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Emergency Preparation

How prepared are you for an emergency?

How wild have the past few years been? Natural disasters have reeked havoc across the country. Wild fires in places we’ve lived for decades and never seen a fire, floods, hurricanes. Life is crazy but the only control we have over these situations is being adequately prepared. Now let me touch on the ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

1. Your chances of saving your pet are directly correlated to how easily you can gather your pets, children, and other dependents. And absolutely, positively, your life and the lives of your human dependents are the primary concern. If getting your animals out of your home means risking your life, consider choosing life over heroics and make sure you have an emergency alert sticker on your home and leave a carrier easily accessible.

And for the sake of the true heroes, during an evacuation, please leave a simple paper sign on the door stating if you have evacuated and evacuated your pets.

2. Crate and carrier train every single animal in your care. Remember when I said your chances are directly correlated to your ease of retrieving the animals? That is an absolute fact. Your pets should associate a carrier to positive experiences. You must be able to grab them. I hear this often among chinchilla groups, but “I cannot handle my chinchilla” is not acceptable on a day to day. Start practicing the tail hold and associate it to treat time or dusting. Take a firm hold at the base of the tail, place your chinchilla in a carrier. Provide dust, sticks, or a safe treat. Do this often. After visiting a vet or other negative experience, practice more frequently to regain the positive association. The tail hold does not hurt them. It is not upsetting. It is perfectly fine and safer than risking breaking a chinchillas fragile ribs trying to grab them.
Photo Credit Let’s Love Chinchillas

https://letslovechinchillas.weebly.com/

No matter what kind of pet you have, it is imperative you can handle them and they are relatively easy to get into a travel carrier.

Do you have an appropriate carrier for your pet’s species?

For a rodent, we want a fully metal, solid bottom, smaller carrier. Why should it be small? Your pet doesn’t have seat belts in the car. The roads and drivers in a natural disaster are not calm, cool, and collected, but you will be more so if you know your pet isn’t going to be tumbled around an oversized carrier if you have to swerve or slam on your brakes. Check out Quality Cage’s carriers. Make sure you have enough compartments for different caged pets. In an emergency, this isn’t a great time to attempt bonding on the fly.


Check out all metal carriers here

Do you have a plan?

Who can you board your pets with? So when we evacuated with our pets, I couldn’t get a hold of my usual location for boarding. I also couldn’t find a hotel within 120 miles because the entire state was on fire. And whatever I was going to find wasn’t going to have reliable HVAC to maintain a safe space for chinchillas. If you have friends who would take your pet, do you have a travel cage?

Quality Cages Collapsible Travel cage is all metal, fits in most trunks, and can accommodate chinchillas, guinea pigs, rats or small rabbits. I would go for something with a more heavy duty locking system like a small dog crate for ferrets. The entire cage fits into that steel pan so it is very easy to store and I store 3 stacked on a closet shelf out of sight, out of mind until they are needed.


Quality Cages Collapsible Travel Cage for small to medium sized rodents

An easy access bag with some food, water, and emergency necessities appropriate for your pets is highly recommended. You may be able to get to a pet shop. You may not. You may have a pet boarder with supplies available. You may not. But as a final note, your level of planning, preparation, and ability to physically handle your pets is going to dictate your mental space in an emergency. You need to be calm, cool, and collected, so you need to be well versed in packing up all your pets in a pinch. Practice today because in those moments you will have emergency alerts going off, emergency personnel pounding on your door, friends and family calling and texting non-stop. It is a high stress situation. 

You are amazing, strong, and capable and you can do this, but practice makes perfect so carrier train all of your pets today. 

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New Chinchillas and Recommended Vendors

Shopping for New Chin Owners And our Recommended Vendors

New Chinchilla Checklist
Need List

Gold Pet CrownGetting a chinchilla? Wondering what you absolutely need? We consider ourselves pretty avid shoppers. 

