Whimsy's Menagerie

Rescue, adoption , chincformation  & store

A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." (Proverbs 12:10 NIV)

ocated in Virginia Beach, Virginia.


Founded in 2008, our mission is to provide a safe haven for unwanted, neglected, or medically fragile chinchillas. Our goal is to rehabilitate and socialize in preparation for adoption. We gladly open our doors to those interested in learning more about these unique pets. We are available for temporary foster care, education, supplies, and networking with other local rescue organizations.


Looking for our WebStore?

See the navigation bar at the top of the page.

Update your bookmarks, we have a new website! Come check it out at www.whimsysmenagerie.com
(without the hyphen ;D)

Happy May everyone!

For the month of April, one (1) chinchilla was surrendered and zero (0) chinchillas were adopted.
Our website has been out of date for a very long time with regards to adoptable bios. So even though the list of available chins looks small, we have many who are actually available...or will be soon. The mass surrender of girls from March will be ready for new homes in July, so that will significantly increase the number of ready to go chinchillas.

Please do NOT email Whimsy asking for pictures of the adoptable chins. It's not just a matter of snapping a few and sending them off. Our rescue room is dark. We actually have to set up for pictures and the chins are rarely cooperative. And no, I don't care if you "don't mind" bad pictures. A picture will not tell the personality of the animal or how well they will accept the individual adopter. We prefer instead to have potential adopters come meet the chins. Sometimes we have some special cases reserved for special people. ;) All this to say that taking pictures and uploading bios takes a lot of time! Time that has become very scarce these days.

Whimsy has been on a secret mission for the past couple of months. We hope to have some good news to post about it soon. In the meantime, please be patient as we juggle graduations, orders, surrenders, adoptions, student work days, taxes, bureaucratic paperwork and new responsibilities.

We lost our "man help" recently so Whimsy has had to take on some more scary scary bandsaw work. We're back to cutting our own coins again and it's been quite the learning curve. On a positive note, however, we are now offering some really cute apple wedges with our mixed bags of wood. The chins are going absolutely crazy for this new shape. Would you like to try some?


Happy April everyone!

For the month of March eleven (11) chinchillas were surrendered and six (6) chinchillas were adopted.

The eleven incoming chins were, in fact, the mixed herd I spoke of in last month's post. We have 7 girls and 4 boys. The transfer party tossed all the chinchillas together into one cage for transport. Picture to the right shows the transport cage after we sexed and moved the girls. 

What were they thinking???? This decision made the history forms absolutely useless. We were then forced to start at ground zero with regards to grouping them according to compatibility. Of course we would have had to separate the sexes anyway, but still. 

Six of the seven girls get along well enough to share a triple stack Critter Nation cage. The one loner was exceptionally anxious. She lashed out at every chin who came near her. She has her own penthouse next to her former housemates and seems to enjoy the special attention. She also seems to be the only one showing signs of pregnancy. *sigh*

Of the boys, two began to cause trouble and had to go into separate cages. A pair of boys was adopted later in the month.

When we take in surrenders, we require the cages come too. Most of the time unwanted chins come in typical pet store starter cages. You know the kind. The small two level cages with plastic ledges? We've even had chins surrendered housed in hamster cages! One of the chins incoming lived in a tiny carrier with barely enough room to move in a circle. This was evidenced by the amount of protein buildup in the urine spots on the cage floor. Of the various cages, we were able to salvage a two part Critter Nation cage. We cleaned that up, gave it brand new pan liners and accessories and added a third level. The other cages were just too rusted and broken or t00 small to use. They went for scrap metal.

The pictures below are from surrender day.  This is where the term "rescue" comes in. Several of the chins had pretty bad fur mats and grease balls despite the transfer party telling us they had a dust bath the night before. This little girl had a virtual turkey tail. Someone from our Facebook page said she looked like a peacock. The matted hair was long as dreadlocks. Surprisingly, the grooming session only took 6 minutes flat to remove. It's amazing what one can do with a proper show comb and some experience. ;) You're welcome.


Happy March everyone!
For the month of February, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and zero (0) chinchillas were adopted. We did receive an inquiry regarding a local person who needs to rehome an entire herd. This seems to happen about twice per year. It just never ends.

Anyway! We're on a roll after yesterday's educational post. I'd like to elaborate on the dangers of choices people make when feeding treats and supplements.

Over the years we've actually removed some of our store items because we've seen far too many people abuse "moderation". For example, we've had customers order supplement, and oats, and barley and admit they mixed them for a higher grain content and add it to the pellets! Without going into a lengthy post about the phosphorus/calcium ratio, suffice it to say that the supplement mixes are carefully measured and suggested serving sizes are there for a specific purpose. Adding extra grains to a supplement, mixing brands or giving multiple supplements is in actuality, very dangerous.

