a strong baby, and she thrived, has had a very good life (except for her numerous 'accidents'), and because I hand-reared her, we are very, very close.

You may also be interested to know that Zebedee was actually one of three babies- two babies born on the Saturday which by the time I got up on Sunday morning the mother had killed both of them. The cage was totally cleaned out and later that morning, I went out for a couple of hours. On my return, watching the television, I was aware of a squeaking noise coming from the cage, the mother was sat on one of the perches but 'dived' into the nesting box. I immediately knew there was something wrong. Opened the cage, removed the mother from the nesting box, put my hand in the nesting box and pulled out a badly injured Zebedee - she had obviously been born a day after the other babies! I don't know if this sort of 'delayed' birth happens often with Chinchillas or if this again makes Zebedee a very, very special Chinchilla!

(articles, introduction, why neuter, checklist: preliminary questions to ask yourself and the vet,
factors to consider: foresight, lifestyle, recovery period, possible complications

Spaying is inadviseable except as an emergency procedure, it is much more involved and invasive for a female chinchilla than neutering is for a male. Female chinchillas do not experience the same high risk of uterine cancer that justifies the routine spaying of female rabbits. (ref- Bucky's Bunny Barn,

Neutering Articles, Explore the Pros and Cons

Also see: Photo and explanation of a neutering operation, a Google translation from

Castration Pros and Cons Chinchilla Quest
Castration with complications Chinchillas4Life
Introducing Spike: Neutering effect on relationships eRodent
Joey perseveres despite a troubled recovery period Joey's Medical History
Overview of a Neutering: A narrative emphasizing the importance of finding a vet with experience Chinnitude
Pepper's Story: Told from the chin's point of view Kingdom Chinchillas (msn)
Planned Chinniehood: Over a dozen neutered successfully Lori E.
Surgical considerations Pet Lovers


Neutering and castration are basically synonymous. Both indicate the removal of the testicals (NOT the penis) in the male which incapacitates his reproductive capabilities. (ref-

Neutering does NOT equal "certain death." The anti-neutering prejudice in the U.S. has been fueled by some very sensationalized forum stories of neuterings gone awry, which were preached far and wide by people who reflexively bought into the hype even though they personally had no experience with neutering. The fears projected onto this procedure are based primarily on an outdated attitude toward the use of anesthesia, which is of course necessary to perform the procedure. There is very little risk inherent in the neutering procedure itself, it is a very straightforward operation. And chinchillas today are successfully anesthetized and resuscitated all the time in connection with medical procedures, we're no longer in the "dark ages" where that's concerned. The intent of this article is to
make a fairly thorough examination of what neutering entails, examining the whys, the expectations and the risks, so that chinparents can decide for themselves whether this is a good choice for them and their chin.

Since our first neutering, which ended badly because the chin happened to have a rare allergic response to anesthesia, we've had two exotics specialist vets successfully neuter over two dozen of our boys as of 2008. We know others (from our rescue work in the U.S.) who've had a dozen or more neuterings done and Humane Societies also frequently neuter chins before rehoming them. In other countries where neutering is routine, one rescue we correspond with has had literally HUNDREDS of neuterings!

This just goes to say that as with anesthetizing, it IS possible to do this (neutering) safely. ANY surgical procedure performed on chins should not be taken lightly, take time to read the neutering articles above as well as ALL the information below. For this section we've consulted at length with our two neutering-experienced exotics specialist vets as well as attended and observed, photographed and documented, several neutering surgeries.

Why Neuter?

In an ideal world, pet owners would adopt only correctly-sexed, same-sex pairs and breeding would be left to those with the knowledge, preparation and financial capability to embark on this serious endeavor. In the real world, chinchillas in the U.S. are frequently mis-sexed, often by pet stores, and chinparents who accidentally end up with a breeding pair and don't want to continue reproducing (see NFB, "Not For Breeding," which details why some chins should NOT be bred) are left with the choice of getting another cage and separating males and females (after the kits are weaned) or rehoming one of the sexes. For those chinparents who want to keep the original M/F pair together but don't want any more litters, they will need to consider neutering.