Here’s our consolidated list:

1. Appropriately Sized Cage and Considerations: A cage for a chinchilla should be at least 3 feet x 2 feet x 2 ft with 2 square feet of floor space per pet. Don’t let that limit you though, your cage can be as large as you can accommodate. It should have: No exposed plastic parts, a solid floor, appropriate wiring spacing (an inch or less for adults). Be mindful when purchasing of how you are going to provide a solid floor. One of the most popular cages (we have them) are the MidWest Homes Critter Nation and Ferret Nation. Other options include Quality Cages chinchilla cages shown above. Pros and cons?

We have both the Ferret and Critter Nations from MidWest. Some state that the Ferret Nation is better because of wire strength. We have not had issues on that front, but there are only 3 cross bars on each panel, so your ability to place ledges is more limited than with the Critter Nation. As Ferret Nation add ons are cheaper, we took to mixing and matching the panels in each cage to give us more flexibility. A Ferret/Critter Nation can be purchased as a single unit and added onto for up to 3 levels. That is a substantial amount of flexibility when it comes to growing your cage. However, the plastic pans will need to be covered or removed for pet safety as well as the metal ramps. We personally forgo the ramps and place wood ramps, ledges, and wall hammocks underneath. Your flooring options include fleece covered pans (check out ChinChic for these or order custom from us), tile (get it cut at your local hardware store), and metal pans (check out Quality Cages for galvanized and powder coated options or Bass Pans for metal replacements for the plastic pans). Whatever your choice, our 5.5 inch Wood Scatter Guards will help keep messes in the cage. 

While you are not able to add on to the Quality Cages shown above, they come chinchilla safe with no need for these extra steps. There is zero plastic. 

Weigh your options and consider customization, budget, and floor space before purchasing. We are not recommending Prevue Hendrix products here as many people have had to replace. We don’t feel having to replace your cage is a reasonable consideration when purchasing. Spend a little more and keep it for a lifetime. 

 

Plan to invest in a travel cage as well. Not many adequately sized cages will fit in your vehicle for a long trip to the vet or evacuation. Think ahead so you aren’t doing what we did during the California fires, waiting for your Quality Cages Collapsible Travel Cage to arrive while your pets essentially live in a carrier. We don’t know of any other easy store, easy assemble travel cages to be honest. While we have used Martin’s cages in the past, they are not easily assembled. 

2. Food: A high quality, fresh pellet and ample supplies of second cut timothy hay. For simplicity, we are only recommending Mazuri Chinchilla diet or Oxbow Essentials. They are relatively similar with Mazuri containing some probiotics and an enzyme that reduces urine odor. Buy them from a reputable dealer. Not repackaged. Not sitting on a shelf for an extended time period. Chewy offers some great prices so we are linking to them now. I personally prefer to pick up my hay myself. There are subscription and online purchase options, but you should make sure your hay is fresh, dry, and mostly green. The shelf life on your hay is significantly longer when stored properly than your pellets. Do not purchase any pellets containing vegetables or fruit. Whether it is dehydrated, fresh, mealed, it can cause bloat and kill a chinchilla. Treats are optional…. but should never be fruit or vegetable based.
Chewy offers fast shipping on food and 30% off your first autoship.
Chilldust

3. Dust: Your chinchilla needs a safe, quality dust for bathing. The frequency of bathing really depends on how clean your chin is, how often they are handled, and how healthy their skin is. Dust is an absolute necessity. We only recommend Empress Chinchilla Certified ChillDust which is 100% pumice. We are an authorized reseller but you can find it at many retailers. A good sized bathhouse is in order too. We personally found ourselves large mason jars for this purpose or a candy jar. I prefer glass. You can sterilize your bath if you have a fungal outbreak. 

4. Cage Accessories and Enrichment: Your cage needs ledges and hides. Whether your hides are tunnels, fleece houses, hammocks, nest boxes, houses etc, your pet is a prey animal and is highly intelligent. They need an enriching play space where they feel safe. You need to plan these appropriately as well. Make sure your chinchilla cannot fall more than 18 inches. Stagger ledges and houses and hammocks to ensure a large fall cannot occur. Some chinchillas are spiderman and some are clumsy as all get out. Get a good blend of wood, fleece, and metal products. We recommend galvanized, powder coated, or stainless steel for metal. Aluminum is lightweight and comes in many colors but can become sharp when chewed, bend and flex, and create a springboard effect. Click the metal ledge picture above to see a good variety of steel ledges offered on Etsy. Your chinchilla needs wood too. And in variety and large supply. Toys, ledges, and houses will provide ample chewing material for your rodent’s dental health. Our shop is fully stocked with numerous options and you can find many online. 