A chinchilla's natural diet should be very, very bland and high in fiber. Fiber is absolutely essential for proper tooth and digestive function. If a chinchilla is filling up on supplements and treats, the only thing they are getting is extra calories, but not the necessary roughage. When a chinchilla diet is high in calorie enriched foods, they are less likely to want to fill up on fiber (hay). Consuming too many nutrient dense foods can lead to fatty liver disease, malocclusion, gastric stasis, etc.

Oh! Here's another example! Someone I know used to take high doses of multivitamins. Vitamins are good, right? Not necessarily. A body can only absorb so much. With water soluble vitamins, the body simply excretes the excess through the urinary system. But fat soluble vitamins build dangerous excess in the body. In the case with this person I know, she actually developed gastric ulcers....from vitamins.

Think of it this way, when growing a garden, fertilizers are added to produce more robust greenery, more flowers, fruits, a stronger root system. If the wrong type of fertilizer is used, too much, or two little your plants will suffer. Our chinchilla friends are like plants in a garden. They are fully at our mercy to provide them with their needs. When we feed them foods high in calories, such as added grains, fruits, highly processed commercial treats, SOMETHING will overgrow. I am beginning to suspect that overgrown tooth roots (malocclusion) is due in part to domesticated chins eating foods that are not only too soft, but too rich.

The only exceptions would be chins who are actively growing, pregnant, nursing or recovering from illness. A healthy, fully grown chinchilla does not need supplements as part of their daily diet. Overfeeding your chin, even "healthy" foods can still cause damage. This is why we encourage our customers to make choices for their chinchillas that are as close to what they would find in the natural chinchilla habitat. Safe choices would be rosehips, dried flowers and herbs, seagrass, chew toys and clean, dried wood chews and pumice.

I hope today's post shed some light on the issues surrounding choices in food items for your pet.
Happy February everyone!
For the month of January, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and four (4) chinchillas were adopted. We had an odd number of inquiries for single chins in February, which cleared out 4 entire cages! It's strange to actually see empty cages here...but a nice relief. We will slowly start working on that list of waiting incoming surrenders.

It's been a while since we've had an educational post. One reoccurring theme is the question about treats. We make it a point to encourage people to offer only wholesome goodies for their pet chinchillas. 

In regards to quantity, we have seen where folks religiously follow serving sizes...but give multiple treats and supplements daily! A treat should be something special. A treat should be something rare. A treat should not take the place of a freakin' meal.

If nothing else my goal for today's post is to call attention to treat amounts. We'll discuss healthy treat choices in the next post.

Happy January everyone! And Happy New Year!

As has become the new norm, my monthly post is very late. So I cramming in a quick update before February hits.

So....for the month of December, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and zero (0) chinchillas were adopted. Once again, surrenders and adoptions near the holidays are bad news. The good news is we've been getting a ton of inquiries for adoption in January...but that is news for February *tease*.

2016 recap gives us thirty four (34) surrenders and thirty (30) adoptions. I am happy to announce that we are finally back in a position to start taking surrenders in again. I'm probably going to regret making this announcement as we are making tentative plans to (hopefully) move some time this year. But with the sudden explosion of adoption of single chins, we have several empty cages just staring gape mouthed at me every time I breeze through the chin rooms. Who would have thought 60 chinchillas would seem like such a small number?


Happy December everyone!

For the month of November, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and zero (0) chinchillas were adopted. This is actually a good thing as giving pets for Christmas is generally a bad idea and the numbers of dumped pets each holiday season is notoriously common.  In our particular instance, as long as our adoption numbers remain low, we simply cannot take in more surrenders. For those of you who consider adoption instead of purchasing chinchillas from a breeder or pet store, thank you!

December has a been a busy one for Christmas orders. It's fun to see people who want to spoil their fur babies this time of year. Many individuals have chosen the Ultimate Chew Toy  Bundle. We're thrilled! The bundle has so many favorites and a fantastic variety. Depending on the number of chins one owns and how "destructive" they are, this bundle can last for many months. Which reminds me...we had someone write with concern that their chinchilla was suddenly destroying all his new cage accessories. Folks, this is a good thing! A chin with a hearty chewing habit is one that is less prone to malocclusion. It's a mistake to choose toys that aren't ones the chin demolishes quickly. Did you hear that? Sometimes I feel like a broken record. After having been immersed in all things chinchilla for nearly a decade, I find myself making the same statements over...and over...and over again.