Neutering lowers the testosterone level in males and this helps Alpha males (those with a stronger dominance and mating drive) to be less overbearing with BOTH males and females. Consequently, when an Alpha male is neutered he'll gradually decrease the persistent mounting that can instigate conflicts between him and his male or female cagemate.

The most compelling argument made by those of us doing rescue work is that until there are enough good homes for every chin already born, and more good homes prepared to make the long term commitment for those about to be born, neutering helps prevent careless overpopulation and all the tragedy accompanying it.

Checklist: Preliminary Questions To Ask Yourself And The Vet

When you hear about neutering tragedies, it's often because one of the points below was unobserved or violated.
Neutering requires precautionary steps, foresight and planning
. If you read through this Checklist and Factors to Consider and find yourself doubting that neutering is the right choice in your situation, you can explore other options such as rehoming one of the sexes or
finding a same-sex cagemate for the remaining chin, or, purchase another cage, separate M and F, then find same-sex cagemates for both.

1) How old is the chin? Ideally, neutering should be performed between 1-4 years old, after the male has finished growing and during the time his vitality and ability to heal quickly are at its peak. Seniors (8+ years) heal too slowly and their system may not withstand the operation and healing process. If you're considering neutering a middle-aged chin between 5-7, be sure to have the chin thoroughly examined and his health approved for the procedure by an exotics specialist vet with successful chinchilla neutering experience.

2) Is the vet an exotics specialist with past success in small animal surgeries, preferably chinchilla neutering? If not experienced, will he be supervised during the procedure or at least thoroughly mentored beforehand by an exotics specialist vet that DOES have chinchilla neutering experience? An exotics specialist has the training to prepare for and properly control the factors involved in operating on anesthetized small and exotic animals but it is the vet with successful chinchilla neutering experience that can literally make the difference between a successful operation and suffering or death.

3) Will the exotics specialist vet be giving the patient a thorough exam before the procedure, especially to check for the presence of heart murmurs? A heart condition may make neutering inadviseable.

4) Will Isoflurane or Sevoflurane gas be the type of anesthesia used? Those types are chin-safe.

5) Does the exotics specialist vet perform the chinchilla neutering on a towel placed over a heating pad or on a heated operating table to help maintain body temperature? This is necessary.

6) Will the vet place gel on the eyes just after the chin is anesthetized to ensure that the corneas do not dry out during surgery? An experienced exotics specialist vet may feel that he can forego this because he has a routine and the operation is completed in about seven minutes, we prefer to have this precaution taken regardless.

7) Will the vet's assistant monitor heart rate, anesthesia and breathing by monitors as well as keep a hand on the patient's heart to respond immediately to any adverse changes during the procedure? Observing these safety measures is important.

8) Does the exotics specialist vet use catgut as the internal suture material and when closing the incisions externally, does he use staples or surgical glue or, if using sutures (stitching), does he at least turn them inside so the chin can't pick at them?

Suture is always used internally and then the incisions can be closed externally using something else, like surgical glue or staples. In our experience, catgut does not cause tissue reaction the way that synthetic suture material does inside the wound, and tissue reaction can lead to abscessing. A chin who is having a tissue reaction from synthetic sutures may strain to remove the source of irritation to the point of giving himself a hernia.

Turning exernal sutures inside can prevent the chin from pulling on them and causing complications during recovery, but with surgical glue there is nothing external to pick at (we've never had experience with staples), but in any case a collar is often required for the first part of the recovery period because there are chins who will persistently lick or pick at the operation site, regardless.