5. Food Dishes: You will need some kind of bowl or rack for hay, a bowl for pellets, and a good water bottle. Bowls should be safe when chewed whether its a coop cup or a ceramic dish, it should be safe. No plastic and no zinc plated metals. Most water bottles leak slightly or will eventually. You can prevent this from being a huge problem by putting a dish underneath or a fleece drip pad. If using a hay rack, make sure your animal CANNOT get stuck inside. 

6. Chews: Chinchillas need to keep their teeth trim by consuming fresh hay and chewing safe items. Like most things, this can be as simple or as elaborate as you chews =P. A good variety to try out to see what your chin is into would be apple wood, pumice, and vine. Hanging toys, toss toys, and loose chews would cover a good variety. Something our shop offers that are unique are our refillable stainless steel toys. You can refill with our refill packs or your own for a more ecofriendly option than buying toys hung on wire.

Wants

These are things you don’t necessarily NEED but might WANT.

Here at Whiskers & Fluff, our shops is packed full of cute things. Pillows, beds, photo worthy prop shelves. Just shop around!

Wheels: You may find you need a wheel if you don’t have much time for playtime or a small cage with limited enrichment. Quality Cages has arguably the highest quality wheels and offers replacement bearings so you can keep your wheel for a lifetime. Like with your cage, you are better off spending more to have a wheel for a lifetime rather than replacing every few years. Also they offer free shipping to US customers.

You may also want a Litter Pan. Some use a pyrex dish with aspen shavings. I personally use a Quality Cage Litter Box. The aspen is never pulled out and it looks very nice.

Cool Metal Tunnels

We have 4 tunnels from Jouets on Etsy. They are very thick, heavy duty aluminum and have never shown any chew damage.

Chin Buddies

 

ChinChic is a quality vendor for a number of great things including Chinnie-Buddies, Fleece Covered PVC tubes, fleece liner sets, and these amazing baby yoda hats

Ridiculously Awesome Custom Fleece

Chinnie Boutique is a Facebook Group which you can join for amazing custom fleece houses and beds and much more. She also has Chinchilla plushies (these are for humans)

Les Petits SG is a partner of ours and you can find many of her awesome products in the Minky Category of our shop but she also does custom pet illustrations on her Etsy and can turn them into pillows and tiles and other amazing products. 

Chinchilla Bribes

The Chinchilla Bakery is a UK vendor for treats and cookies and has incredibly reasonable shipping to the United States. 

Cherokee Forest Wood Company is Lisa Tompkin’s group and she provides the absolute best quality flower and herb treats.

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Cleaning and Caring for your Wood & a Science Lesson in Fungi

Scientist JijiKeeping your cage clean and safe is one of your most important jobs as a pet owner. And if you have a rodent, it is even more imperative! Rodents teeth never, ever stop growing and are filed by chewing. Most rodents do not consume the materials they chew; however oils, tannins, and bacteria are then transferred into their mouth and ultimately into their system. Make sure you know the safe wood list of your species thoroughly. Never offer woods that aren’t safe to your pet. Offer a variety of chewing surfaces for your rodent… they need to wear their teeth down and a variety of toys and ledges can help them reach each tooth. This is very important for their health and life span. 