I hope our long time followers don't become frustrated by the repetition as Whimsy is tempted to be. Unfortunately, some of our long time followers are the ones who are guilty. Case in point: we heard from someone recently who purchased a 50lb bag of feed for a single chinchilla. Thinking they could save lots of money, they would have done just as well feeding their chinchilla cardboard. The nutritional value depleted long ago.

Another instance of broken record syndrome this year was hearing from another young chin owner who wanted to let a father/daughter pair share a cage. Her rationalism was that the chins would somehow know they were related and not mate with each other. (I'm so glad y'all can't see my eye roll over here.)

And other hall of shame instances this year are otherwise intelligent people who can't accurately tell the gender of their pet or who feed their chins fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts and wonder why they suddenly have unplanned babies, pass away or have other health issues. So when people contact us saying they've "done the research", please forgive me if I'm skeptical.

Ok, enough pessimism for one post. On a much more positive light, we've received some beautiful, wonderfully uplifting emails regarding the essay in last month's post. We have also experienced some extremely generous individuals who have donated to our cause. When we began the chinchilla rescue it was to fill a need. Whimsy absorbed all the upfront costs with no expectation of assistance. We are thankful that the webstore has grown to the point where the rescue has support with no struggle. We routinely have enough funds to cover the cost of operation and have even managed to set aside the humble beginnings of a down payment for that elusive farm. Please know that when you place an order through our store and round up the payment amount, the donation portion is counted separately. We hope to have an actual total figure to post about after this year's tax filings. Until then have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year.

(Photo courtesy of Amanda!)


Happy November Everyone!

For the month of October, five (5) chinchillas were surrendered and six (6) chinchillas were adopted.
The year has absolutely zoomed by and the beginning of the month, and our anniversary, passed once again without fanfare.

Chinchillas have literally become my life and I can't imagine not continuing with Whimsy's. And since it's the day after Thanksgiving, it's only appropriate that I thank you everyone for the excellent, encouraging words and continued support with your orders. Thank you so much all for spreading the word about our rescue and store and thank you personal watchdogs on the forums who have confronted those who have tried to copy our designs! Thank you to those of you who round up your invoice total and thank you to those who have the special blessing to submit donations above and beyond. (You know who you are). Thank you to the countless wonderful families and individuals who have sought to provide a home for one of our rescues. With all these blessings it's much easier to deal with last year's loss of our dream. We very nearly won a 35 acre farm. Whimsy's essay was chosen as a finalist among thousands, but the essay contest was canceled right along the home stretch. It was a crushing piece of news to know we were so close. Now, as promised last month,  here is the essay we submitted.


My life operates as a series of ironies and clich├ęs. I was born with an intense love for animals, but am allergic to them. I also have allergy-induced asthma that reacts to animal dander, dust and pollen. Yet I operate a home-based small animal rescue and work diligently to make my organic garden into something resembling a Thomas Kinkade painting.

As a child I would never leave home without my rescue inhaler and wad of tissues. My constant presence at the neighborhood horse stables earned me the friendship of the owner's daughter. There she gave me literal crash courses in horseback riding and fence mending. By the time I was 14 years old, I bought my first horse with money I earned delivering newspapers. Sir Ashleigh, Tenderfoot of Hamburg, didn't mind my constantly runny nose. Often we would sneeze and blow in tandem.

Ever a statistical outlier, when I was 19 years old I went looking for a new home with greener pastures. I left one coast for another with my horse and pet chinchilla when we moved from California to Virginia. Here I also found a nursing degree and a husband. We started our family immediately and my career as stay-at-home mom began. Sadly, my children never met my horse. Like a foreshadowing of marital events, Sir Ashleigh passed away unexpectedly when I was pregnant with our first child. It was an accident, but one that never lost its sting.

Persisting in the "despite all odds" saga, in 2003, I became a single mother of four small children. When the judge questioned my ability to survive, my divorce lawyer explained that I was a woman who could make five meals out of one chicken. "Just do it" was my mantra to go back to college while continuing my commitment to homeschool the little ones. I managed to graduate Magna Cum Laude and earned multiple degrees in Speech/Language Pathology, Special Education and Psychology. My two oldest daughters followed closely in my academic footsteps when they enrolled precociously in college at ages 13 and 14, and continue to maintain perfect 4.0 grade point averages. My youngest daughter also began college at age 13 and earns straight A's just like her sisters. I like to believe my family would fit in well in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon stories: "Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average."

