| Rescue & Rehoming Pages
map lists page contents). Let's
Home Those In NEED Before We Breed,
The Rescue Report,
Standards for Responsible Breeding, Ownership, Neutering
Basics For The Surprised New Chinparent (rotational feeding method)
for Responsible Breeding (our philosophy, breeding standards, nfb:
"not for breeding" factors!)
for Responsible Ownership (examples: adoption contracts and procedures)
Breeding, Mutation Colors, Baby-Saving, Determining Gender, etc.
Story: Hand-Raising Kits
(articles, introduction, why neuter, checklist, factors to consider)
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),
or examined by an exotics specialist vet
and found to be physically incapable of reproducing, the possibility
does indeed exist.
"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.
4) "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.
can let the opposite sexes play together, just intervene before they
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
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.
RECOMMENDED READING, FROM
BREEDERS AND RESCUERS
Breeding and Adoption
Standards Curiosity Rats
Chinchillas Cheeky Chinchillas
Philosophy ChinBin in Oregon
Your Chinchilla PetPlace.com
of Reckless Breeding ChinCare
Breeding cUTe Chinchillas
Breeding Chinchillas Cuddle Bug Chinchillas
Philosophy About Breeding Chinchilla Tales
Philosophies, Note About
Breeding Purple Sage Chinchillas (scroll to view)
Questions To Ask
Buyers and Breeders Chinchillies
Decision to Breed Applewood Chinchillas
to Think About Before Breeding Midwest Exotics
About Breeding? Keeping Chinchillas As Pets- A Guide
What It Takes
To Be A Good Breeder Seward Ohio Pet Chinchilla
BREEDING BASICS FOR
THE SURPRISED NEW CHINPARENT
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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:
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
for details about parasites and other water contamination.
A variety of fresh hays
to encourage consumption and to keep continuously growing molars
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.
Do 4-hour shifts for weeks
3 through 5.
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
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).
The 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"
FOR RESPONSIBLE PET CHINCHILLA BREEDING
"not for breeding" factors!)
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."
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:
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
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.
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.
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."
Essentials, including keeping on hand the contact information
of a full-service (and after-hours emergency) exotics specialist
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.
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
Starts with hardy breeding stock, not
small, weakly or scrawny chins and NEVER allows breed-backs
(back- to- back pregnancies) or inbreeding/
WILL NOT BREED CHINCHILLAS THAT ARE
NOT FOR BREEDING:
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
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,
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
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.
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.
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
Takes an organized approach that accounts for the necessary
time, expense and energy involved in providing a sanitary, non-odorous,
controlled environment that is not accessible to other household
Chins are kept supplied with fresh hay, high quality feed, distilled
or filtered water,
gnawing toys, exercise
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
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.
for Breeding Chinchillas
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
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.
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.
Moderate amounts of additional
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
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.
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
Until the transition is complete they require the benefit of mother's
milk and its vital nutrients. According to our exotics specialist
"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."
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.
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
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.
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.
SCREENING FOR RESPONSIBLE PET CHINCHILLA OWNERSHIP
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).
Responsible Rescue and Rehoming
Adoption Procedure, Applications, Contracts, Cares Sheets, Surrender
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.
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
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
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.
Provides a care sheet (.doc)
containing: basic information on health,
bonding and interaction,
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.
Supplies the adoption candidate with a sample bag of the pellets
the chin is accustomed to so that they can make a smooth, gradual
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.
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.
Actively receives mentoring and support
from a pet organization or nearby breeder, such as:
ARTICLES: BREEDING, MUTATION COLORS, BABY-SAVING, DETERMINING GENDER,
Breeding Guides, Detailed:
in Oregon, Ebony
to 100 Days in Picture and Video
photos, showing kit emerging tail first Midwest Exotics
type chins, breeding concerns Chinchillas.com
Calculator Silverfall Chinchilla
Color Mutations Genetics Encyclopedia (.pdf) Not chinchilla-specific,
but good insights
and Basic Genetics, Dominant
Mutations Azure Chinchillas
Placentation In The Chinchilla Comparative Placentation Website
Determining Gender Photos, Sexing: Cheeky
(scroll to view), Chinnychinchins,
N Class, Lima
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
Club Community, Chinny
Chin Chins, Chintasia,
City Chinchillas, Kingdom
Chinchillas (msn), Seward
Ohio Pet Chinchilla, Spoiled
Priory Chinchillas, see Information>
Health & Behavior> Hand-rearing
and Recessive Genes Crystal Chinchillas
Definition and Description Wikipedia
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,
Pets Farm, Underhill
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."