 

Caring for your wood:

  1. Care for your wood accessories as you would anything else in your cage. We keep packs of WaterWipes baby wipes near our cages for a quick wipe down in the evening if we notice urine sitting on our wood. A quick scrub with a water wipe and air dry can prevent a urine stain from sticking or growing bacteria. If you notice a stain took, it may be on it’s way to growing something funky! Buy a steel brush at the hardware store along with a variety of sand paper. We recommend doing a scrub with a steel brush (avoid steel wool. It breaks down in vinegar) and vinegar if your wood appears stained to prevent any kinds of bacteria growth. On a monthly basis, a light sanding will revitalize your wood. Afterwards if it appears dirty, wipe down with vinegar. 
  2. We cannot stress this enough- sanding. Rodents chew irregularly. It can make the edge of a shelf sharp or splintered. If you notice this occurring, plan to pull your wood out and sand. You don’t need any special tools. Just sand paper and a well ventilated area. Breathing saw dust is not good for you or your pets.
  3. Many people worry about losing their wood investments to ringworm or other fungal outbreaks. We have some tips and tricks for preventing fungal outbreak in your pets. Some pet owners with dusting animals use anti-fungal powders in their dust. We are on the fence about this because dust is already irritating to the eyes so personally we wouldn’t want anti-fungal powders ending up in our pet’s eyes. Another preventative measure is a simple, extra step when cleaning. If you have never heard of a Wood’s lamp before, it is essentially a bulky black light. Veterinarians and dermatologists use these to easily diagnose fungal outbreaks. Buy one on Amazon. You can purchase black light flashlights online for this task. Once a month, you should pull your pets from their cage and let them sit in a carrier. Turn off the lights and check over everything with a handheld black light. You’re going to feel like a crime scene investigator, but really you’re just a super proactive scientist. Fungus and urine will fluoresce under black light, meaning they glow. (How can you tell the difference? You can see urine with the naked eye. When those stains light up, you are seeing urine under black light) Note where you saw glowing (we’re talking bright pink, green, blue green) and put straight vinegar on the area. Clean. Repeat. Sand if necessary. If sanding an area you believe to have a fungal growth (ringworm tends to be blue green), please use elbow length gloves and take caution to not inhale dust. For this we would recommend a wet sanding with vinegar and a hard brush to prevent airborne dust. Then set the wood aside for 48 hours. I’m personally not a fan of drying anything you suspect is contaminated in your oven. Your goal is to isolate and prevent reinfection. 
  4. The wood’s lamp method does not make a wooden cage a safe investment. There are many reasons why a wooden cage is a poor option. One of the biggest is that I can help you find fungus, remove, and attempt to treat it. This is not possible to do with a section of a cage. Dry wood thoroughly after cleaning. 
  5. The wood’s lamp method on your pet. Your eyes and your pet’s eyes are not immune to damage from black light. Please cover your pet’s eyes when checking them. Also note on a chinchilla, you will see mild fluorescence inside the ears and on the pads of the feet where dry skin scales. This is not a reason to rush into the veterinarian. Also consider location before attempting to treat at home. Plenty of people attempt to treat fungus around the eyes and mouth without oral anti-fungals and find themselves in a messy situation. These ailments can be dangerous and typically require oral anti-fungals.
 
SAFETY NOTES FOR CONSUMERS:
 Treat small areas… not infestations. If you see a considerable amount of bacteria or fungus on your wood. TOSS IT. This is irregular in clean cages however – fungus and bacterium need moisture to breed and spread… preventative measures such as regular wiping down of your cage prevent such heinous outbreaks. If the outbreak occurred, it’s possible you have a humidity problem and redrying your wood is a moot point. Correct humidity and replace.
 Do not… and I cannot stress this enough… purchase wood toys from the store that appear to have layers. Pressed pine is not safe for chewing rodents. It is essentially plywood and contains chemicals and glues considered unsafe for consumption.
 Wood glues used on your products should be food safe, animal safe, and child safe. 
 Do not purchase bird toys without asking the manufacturer about their coloring process. We find more often than not during sourcing that colored items for birds contain sugar. Sugar can cause seizures in chinchillas and other animals not adapted to consume fruits. 

 

  At the end of the day whether you purchase products from Whiskers & Fluff or another trusted vendor, please be proactive in ensuring the safety of your pets. Pet store brands are often unsafe. Even if modified due to the use of pressed pine, sugar containing colorants, and unsafe glues.