A country girl at heart, for years I would dream aloud with the kids about one day having our own farm with horses again. We talked of cultivating orchards and growing our own hay, of having some quirky fainting goats, a guard donkey, perhaps a llama or two, and of course a peacock. As proud supporters of the backyard hens movement, we collectively lament that the Virginia Beach city council refuses to permit its residents a few chickens. So while the city ordinances don't allow for farm animals in our neighborhood, we had to be content with dogs, cats, birds, fish, a flying squirrel, a hedgehog, ferrets and 100 chinchillas.

The chinchilla "thing" began as a homeschool project. We had the time, experience, space and heart to fill an unusual but overlooked need. We began our operation as a chinchilla specific rescue in November of 2008 and have grown to be one of the largest and most successful of our kind. During this time a few local and national magazines have written articles that spotlighted our shelter. The positive regard has been both rewarding and humbling.

The chinchillas reside in our converted garage that opens directly into our kitchen. To make more room for triple stacked cages we gave up the adjoining laundry room three years ago. To make even more space, we also traded our giant water heater for a tankless external unit. On occasion we have to hold temporary cages in the dining room. But that is reserved for short term boarders or emergency transfers from other shelter facilities.

I have since learned that other people's unwanted pets pose a never-ending influx. My greatest task now is to keep the ratio of surrenders to adoptions relatively equal and the cages out of the primary living area. We are operating at full capacity and have a waiting list for incoming animals as I struggle to reclaim enough space to have a washer and dryer again. It's a constant battle to keep their bath dust and pine shavings out of our home. What was once plenty of room has become crowded, and the chinchilla "thing" has become a full-time job.

To support the career that chose me, and by popular demand, we began making cage accessories and chew toys from select fruit and nut woods. An aspiring Master Gardener, I provide tree pruning as a free service. In return we get to keep the branches to cut, process and fashion into chinchilla chew toys. Together with help from the special needs students at a local high school, we assemble our original pet chews.

Volunteering with the students is undeniably a win-win situation. We began this mutually beneficial relationship during a required practicum for one of my Special Education courses in college. When the teacher lamented that she didn't have enough community jobs for her students to fulfill their work experience requirements, I told her about how handling all the different shapes and textures and following the patterns of our chew toy designs helps my son, who also has special needs. We've been volunteering with the students now for about as many years as we've been operating the rescue, and plan to keep our bimonthly visits indefinitely. We've seen many of the students who age out of the school system and are left with very limited opportunities to be contributing members of society. A dream I have fostered is to ultimately open an adult home and working farm for individuals with cognitive disabilities. The number of students and chinchillas we serve has steadily risen over the years and sometimes, especially during the hottest and coldest months of the year, it's a challenge to cut and process enough materials to keep the students and critters busy.

Out of necessity, I've become a successful craftsperson and have acquired an impressive array of tools. Not only do we make chew toys, we also create signature designed cage accessories. Environmental enrichment is something I strongly advocate when it comes to keeping a healthy and happy pet. We built a tidy little backyard workshop that is jam-packed with wheeled bins of parts and pieces that we bring with us when we have student work days. It also holds boxes of cut lumber ready to assemble into ledges, hidey houses, and chinchilla-sized bridges and swings. Large, pre-decorated cages that we offer for sale with chinchilla adoptions fill the center of the shop. I have to shift everything around like a game of Tetris to get to my supplies. Admittedly, my workshop is now too cramped for more than operating the tabletop drill press or router. I do most of the big cutting and especially dusty work outside, weather permitting.

As our little homeschool endeavor has grown, so has the demand on our modest space. The chinchillas have two rooms devoted to their cages, and the dining area is the showroom for the products we offer in our online store. My master bedroom and the majority of the upstairs and reclaimed attic are storage for boxes, packing supplies, hay, dried herbs and whole loofah in bulk, emergency travel carriers, a few hundred pounds of pumice stones and processed wood, and other raw materials. Like wearing "skinny pants" after a big meal, or home is nearly bursting at the seams and uncomfortably full.

Man plans, God laughs. My "5 year plan" included paying off the house and saving for a larger home with elbow room and land enough to have horses again. Last summer as I scrolled through the local Craigslist for garden supplies, I found my dream horse. Things just fell into place and by the end of the week I had my heart's desire. I managed to find a pasture board facility a half hour's drive away and three months later we added our second gaited mare. Sharing two horses among a family of five has been an interesting challenge, so this summer I found the perfect little confidence building Paso Fino gelding. He and my youngest daughter bonded immediately. Horses are a lot like potato chips (it's hard to have just one or two), and we are undoubtedly making up for lost equine time. It does concern me that the collective boarding fee for our growing herd is nearly as much as a mortgage payment-- minus the equity. We visit the horses daily as I insist on a self-care arrangement. But the daily drive to the stables itself is a time-stealing, joy-sucking demon of necessity. 