9) Right after the operation, does the exotics specialist vet administer a shot for pain and then place the patient on towels in an incubator with the heat on low along with some pellets and distilled or filtered water (which need to be dropped off by the chinparent prior to surgery) so that the chin can be kept under observation for at least 4-6 hours? During the incubator observation period, does the vet check the towel for a damp spot and fecal droppings to ensure the resumption of healthy GI function and urination? This is extremely important.

10) Does the vet prescribe a short course (5 to 7 days) of antibiotics, usually Baytril, for the first days following surgery? This will help the chin's immune system resist the possibility of post-op infection. A pain medication such as Metacam is also adviseable during this period.

Factors To Consider
(foresight, lifestyle, recovery period, possible complications)

It would definitely be best to neuter if there is ANY chance of rehoming your chinchilla in the future. Chins should be neutered when they're young and it's the only guarantee later on that they will not be indiscriminately bred. As detailed in the next sub-section (Lifestyle), neutering decreases the male's dominance and mating drives (which instigate mounting behavior) so that a future pairing with either male or female will go more smoothly.

If you know that the chin will be kept by you for his lifetime, that he'll be in a same-sex situation always and both boys' dominance drives after the onset of sexual interest (about 6 months- 1 year old) remain low, then neutering is not really necessary. However, if one of the males emerges as an extreme Alpha, with an overbearing dominance drive, then neutering just that male only should be sufficient to address the persistent dominance mounting and reinstate compatibility.

Considering the over two dozen neuterings we've had as of 2008, and from the corroborating testimony of those we network with in rescue that confim this, neutering really IS an "instant solution" to relations in either an M/M of M/F pairing when there is an extreme Alpha male with an overbearing dominance and mating drive. This is not to say that these drives are bad, but with some males their hormones compel them to compulsively and persistently mount their cagemates and this can lead to potentially deadly fighting, or lethal retaliation by the subjugated chin who is forced to assert himself for self-preservation.

Neutering decreases the male's testosterone levels and that reduces his dominance and mating drives which diminish in approximately the following manner according to our observation and experience: Immediately after neutering the male performs less mounting and within the first few months after the neutering there is at least a 50% reduction. Over the course of the year following the neutering there is a further reduction of another 25-40% that is sustained thereafter, making the total reduction of the neutered male's dominance and mating drives about 75-90%. Translated into behavioral terms, this means that he will eventually mount seldom and will not be persistent about it when he does, it will become more of an absent-minded gesture.

We've also seen neutering positively affect males who were high-strung fur biters, but this is not a lobotomy by any means! A successfully neutered chin will behave exactly the same as before the operation, his personality and energy level will be unaffected, all the cute quirks will remain intact. It must be noted that neutering does not affect the territorial drive. A male will continue to be territorial after being neutered, he'll still guard and be possessive of his female and become irritated if any chin comes within the perceived boundaries of his cage. Thus, two neutered males cannot be put with a female/s, as there will be cagemate conflicts for territorial reasons.


What the operation site should look like: 2 days, 1 week after neutering

The chin will need a full month recovery time to ensure that two things happen:
1) That he heals completely without initial overexertion (either by getting back into his normal routine too quickly or from straining to pick at his operation site) that could cause the development of a hernia
2) Any remaining semen contained in the ejaculation tube must work itself out so that the chin cannot impregnate

You will notice a few things right after the operation, both are normal: there will be a damp, oily substance around the chin's eyes and his hips will appear somewhat drawn in. The oily substance is from the gel placed on the eyes just after the chin is anesthetized to ensure that the corneas do not dry out during surgery. The "caved in" appearance of the sides is a result of the chin drawing in his haunches in initial response to the pain/ discomfort right after the procedure. For the first twenty-four to fourty-eight hours, there may be some redness and swelling around the operation site.

The recovery setup must be prepared prior to the neutering so that the chin only needs to be placed there upon returning home. He needs a single level cage with no shelves, perches or exercise wheel and the cage can be wide, in fact, the wider the better. This setup will help prevent jumping and straining. These precautions are absolutely NECESSARY, a hernia can result from putting a neutered chin back into his normal routine too soon. The cage should be located in a place of quiet and privacy, out of sight of the other chins, household pets and traffic.

