Chilly and I spent many, many hours alone together that first week. I studied him. Rearranged his cage many times, trying to find a way that would make his life better. That meant a bigger cage. And lots of ways to jump and things to sit on and lay in and chew on.
Despite all of this, and my commitment to let him out to play for a few hours a day, he was still not as happy as I knew he could be. In the wild, Chinchillas live in colonies of anywhere from 50 to 150. They need their own.
So I told Chilly I was going to find him some of his own. I was his 3rd home in 5 yrs. I don't know his history, or if he's even seen another Chinchilla.
I tried for a few months but wasn't having any luck. That's the problem though, I don't believe in luck. So I turned it over to the immaculate timing of the Universe.
In March I replied to an add for baby Chinchillas. I knew "they" were in that litter. I could feel them.
So I went to meet the breeder and the litter. 2 were much smaller than the others. One was so small it seemed imposable that he'd make it. But he was mine and I'm a fighter and so we fought together. At 6 days old I held him in the palm of my hand and got him to make peeping noises for me.
It was a struggle. The breeder had to constantly supplement. He was bullied by the bigger ones. At one point his eye was totally swollen shut and we thought he might lose it. He didn't.
In April they came home. Impossibly small still, the size of gerbils, but home.
I picked the names Zuma and Zayle. Zuma means "a new day" and Zayle, "strength of the sea." Zuma has a beige coat and red eyes and Zayle is grey with grey toenails!
I can easily say that one of the most special things I have ever done in my time on this planet is eye dropper feed those babies. They struggled at first, but after a while all you had to do is say, "babies!! milk time!" and clink the dropper against the glass and they'd come running.
Yesterday they turned 7 months old.
Last month the transition to them all living together was completed and Chilly is the happiest Chinchilla. He had pulled a lot of his fur out, but it's all grown back in now.
I adore these creatures so very much. Most people have no idea how amazing they are. I've been going through a very rough time that's led to quite a transition and they have held onto little pieces of my heart for me until I've been strong enough to take them back.
Patience brought me a little Chinchilla family - I jokingly call them "Chinchilla Nation" All I know is that with them here, I don't feel so alone.
- Just Patricia