For my son with autism, riding and grooming the horses is therapeutic. My oldest daughter is a natural born equestrian. She and our green broke Rocky Mountain mare are learning together and are quite a remarkable team. My second daughter is too timid to ride my very forward moving Spotted Saddle horse. She has expressed that a mini would be just her size and speed. My youngest daughter has pseudoseizures and also feels safer closer to the ground. Horse-drawn carriages are something we considered, but never thought the opportunity could be a viable one here in the suburbs.

It's almost embarrassing to admit that I've been dreaming of future plans for Rock Spring Farm. The modified ground floor basement would be a perfect chinchilla shelter. The open room is easily twice the size of our current arrangement and it would provide the much-needed division from the main living quarters above. The large heated and air conditioned workshop makes me dance with delight. The barn and fenced fields would not only be ideal for our horses, but could satisfy my desire to cultivate our own fruit and nut woods for our chew toys and allow me to express my hay connoisseur tendencies and grow my own. The wooded paths are something we long to explore since the quaint boarding facility we use is simple treeless pastures with no direct access to trails. Without a truck and trailer, we have limited opportunity to share much in the way of riding variety with our horses. The wide trails with prospect for carriage driving would be empowering for my son and daughters.  A move to Essex County from Virginia Beach would allow us to continue our volunteer work with the students, and my daughters to complete their degrees at their current colleges. As a dedicated but friendly introvert, I consider suburban living as a necessary, but temporary stop, with the long-awaited goal of a more rural lifestyle. Which is why the more we learn about Rock Spring Farm and the people who have nurtured it, the more I feel a kindred spirit.

I hope that this essay has proven and shown that I am a good steward of all that is entrusted to my care. I am debt-free and have excellent credit, but ironically, am unable to get approval for a loan of the necessary amount to meet our growing needs. I have always maximized the use of what I have, and dream within the realm of possibilities. Rock Spring Farm would afford an almost limitless canvas to paint those dreams into reality; whether it would be for a chinchilla shelter, group home, orphaned foal rescue, horse motel, day camp for children with special needs, or a respite for those in mental anguish. I have confidence that our history demonstrates we are capable, responsible, high-energy and ultimately portable as we are eager and ready to expand. Even so, if my children and I were fortunate enough to win the farm, my biggest hope would be that people say it couldn't have happened to a nicer family.


Happy October everyone!

For the month of September, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and seven (7) chinchillas were adopted. We have finally cleared the chins out of overflow in our main living area and have them all contained in the rescue room. Whew! Now we can begin bringing in the surrenders that have been waiting months for an open spot.

My apologies for the very late post! It appears our website server has had quite a number of glitches this month. Right now I'm seeing an entirely new formatting thingy...so I hope this post actually makes it live.

Anywho, since there really isn't time to write a whole article on one of the dozen topics I've had in mind, who would be interested in seeing the story that almost won us the farm? Sound off on our facebook page. 