Give him a pillowcase, sheet or blanket (no strings, fringe or loose weave) in his cage to rest on (change daily), and keep his cage covered with a sheet to reduce stress and provide privacy and security, as described on Routines. TV is a MUST during his waking hours, this will help keep him distracted from licking or picking at the operation site and help him endure the otherwise tortorous boredom of the recovery process. Some soft background music while he sleeps would be soothing.

For the first twenty-four hours, the chin may be somewhat out of it and will need lots of sleep. ALLOW HIM TO REST undisturbed, don't expect him to act lively or eat much, neutering is a major operation and some down time afterward is perfectly normal. When he is acting more lively you can pick him up gently to cuddle him, to give him attention and affection for moral support but be sure to support his hind legs, do NOT let him flail about or stress the operation site!

For the first week, limit handling to once a day in order to examine the healing progress. It is best to have one person hold him while another examines the incisions to check for any potential problems such as continued or excessive redness and swelling. Some bruising of the anal sac is normal if the chin is wearing a collar and trying to pick at his operation site, but there should not be significant redness or swelling around the incisions after the first couple of days. We sometimes apply unscented Neutrogena Hand Cream or Neosporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment to the incision areas when we check them, to expedite healing. A supplemental note from DVM Glikis-Scott (was Fernandez) of the Birmingham Veterinary Clinic in MI, "stick to antibiotic ointment such as neosporin and avoid ointments containing a steroid for use on an incision in chins... sometimes steroids can impede healing."

On the fifth day, start doing Dustbath Massage daily. This will serve a VERY important role as a psychological pacifier, chins feel much better when they are able to keep clean and when they're not, they're susceptible to stress-related health and behavioral problems. Consult with your
exotics specialist vet first, but after 10 days he should be ready to take dustbath on his own and have daily exercise in a small chin-proofed area that is not conducive to jumping, such as an enclosed hallway.

When healing is proceeding correctly, without infection or complications, you will see fur growing back over the operation site. By the fourteenth day there should definitely be fur growing over the operation site and if there is not, there may be complications and a vet visit should be scheduled immediately.

If fur regrowth is present over the operation site on the fourteenth day, allow the chin to return to his normal cage setup and activity but he should not be placed with the opposite sex until one full month has elapsed from his neutering day, to ensure that the ejaculation tube has cleared completely.

Some chins become obsessed with licking or picking at their incisions regardless of whether the external closing material used was suture, surgical glue or staples. Sutures are always used internally regardless of what is used externally, so if the chin has external sutures and removes them (because they weren't turned inside to prevent picking), he'll be alright until you can rush him to your
exotics specialist vet. A collar may be prescribed to prevent him from more mischief.

If there is significant redness and swelling around the incisions after the first forty-eight hours, perhaps accompanied by a little whitish discharge (pus), this is an irritation or infection most likely caused by: a tissue reaction to the material (as previously mentioned, synthetic sutures, as opposed to catgut, are often the culprit) used to close the incisions, some piece of hay or other cage article poking into or around the operation site, or bacteria in the incision cavities from the chin's licking and picking at his incisions. Some internal swelling, with or without infection, may also cause a prolapsed penis.

A small irritation/ infection is not difficult to clear up, the incision cavities need to be flushed and disinfected and this is best accomplished using two people. One person should hold the chin and keep a clean, dry washcloth positioned under him while the other gets a CLEAN spray bottle and fills it part way with tepid distilled or filtered water (not tap) and sets the spray bottle's nozzle to "stream" rather than "spray." Aim into first one, then the other incision cavity and flush, the washcloth under the chin will catch the flushed water and discharge. Empty the spray bottle and fill partway with Hydrogen Peroxide and flush the incision cavities again to disinfect.

