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NWI Chinchillas

Breeding quality chinchillas and rescuing exotics since 2003.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where are you located?

We are located in Hammond, Indiana, about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago. We are about a mile off of Exit 1 (Calumet Avenue, North) on 80/94, close to the Indiana / Illinois border.

I live far away, but want to adopt. Do you ship?

While we have shipped our animals in the past, the company we had used (United) no longer ships small animals. We used this company because it was the most financially friendly and only required minimal paperwork. Now, using different airlines that still offer small animal shipping has become prohibitively expensive ($400 per animal). They also require much much paperwork that is extensive and difficult to obtain, which in the end, makes it more trouble than it's worth. We would need to raise the price of the chinchilla in order to cover the time and effort to get that completed, then tack on the higher shipping costs with these other companies...and it adds up to extraordinarily high prices that no one wants to pay.

HOWEVER -- we WILL work with pet GROUND transport companies to get your new furball safely to you. The responsibility for looking up the specifics of this, including the cost and logistics, is up to the buyer.

Do you have babies for sale? Where can I find the chins for sale listed?

We usually have quite a few babies for sale, as we have our own available, and we also work with another breeder to keep a variety of chinchillas here and available for adoption. Available chinchillas are listed on the various Available Chinchillas pages (all five of them), though we usually have more available than what are actually listed.

Please do check out all of the Available Chins pages! Unfortunately, a change with the website host has made it so that we are unable to post more than 5 groups of pictures per page, or else the pages won't load... so the pages now have to be split up. There are wonderful animals available on page 1 AND page 5 (and everywhere in between)!

I want the youngest baby possible, so I can bond with it from an early age. At what age do you wean babies, and how soon after that are they available?

We wean our baby chinchillas at 8 weeks of age, give or take. If a baby is unusually small, sometimes we will leave the baby with its mother for another week or two. When we wean our babies, we create a cage card for them, which lists their dam (mother) and sire (father), along with their birthdate, their weaning date, and their weight at weaning. After weaning, we will weigh the babies again in a few days. Ideally, they should have gained weight. Once they have gained weight for a few consecutive weighings, and we know they are doing well, they are available (if they are not going to be held back to grow out and show). This usually results in baby, non-show quality, chinchillas being available between 8.5-10 weeks of age.

I'm looking for a very specific chinchilla -- is that something you can help me with?

Of course! We get contacted often about special requests people have -- our most recent one was someone looking for a high quality sapphire that was a violet carrier. In working with other breeders, we can often find what you are looking for, so don't hesitate to contact us and ask if we might be able to help you! Often we can find what it is you'd like.

Your listings often say "this chinchilla doesn't bite." Do some chinchillas bite?

Chinchillas, like any animal that has a mouth and teeth, can bite. When our ads specify that a chinchilla does not bite, this refers to the time we have had a chinchilla in our care, and what we know of the chinchilla, prior to it coming to our care. If we have never been bitten or the chinchillas has never tried to bite or otherwise acted aggressively, then we will put "this chinchilla does not bite." However, as chinchillas do have mouths and teeth, they are able to bite, especially if scared or cornered. The typical chinchilla is more likely to run from you than it is to bite you, so no, they typically do not bite. However, we do not advise that small children (or anyone, for that matter) put their hands right by a chinchilla's mouth, as they are curious and may try to "taste" you.

I've seen some websites and craigslist ads that say "good with children" or "good with other pets" -- how come you don't put that in your ads? I want a chinchilla that's good with kids / pets.

We see this all the time on other websites and other ads. I personally have mixed emotions about putting "good with kids" or "good with pets" -- but the main reason you don't see this anywhere on this website is simply -- it depends on the kids and on the other pets. Think about it. If a child will sit quietly and pet the chinchilla, and the chinchilla will be fine with that, we could say, "good with kids." But what if that child would grab roughly at the chinchilla, pull it's tail, and squeeze the chinchilla when it struggles to get away from too-tight of a grip? Does this mean the chinchilla isn't good with kids? Or does this suggest maybe the child would benefit from more hands-on help from an adult or other caring individual as far as how to handle and interact with a chinchilla? The same goes for the "other pets." A chinchilla may do fine with a dog that sits quietly next to the cage, but may not react so calmly to a dog that jumps up on the cage and barks at the chinchilla. Does this mean the chinchilla isn't good with dogs, or that the chinchilla is exhibiting normal prey-animal behaviors, when a predator animal comes by? Much depends on the situation.

Can my child provide all the care that the chinchilla needs, without me having to do anything?