Happy (late) September everyone!
For the month of August, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and one (1) chinchilla was adopted. We're having a much better September for adoptions, but that news will have to wait for next post. ;)
Updates! Updates! Updates! 
Thanks to y'all, we've grown and grown and grown. You've read all about our laments regarding space issues and know that a larger home is on the agenda. Whimsy has big plans for a larger workshop, warehouse, chinchilla rescue building (not just a room in our home). We're also making plans to grow our own hay and nurture an orchard with which to grow and "branch out" our need for safe, organic fruit and nut woods. Sorry, pun intended.
The lender's requirements for a loan on a new property has  become much more rigid, however. The current news is that we would need a loan of between 500-600 thousand dollars with a down payment of at least 20%. (choke) We could take growth one step at a time. Whimsy actually has two orchards under consideration right now. Although we would strongly prefer to have all of our necessary "things" on the same property. So...once again we're seeking ways to expand while we save our pennies.
We have converted attic space for storage and finally broke down and got two storage units to rent. (I told you we need a warehouse). We've begun purchasing certain supplies by the case and pallet load; hardware, accent beads, shipping boxes, herbs, vine products, loofah and pumice. Which reminds me...big shout out to Whimsy's friend Brian for coming through on the promise for making  arrangements for 440lbs of pumice sent from abroad.  Wait 'til y'all see what we have in mind for that! Spoiler alert!
We're also slowly, but surely working on revamping the website, logo, etc. For those of you who follow us on facebook, you've probably see this cute little design. 
We're working on a whole series in this style, including a change to our logo. Hopefully we'll have some of them ready to go in time for Christmas. 
That's all the news for now, time to git back to werk. 
Happy August everyone!
For the month of June, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and zero (0) chinchillas were adopted. This time of year is typically when we get bunches of requests for boarding. Fortunately, our local chinnie friends understand the very limited space we have here now. We did manage to finally get a clothes washer and dryer. Unfortunately, that means even less room to devote to the chinchillas. We are considering some pretty radical steps to reclaim some room since the option to purchase a larger home is simply out of our financial reach. 
When we began our rescue venture many years ago, we erroneously believed that the occasional mass surrenders were temporary. But alas, it's become the expected norm that we hear of large groups of chins needing homes at least a couple times each year...not to mention the dozens of singles and pairs that also become unwanted. The shocking part is how many chinchilla "breeders" go out of business, or lose interest, or experience a health or family emergency and are stuck with mass amounts of animals they need to rehome. So for all you closet breeders out there, there is NO SHORTAGE of chinchillas for pets And other, more respectable, long term breeders have already "perfected" the breed.  
On a more positive note, laws are popping up all over the country regarding shutting down puppy mills. Some pet stores are also cracking down on the purchase of certain other backyard bred animals like rabbits and guinea pigs. Hedgehog breeding requires a USDA license and ferret breeding is under a pretty strict monopoly. I sincerely wish the same goes for chinchilla breeding soon. One can only hope...
Happy July everyone!
For the month of June, zero (0) chinchillas were surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted.  Not to say we haven't had inquiries for surrender...it seems every time we advertise chins for adoption, we get more emails asking about surrender instead! Years of dealing with the same situation has made it so that we are hesitant to post about our adoptables (or surrenders for that matter). And while I'm on the subject....
...there is no other more frustrating excuse than one that claims (cue violin music) the owner "no longer has the time and attention to devote to their pet". This is nothing more than a feel good way for a person to announce they're abandoning their fur friend. Get real people. Do you really think a shelter can provide that for your beloved fur baby? Some of our surrenders are with us for months, if not YEARS before they go to their "forever" home... and then we do see a sizable number of them come back to us within a few years. *sigh*
Without a doubt, we have seen that on the occasions where the person is the most vocal, the most vehement about providing a forever home, are usually the ones who resurrender the fastest! We have seen people absolutely swear with blood, sweat and tears that they would move to a pet friendly place, give up a boyfriend/husband/wife/etc or go without food themselves before they ever considered giving up their pet. But the lame excuse that someone cant pay attention to their animal is just dumbfounding.
We all go through periods of time where we are "busy". That is NO  EXCUSE to give up a friendship or responsibilities. Schedules change, suck it up and keep your promise! Don't be one who relies on the sad, tired phrase just to make yourself feel better. Giving up your pet and forcing it to make those kinds of adjustments is much worse than temporary reduced playtime. 
Now, on another note, we know sometimes people give up their chins because, frankly, their pet is just not friendly (or is downright dangerous). Please note that we are not a no-kill shelter. If incoming animals prove to be unadoptable due to behavior issues, they will be culled. Perhaps knowing this will make some reconsider their options. 
Rant over. 
Happy June everyone!
For the month of May, ten (10) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. The ten incoming chins were an extra special situation where the former owner had trouble juggling the medical responsibilities to her very large fur family. We learned that the chins were kept in groupings that facilitated breeding. There was a father caged with daughters, a son with a mother, brothers and sisters together, etc. After several email exchanges, the owner decided to give them all up. We were especially thrilled to halt the ongoing saturation of breeding from this individual. We keep females from mixed groups for a minimum of 4 months to make absolute sure they are not pregnant before adoption. 
 We now have seven females on maternity watch, so if you've ever considered sponsoring a chin, now would be the perfect time.
The new group was surprisingly clean and well fed. Understandably, the housing chosen for them was cramped. Our first order of intake was to move the girls to maternity cages and recombine the boys with boys and girls with girls.  Even though we have them in "holding cages", the spacial difference is drastic. Check out the difference between the cages in which they lived to the ones we have them in during their stay here. 
Happy May everyone!