The person holding the chin should then towel dry the chin's tail and bottom with a new dry cloth, being careful not to stress the incision cavities. The person holding the chin should continue to do so while the other gently applies a light dab of a hypoallergenic moisturizer (Jojoba, Vitamin E oil, Aveeno, pure Aloe Vera,
unscented Neutrogena Hand Cream), Neosporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment or Silvadene (vet prescription) to the incision areas. Continue holding the chin for an additional 3-5 minutes after that so the topical treatment can be absorbed somewhat before the chin is put back into his cage. Follow this procedure once daily and you should see some improvement within 2-3 days.

If the infection or irritation appears more serious (is very inflamed, swollen, perhaps oozing) or did not respond to the flushing treatment, take you chin to see your exotics specialist vet immediately. The vet should prescribe medication to help the chin's immune system fight the infection. This is probably an abscess and if so, ask your vet's permission to use the following method of home treatment. As with flushing it requires two people and is to
be performed once daily:

1) Have one person sit while holding the chin securely on a towel on their lap while the other VERY gently squeezes (don't push down, instead, squeeze together and up) the pus from the incision cavities, which may be a bit stinky and will be an off-white to yellowish color and perhaps a bit chunky. This is much like squeezing a pimple, not fun, pretty gross, but necessary.

2) The person doing the squeezing should dab away the pus with a piece of sterile gauze or a clean, smooth cloth. Don't use a cottonball, those fibers could get inside the incision cavities and cause further complications.

3) Use the flushing treatment previously described, except that after flushing with the distilled or filtered water you need to check and see that the infection (pus) has been completely cleansed from the incision cavities (with an abscess it may take more than one flush with distilled or filtered water) before proceeding to the disinfecting Hydrogen Peroxide flush. DO NOT COVER AN ABSCESS after cleansing and disinfecting, don't put any topical treatment on it afterward unless veterinarian directed, an abscess needs to stay open to dry up and heal.

When fur begins to regow over the operation site that is a sign that the infection is clearing up and healing is beginning to take place. Continue to observe the abscess and treat it until the infection is gone and fur regrowth is in full progress. Then, once the recovery month is over, your chin will be ready to resume life as usual.

(additional articles, breeding for health and temperament)

Breeding Techniques by Azure Chinchillas provides additional information
Inbreeding/ linebreeding as defined on a dog-breeding site
Pros and Cons of Inbreeding and other terms defined on this cat-related site
The Canine Diversity Project, "The Downside of Inbreeding: It's Time For a New Approach"

This article derives from our research and also our longstanding experience as chinchilla rescue workers, it's our opinion on inbreeding, or "linebreeding" as it is sometimes referred to. The terms "inbreeding" and "linebreeding" are basically interchangeable since both involve breeding related chinchillas, in other words, breeding from within the same gene pool. (ref- Schreiber's "Chinchillas as a Profitable Hobby" and Mosslacher's "Breeding and Caring for Chinchillas")

Its seems that some breeders make the fine distinction of differentiating between the terms so that "inbreeding" may imply a pairing of closely-related chinchillas (father-daughter) while "linebreeding" may refer to a more distantly-related pairing (cousins). We don't intend to launch an in-depth study of all aspects of mutation chinchilla breeding and genetics within this article and we're not breeders ourselves, but we have read extensively on the subjects and in any case what we're advocating here is an ethical approach to breeding with regards to inbreeding/ linebreeding, not an instruction on breeding itself.

Inbreeding/ linebreeding has been used in the past by ranchers to find recessive traits in a herd where the history is not known, to breed recessive traits together to produce particular characteristics in the offspring, and it was through inbreeding/ linebreeding that the "mutation" colors were developed- recessive genes were brought to the forefront by that process. Breeding for mutation colors presents risks in itself, see Mutation Caution (.doc).