Possibly, though this depends on the age of the child. I would not recommend that little children care for a chinchilla primarily themselves. With chinchillas having restricted diets and being unable to eat certain foods, there is always the possibility of an unsupervised child feeding a chinchilla something they should not have. It also may be easy for a small child to forget that the chinchilla needs to be fed and watered, or the cage cleaned. I believe that a chinchilla should be a family pet, rather than a pet specifically for one individual family member, as then, there are multiple people checking that the chinchilla's needs are met and checking up on the chinchilla's welfare. If one child is to be responsible for the chinchilla's care, it is important that an adult supervise the care, and be sure that the chinchilla is fed, watered, and cleaned as necessary, to ensure the continued good health of the chinchilla.

Does my chinchilla need a buddy?

We get asked this very often, and the simple answer is, it depends more on your preferences than on the chinchilla. While chinchillas often can live happily with another chinchilla, they do not necessarily need a friend, if you'd rather have a single chinchilla. We like to see chinchillas go to homes in pairs, mainly because we, as humans, will never be chinchillas ourselves, and cannot climb in the cage and snuggle our chins, the way another chinchilla would. Basically, no matter how much we might love on them, we would never actually replace them having another chinchilla friend. That said, this is also personal preference.

Should I get a male or female chinchilla? Does sex matter?

Some websites suggest that males are more friendly and females can be more independent and have more personality. However, this has not been my experience. In my experience, any chinchilla can be friendly or not, independent or not, or like handling or not -- being male or female does not particularly seem to influence this.

Do chinchillas need to go to the vet?

Chinchillas do not need shots, vaccines, de-wormings, or routine check-ups at a veterinarian. Actually, going to the vet can be quite stressful for a chinchilla, as they would be in a different environment, often with many predator animals present. However, it is never a bad idea to know of a vet that will see chinchillas, should the chinchilla become sick or a health emergency arise. In this situation, a chinchilla should be taken in, and treated by a veterinarian.

What is the process to get a chinchilla?

We ask that all potential adopters read our care packet (here) and then fill out an adoption form (here).

Do I have to be in-state to adopt? Do you adopt out-of-state?

We adopt out to everywhere! It doesn't matter if you're next door, 30 minutes away, or a road trip away -- everyone is welcome to come adopt. If you're farther away, all that means is that you'll have to take some more time off work to come drive here and pick up your new family member!

I noticed the different colored "dot" stickers at your location. What do these mean?

We use colored dots to denote the availability of the chinchilla. These dots are placed on the chinchilla's cage cards. When a chinchilla first comes into the rescue, or alternatively, if we wean the chinchilla and decide that it is not show quality, that chinchilla will have an orange dot placed on their cage card. This denotes that the chinchilla will be available at some point in the future. Also on the cage card is the chinchilla's name (if it has one) and information, such as birthdate. On the back of the cage card, we keep track of the weights of the chinchillas, and we weigh all new chinchillas, in grams. Within a few days, we will weigh the chinchillas with orange dots, a second time. If the chinchillas has gained weight, and overall is doing well, they graduate to having a silver dot placed over the orange dot on their cage card. This denotes that they are now available and ready to go. Chinchillas with silver dots will get weighed again as well, and if they continue to gain weight (or maintain weight, for adults), they will get a plus sign (+) on top of the silver dot. This signifies that they are continuing to do well and continuing to gain weight. Just because a chinchilla does not have the plus sign yet, does not mean the chinchilla isn't doing well. Rather, it may simply mean that the chinchilla has been here a shorter period of time, and has not had enough weighings yet to warrant the plus sign.

Are chinchillas really hypoallergenic?

No, chinchillas are not hypoallergenic. Just like most animals, chinchillas do have dander, and people's allergies and asthma can be affected by this. While there's not as many people who are allergic to chinchillas (as compared to being allergic to other animals such as dogs and cats), people definitely can be allergic to chinchillas themselves. In addition, it's also possible to be allergic to the dust, hay, and bedding that chinchillas use. Both the chinchillas, their dander, and their supplies, can potentially cause allergic or asthmatic reactions in people.

Can chinchillas eat fruits and veggies? Why or why not?

Chinchillas cannot have either fruits or veggies, for different reasons actually. Veggies have a high moisture content. As a chinchilla's diet should be dry (pellets and hay), with the exception being the water that they drink, the high moisture content of the veggies can be too much for them to process, which can lead to the chinchillas developing bloat. Bloat can be a life-threatening condition, and the simplest way to prevent this is to not give a chinchilla veggies.

Fruits cannot be given due to the fact that fruits contain natural sugars. While some veggies do contain higher amounts of natural sugars as well (carrots being the notable one), fruits tend to be higher in their levels of natural sugars. While chinchillas can process some sugar in their diet, their digestive system is not set up to handle large amounts of sugar, as found in fruit. These large amounts of sugar can contribute to health problems such as diabetes. It does not matter if the fruit is fresh or dried -- either way, there is too much sugar in fruit for a chinchilla to handle.