For the month of April, eight (8) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. Nothing more to say about the month's events other than please spread the word about our adoptables. We have some difficult little personalities here who desperately need a permanent home. Some chins just do better when they have a person of their own. Which reminds me...
We've gotten inquiries int he past regarding how to best bond with a new chin. So we have some really neat handy ideas for how to get to know your new BFF. 
Spending time with your new fur buddy is pretty obvious , but how do you hang with someone who is constantly on the go? Chins are prey animals and as such are not generally "snuggly". In an open area a chinchilla is more likely to show their affection for you by using you...as a jungle gym. We always tell our prospective adopters that if a chin likes you, they'll touch you. If a chin is really comfortable with someone, they'll hop into their lap, up on the shoulders or even perch on a head! Being in an open area is stressful for chins. Again, as prey animals, they constantly watch for anything that has the potential to harm them. Knowing their need for security, you can offer them refuge and become their safe place too.
Grasping hands are constricting, which is why so many chins struggle when held. But the soft, yielding security of an oversized pocket, hoodie or baby carrier works very well. One of our local chinnie friends discovered the joys of slinging their chins. Baby sling, that is. Don't panic. 
A sling is actually a fantastic tool. It offers a large space for the chin to move around relatively freely, but still within close contact with their human. It's cute to see them poke their little whiskery face out to survey their surrounds, then dart back in to the safety of their sling. A sling is also much cooler in temperature then just holding and petting the little cloud bunnies with hot, sweaty hands. 
A chin who becomes acclimated to handling makes for a much better pet! Someone who spends time with and enjoys their pet is less likely to give them up. So if you're at a place where the newness and excitement of your chinnie has worn off, here is a fantastic way to rekindle your lost interest. Give your chinnie a scritch for me and tell them "you're welcome", from Whimsy. 
Happy April everyone!
For the month of March, three (3) chinchillas were surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted. It's been a frustrating month where we've had many inquiries for adoption and then the prospective adopters have come unprepared. One person came in a tiny car expecting to squeeze in a full sized chinchilla cage. One person came having just moved in to an apartment (that doesn't allow pets) and another person came with the vehement promise to return for the chins(s) they placed on hold...then dropped off the face of the earth. And another person showed up and oh, just happened to have already picked up a chin from the pet store but wanted to check out our place anyway. Yup! This is the life of a rescue worker. It's no wonder so many start up rescues collapse within a few years. Dealing with people can be so frustrating sometimes!
On a more positive note, we also get the blessed relief of actually meeting some really cool people. Thank you to those of you who present that bright spot of sunshine in our day.
As mentioned previously, we are gearing up to make some (positive) changes. Please forgive Whimsy if replies to emails are especially slow. We're also dealing with tax season (extension filed) and a possible move. We are actively looking for a new, bigger place so that we can allow the chinnies to spread out into the proper sized cages instead of our holding cages. We also want to grow our own hay, plant orchards so we can grow and harvest our own fruit and nut woods and....well, let's just say the dreams and plans sometimes get a bit out of control.
We did get the chance to go visit Rock Spring Farm in person. The owners are wonderful people.Unfortunately, it looks as though the amount of work the place needs to get it move in ready to our specifications is overwhelming. Who would have guessed 35 acres would be too small???
Anyway, onward and upward! We're confident we can find just the right place, at just the right time, for just the right cost. Is "free" even possible? *cough* 
Happy March everyone!
For the month of February, five (5) chinchillas were adopted and four (4) chinchillas were surrendered. 
Fairly often we get in cases of chinchillas who chew their own fur. Barbering, as it's called, is a stress reaction. RARELY is it actually a genetic cause although chins who are genetically inclined to chew their fur are more likely to do so when under stress than those who come from genetic lines that don't show this behavior. Let me clarify, the genetic component is a trigger, not a cause. Anyway, I want to share with you the causes and cures for fur chewing as we have come to understand it.
We actually love getting in fur chewed chins. They put the "rescue" in Chinchilla Rescue and make fantastic cover stories. ;) Here is one of our more notable before and after situations. 
This trio of girls came to us in this condition:
They were overcrowded in a cage too small for even a single chin, with all metal ledges, ramps and a wire cage bottom. They had no place to hide and the height of the cage was too low to allow them to survey their area. We upgraded their cage, gave them one more than twice the size (especially in height) included wooden ledges, lots of places to hide, and unlimited access to a wide variety of chew toys.
Fur chewing chins tend to be nervous pickers, so the best chew toys for them are the soft, shreddy type. Giving them all hard chew toys "that will last longer" actually makes the problem worse. Fur chewers are showing their need when they pluck and shred their fur and that of their cagemates. If you only listen, they will tell you what they desire!
With this particular group, we learned that they loved vine products and fibrous hays. Our Edible Cage Garlands, Hugs & Kisses Garlands, Herbal Bunnies, Spiders(!) Chinchworms and Pinata chew toys were very popular with them. Follow this link to our chew toy store page.
We also learned that they viewed their food bowl as half empty, not half full. A half empty bowl caused them to become nervous and start chewing again. Since their former home was inconsistent in their care, they never knew when their food supply would run out. Within a few weeks of steady, regular care, their fur began coming back in again. When chinchilla fur grows back, it comes in patchy and uneven, like this: 
Some people advocate that daily, out of cage playtime as mandatory for chinchilla well being. I'd like to debunk that. Interaction with our pet chinchillas should be a pleasant one, not a daily chore! In actuality, chinchillas view their home as their safe haven. (Assuming their cage is large enough and properly equipped). Obviously a small cage does not afford them the necessary exercise or stimulation. OVERSTIMULATION can contribute to stress that leads to fur chewing. Some chinchillas thrive on out of cage playtime, others become nervous wrecks. Once again it's very important to know your pet and their individual preferences. In the case of the three girls, they had zero out of cage playtime while at our rescue. They did, however, have basic care with particular attention to their particular needs. After a few months, the girls fur was completely grown in and they were ready for adoption. How's this for a happy ending?
Happy February everyone!