Details of Raising Crystal Chinchillas: see Breeding Articles,
then Raising Babies
Lethal Factor: ChinBin
in Oregon, Chinchilla
Chinchillas: Mutation Crosses page under Colours/ Genetics
"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):
As Pets, Chintasia,
see Colours/ Genetics, Ebony
the Love of Chinchillas, Granite
City Chinchillas- Royal Persion photos and articles,
Chinchilla (Google translation), Moonlight
Chinchillas: see Colours, Rose
Persian Angora Chinchillas, Österreich
Mutation Hybrids Chinchillas.com
Polygamous Breeding Unit- Photos and Article Garvey Chinchillas
of Birthing, Kit
Photos Chinchilla Homepage
Photos of Heat (estrus)
and Mating (copulatory) Plugs: Chintasia,
Photos: Placenta, Nipples, Nursing (Breastfeeding) Postures infochinchillas.com
Mummified Kits, Placenta-
The Afterbirth in Detail Azure Chinchillas
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, heidihoefer.com)
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
The Composition of Chinchilla
Teat Luv N Chins II
"TOV" or "Touch of Velvet" Chinchillas.com
and Photos of kits and their parents Michael's Chinchilla Homepage
Videos of birthing
and normal, breach births discussed Spoiled Chins
Chinchilla laniger (Long-Tailed Chinchilla) giving birth, kits
nursing and courtship,
mating by ARKive
Gain in Pregnant Chin and Kits Bettina's Fluffy Chins
THE AMAZING STORY OF A GREAT CHINCHILLA SURVIVOR, ZEBEDEE
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
preliminary questions to ask yourself and the vet,
factors to consider: foresight, lifestyle, recovery period, possible
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-
Bunny Barn, rabbitnetwork.org)
Neutering Articles, Explore
the Pros and Cons
Also see: Photo
and explanation of a neutering operation, a Google translation from
and Cons Chinchilla Quest
with complications Chinchillas4Life
Spike: Neutering effect on relationships eRodent
perseveres despite a troubled recovery period Joey's Medical
of a Neutering: A narrative emphasizing the importance of finding
a vet with experience Chinnitude
Story: Told from the chin's point of view Kingdom Chinchillas
Chinniehood: Over a dozen neutered successfully Lori E.
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.
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
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
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.
In an ideal world, pet owners would adopt only correctly-sexed,
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
"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)
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
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
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
cagemate for the remaining chin, or, purchase another cage,
separate M and F, then find same-sex cagemates for both.
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.
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.
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
Isoflurane or Sevoflurane gas be the type of anesthesia
used? Those types are chin-safe.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
It would definitely be best to neuter if there is ANY chance
your chinchilla in the future. Chins should be neutered when they're
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
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
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
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
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
for territorial reasons.
RECOVERY PERIOD: ONE FULL
What the operation site should look like: 2
days, 1 week after
The chin will need a full month recovery time to ensure that two
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
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.
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
first, but after 10 days he should be
ready to take dustbath on his own and have daily
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
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.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS, ABSCESSES
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
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
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:
||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.
||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
||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.
INBREEDING/ LINEBREEDING AND WHY
PET BREEDERS SHOULDN'T
for health and temperament)
Techniques by Azure Chinchillas provides additional information
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
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
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
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
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)
concentrate and accentuate any faults present in the animals
.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
"As we have noted, prolonged close inbreeding usually results
in smaller size, decreased health and vigor, and infertility."
.doc, Houston and Prestwich's "Chinchilla Care"
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."
.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
.doc, Medow's, "The Chinchilla"
WHY BREED PRIMARILY FOR
HEALTH AND TEMPERAMENT?
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.
(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.