The intent of inbreeding/ linebreeding has always been centered on achieving a "product" desired by the fur industry- a particular coat color, quality and appearance; since the animals were ultimately to be killed for their fur there was no imperative emphasis on breeding for health and temperament. Ranching is a business and regardless of one's opinions regarding pelting, the fact is that market demands informed business practices to a large degree.

However, inbreeding/ linebreeding poses negative risks to the areas of health and temperament:
physical deformity, chronic illness, retardation and high-strung temperament in addition to sterility, size and vigor as named in the quotes below. According to the Humane Society of the United States (.pdf), animals that are inbred for specific colors can result in "severe abnormalities-- deafness, crippling of limbs, deformed sex organs, screw necks, anemia, sterility and nervous system disorders."

Responsible breeders who wish to achieve changes in the offspring's appearance can do so without compromising (by inbreeding/ linebreeding) the health and temperament of the offspring, they can simply breed animals that are unrelated but who possess excellent health and temperament in addition to those attributes (know their history) that will produce the desired appearance.

Problems with inbreeding/ linebreeding from the rancher's (pelter's) perspective:

"Inbreeding will concentrate and accentuate any faults present in the animals bred."
ref- .doc, Bickel's "Chinchilla Handbook"

"The great virtues of inbreeding as a method of breeding are that it brings to light hidden or recessive good and bad genetic factors in a group of animals, and it develops animals that have many genetic factors in common that can reproduce their own type. The weakness of this method of breeding is that if unduly prolonged it usully leads to a loss in vigor, size, and fecundity."

"the hidden weaknesses in the animals usually appear within the first few generations of inbreeding... By culling out the weaklings, monstrosities and freaks the breeder can purify his stock."

"As we have noted, prolonged close inbreeding usually results in smaller size, decreased health and vigor, and infertility."
ref- .doc, Houston and Prestwich's "Chinchilla Care"

"Linebreeding as such tends to be associated with risks and can, in fact, produce exactly the opposite result of what is intended. Breeders who wish to get involved with such experiments must own a sufficiently large breeding stock (at least 50 chins) before they should decide to embark on such a venture. Breeders are warned against pursuing line-breeding indiscriminately, as experienced breeders know that normal breeding with selected chinchillas can also be very stimulating."
ref- .doc, Mosslacher's, "Breeding and Caring for Chinchillas"

"There is one danger in intense inbreeding, and that is it could emphasize undesired genes at such a rapid rate, that it would be difficult to discard undesireable characteristics."
ref- .doc, Medow's, "The Chinchilla"

A chin whose frequent illnesses result in mounting vet bills, or who exhibits anti-social (urine-spraying, fighting, etc.) behavior or has a high-strung and difficult temperament is far more likely to get rehomed, dumped, neglected or abused rather than cared for, cherished and appreciated for a lifetime. This is a universally acknowledged fact of animal rescue.

When health and temperament are bred for FIRST, and not compromised for ANY reason, whether for desired superficial appearances (which can be achieved safely by breeding unrelated animals), expense or convenience of the pet breeder, then EVERYONE benefits: the chin who lives a long and healthy life, the chinparent whose pet is a source of joy rather than an economic burden and the pet breeder whose healthy, well-tempermented pets are a credit to their breeding program.

Colorful mutations (fur color, appearance) may help to make the initial pet sale, but if inbreeding/ linebreeding was involved, the compromise to health and temperament may result in the chin being discarded later and then EVERYONE loses. Whether or not it can be disputed that there might not be an immediate/ significant detriment to the health and temperament of the offspring caused by inbreeding/ linebreeding in a particular case is irrelevant, the fact remains that inbreeding was not intended to benefit and potentially jeapordizes chinchilla health and temperament and on that basis it should never be used. And sooner or later, the latent problems with in-breeding/ linebreeding will become obvious, producing deformity, retardation, etc. in the offspring.

What (such as appearance enhancements) can be achieved safely without risk (such as that inherent in inbreeding/ linebreeding) to health or temperament, should be done that way (safely) out of respect for the best interests of the chinchillas.