I know this is probably the latest post EVER. But I wanted to get in a quick update before the month changes. Thank you Leap Year! 
Anyway, for the month of January, three (3) chinchillas were surrendered and two (2) chinchillas were adopted.Our numbers are under good control now but we're still keeping a strict limit on incoming surrenders. Taking care of 70 chinchillas is so much easier than 110! Although, the amount of care needed for a small herd is basically the same as for a single, especially if they're bonded and share a cage. Thing is, we're taking care of 46 cages full of chinchillas!
We've managed to combine some of our single chins and pairs into small herds of up to 6 chinchillas. Once again, Whimsy always advocates for keeping chins in pairs or groups to provide them with their natural need for snuggles and grooming only their own kind can provide. And once again we do have our own singles here who are not safe to keep with other chins. In a cage, a victim has no place to run and hide from an aggressor... at least not very far. But I digress.
We're working on some exciting changes here at the Menagerie. Our little operation has slowly grown to the point where we seriously have to consider how we're going to continue at the current rate of growth. Had we won the contest to win Rock Spring Farm, the issue would have been moot.
Currently we are working towards implementing some new bookkeeping programs, watch for some subtle changes over the next year. The new technology has been an eye opener. For example, we spent over $12,000 just on feed last year! When people ask us how much food a chinchilla eats in a month, the question stumps me. I do know that we easily go through about 20 or more pounds of pellets and about the same in hay each day. 
So for all of you who have been long term supporters, and all of you who have stumbled upon our website, thank you for your help! Keep those orders coming. Our supply store sales keep the rescue work going. Collectively we help our little niche of unwanted, but favorite furry pets.
Happy January everyone! And Happy New Year!!
For the month of December, three (3) chinchillas were surrendered and three (3) chinchillas were adopted. For the entire year of 2015 that brings us to 32 chinchillas surrendered with 36 chinchillas adopted. We do have 4 chinchillas expected in this month, but we finally have carved out enough space for that elusive clothes washer and dryer. 
After the holidays we've spent as much time as we can muster toward fixing up the secondary chin (laundry) room. We'll still have space in there for four triple stacked cages, but now we're going to take back one wall for combined use. ;) The primary chin room holds 12 triple stacked cages.
In our space saving venture, we've had some wonderful success with pairbonding and larger group bonding with our own chins as well as with those who seek to find a friend for their own fur baby. Which has really helped consolidate the little space we have. The latest success story came with a male who had spent his life with a female cagemate who accepted a male friend with no issues. *cue all kinds of social agenda jokes* 
But the point is, just because a male and female chinchilla "love each other" is no reason to keep them in a situation that could lead to the procreation of more chinchillas... who will eventually need more homes.
We have paired mothers with daughters, fathers with sons in an effort to keep the snuggle factor, without the risk of pregnancy. Of course the bonding has everything to do with compatibility. We have also pairbonded chins who have never been in the company of another chin since weaning. We've pairbonded a 17 year old chin with a 10 year old, breeding chins with same gender chins, babies with unrelated adults, so there is really no "magic" age or indicator that a single chin will or will not accept a friend. (Although pairbonding weanlings is by far the easiest).
The degree of friendliness a chin has for humans or even the family dog or cat is NOT an indicator of whether or not a chin will pairbond. The only way to know for sure is how they react to other chinchillas. Keep in mind, chinchillas do like to choose their own friends, so just because a chinchilla hates another chin does not necessarily mean they will hate all chins.
We do, however, know how to recognize an alpha. Those are the ones who are simply too aggressive to pairbond and have proven aggressive towards their own kind as a general rule, not as a single episode. We have on occasion met with chins who were too aggressive to pairbond. Our own mascot, Titus, is one of those. So while we will always push for keeping chins in pairs or groups, realistically speaking, it's just not always possible.
We could only hope that if this is your situation, it's with the chins best interest in mind that he or she is single and not simply for convenience or cost. 


Please visit the Archives for older updates. :)