Personally, I would be curious as to how you became familiar with them and got involved with them.
My chinchilla journey began quite unexpectedly six years ago. I couldn't have a traditional pet such as a cat or dog because of where I was living at the time. However "pocket pets" were allowed...so I started looking around at the various pet stores in my area. I happened upon a lively creature at one of the local pet stores that I had never seen before...so I decided to do a little bit of research.
During my research...I found out pet stores are the last place you want to buy a pet from...let alone a chinchilla. I found chinchilla breeders who sale their chinchillas as pets are the best places to go when you purchase a chinchilla. However...I found out that in my area alone...there are so many chinchillas needing a home because people bought them without doing their research first. At the very least...you should read the following to determine if you have what it takes to be a chinchilla owner.
1. Chinchilla's spook easily. If you are in a house with children, barking dogs or general loud noises, a chinchilla probably isn't for you. If I talk too loud on the phone during the day...one of the chins will actually whistle or bark at me.
2. Chinchilla's are nocturnal. Yes, they sleep during the day and are active at night. If you are bothered by the noise of running exercise wheels and bouncing do not get a chinchilla. This is where a chinchilla room comes in very handy. They can be noisy...and I don't loose sleep.
3. Chinchilla's need space…particularly vertical space. Do not by any means think a typical rabbit cage or large hamster cage will suffice. Chinchilla's NEED a tall cage to jump around in…anything else is cruel. I've turned a spare bedroom into a chinchilla room so that they feel safe and are not disturbed. They love outside cage time (with the door closed of course) and will literally run and bounce off the walls if you let them. They are awesome jumpers.
4. Chinchilla's are a long term commitment as they can live up to 20 years. Please do not get a chinchilla if you cannot commit to that length of time. Chinchilla's do not adapt well to change. Giving them up after 5 or 6 years could be devastating for the chinchilla. They become VERY bonded to their kind...as well as to their human owner.
5. Yes Chinchilla's look cuddly…but not all chinchilla's will want to cuddle with you. If you are getting a chinchilla for your own selfish cuddling needs.... get a dog instead. I cannot stress this enough. NONE of my chinchillas like to cuddle...the lil' brats. I would love to cuddle with them...but they don't like it…so I respect their boundaries. Mine love to be petted gently on their back...or to receive nose tickles...but that's it.
6. Sometimes health issues pop up. If you cannot see forking out a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in vet bills, stay away from chinchilla's and exotics of any kind. Make sure there is a vet who deals with chinchillas in your area. I probably spend approximately $3,000 a year on vet bills because I have 2 chinchillas with ongoing health issues. Then there are the annual checkups...and the occasional illnesses that occur. My costs do vary from year to year.
Since I was fine with the above list…I chose to monitor the local small animal rescues in my area...and inquire when a chinchilla became available.
My first two chinchillas were a bonded male and female. The owner had surrendered them when they became too expensive to care for. At the time of the adoption...no one knew the female was pregnant because the rescue at that time had little experience with chinchillas.
After we had had Gizmo and Aquarius for a month...she gave birth to two boys (Scooter & Tigger). I was told I would never be able to house the entire family together...but I found a way. Chinchillas are VERY family oriented and a death or separation can be very devastating to them because of this reason. But sometimes as the children get older...the parents can start viewing them as competition...and turf wars can occur. I got through this by having all the boys neutered (dad too) when the babies were 5-months-old. After a couple of months...there were zero attitude problems from any of them...and they currently live in two five foot cages which are connected together so they have plenty of room to run and jump. Note: Most chinchillas NEED chinchilla companionship or they become very bored and lonely and will sometimes develop bad habits such as fur chewing.