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We rescued 2 new chinchillas! Will everyone be friends once they move into the Romping Room with the cavies?

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Hi!

Welcome back to Animal Wonders. I’m Jessi, and this is Chex the chinchilla.

Today we’re going to talk about our very special room called the Romping Room. [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC]. The Romping Room was created as an addition to an indoor enclosure that was originally built to temporarily house a fox, but ended up being filled by an adorable little guy named Chili Pepper. Chili Pepper is a Patagonian cavy, also known as a mara.

If you look around the room, you’ll see all these names on the walls, and those are from people who helped us create this really special place so that Chili Pepper could have a pretty sweet upgrade. But this space isn’t just for Chili Pepper. At Animal Wonders, we like to use every space to its fullest potential, and luckily the Romping Room is the perfect shareable gift.

Chili Pepper’s best friend is Cayenne, another Patagonian cavy, who loves coming out to the Romping Room to dig and run around. These two best buddies share their indoor space with a little herd of guinea pigs who actually prefer not to venture out into the Romping Room because it’s a little too open out there. And Cayenne and Chili Pepper used to share this space with Kizmit the African crested porcupine, but she got herself some new digs, which means the Romping Room had the potential to be the home to some new friends!

So, meet the Chinchilla Crew! A few months ago, we rescued two new chinchillas, Chex and Kix, and we had hopes that they would live socially with our other chinchillas, Cheerio and Pebbles. Chex and Kix came from a private breeder who could no longer have chinchillas in their home.

They ended up dropping off a family of 5 chinchillas at a local pet store, who then called us asking if we had room for any of them. They were looking for homes for an adult male and female and their kits, 2 males and a female. And since we already had 2 females and we wanted the best chance at everyone getting along together, we said we could take in the mother and the daughter.

Now male and females can get along, but females tend to be very territorial, and adding a male into the mix would likely cause unwanted tension. And then we would also need to spay and neuter everyone, so it was best to just take in the gals. So Chex, the momma, and Kix, her daughter, came to Animal Wonders and went into a month-long quarantine to make sure they were healthy.

When they first arrived, Chex was looking pretty rough. Her fur had been barbered, which is the term you use when other animals are chewing off chunks of their fur. I don’t know what her enclosure looked like in her previous home, but when I see barbering, it either means the chinchilla is in pain and trying to solve the problem themselves, or their roommates are stressed out and nibbling each other’s fur is a coping mechanism.

Some common stressors that may cause barbering include too small of an enclosure or too many chinchillas all together, or poor environment like inappropriate bedding or inadequate ventilation. The only other pieces of information I got about the chinchillas was that they didn’t have access to a dust bath and Chex has had at least 6 litters of kits. So my best guess is she either felt unclean and over groomed herself, or she was being picked on by her mate or her babies.

But being given appropriate room, ventilation, and free access to a dust bath,. Chex has grown her fur out and she’s just beautiful. And Kix is growing into an adult and both don’t mind being picked up, so they're going to be wonderful ambassadors at public presentations.

After the month-long quarantine and they had a clean bill of health, we started a 5 week introduction period where I moved their enclosure closer and closer to our other chinchillas, Cheerio and Pebbles. And then I started sharing toys and furniture between the enclosures so they could start getting used to each other's scents. And then it was time to see how they would all do together!

So all 4 chinchillas - Cheerio, Pebbles, Chex, and Kix - were let out into the Romping Room. I made sure to get footage of their first experience in the new space, and it was just really fun to see how each of them reacted differently. Chex and Cheerio were both off and running around the edges of the room, and they were really curious about every nook and cranny.

Kix was a bit more reserved, but after a bit she started getting more curious and introduced herself to Cheerio, who thankfully accepted her right away! Now Pebbles was the one I was most concerned about with the introduction. When she was first introduced to Cheerio a few years ago, she was really grumpy about the whole situation, and it took months before she accepted Cheerio into her space.

Their relationship is quite strong now, but Pebbles spends the majority of her time inside a hideout and only comes out to eat, groom with Cheerio, and take dust baths. And she can get quite territorial about her space. So it was really interesting that Pebbles didn’t have an issue with either of the new females.

She really just wanted to find a new hideout and chill. Chili Pepper and Cayenne, the Patagonian cavies, also came out to see what was going on. And Chili Pepper was so excited to meet a new friend!

I mean, just look at this popcorning! That is a happy cavy! It really all went so smoothly.

I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction! Within a few hours, everyone was calmer and settling in to their new home. Now in order to make sure the Romping Room was suitable for the chinchillas,.

I built a fun climbing wall for them, which I’m hoping to keep expanding. On the very top is a hide with a stash of hay just for the chinchillas, and along the shelves we have their essentials that are kept separate from the cavies. We did this because chinchillas eat a slightly different diet from cavies, so we had to make sure they had different feeding stations.

So the cavies are fed in the indoor area with the guinea pigs, and they all crowd around and eat all the fresh produce first and don’t leave any behind for the chinchillas to get to. This is good, since chinchillas can easily overeat foods that are too high in sugar and water content, which will seriously throw off their sensitive digestive system. So while the cavies are eating their breakfast, the chinchillas are fed an alfalfa blend pellet up on their shelf so the cavies can’t reach it.

The alfalfa pellets that the chinchillas get have higher calcium and protein content than the timothy grass pellets that the cavies get. And if the cavies eat too many alfalfa pellets, the additional calcium would cause serious issues for them, especially the males. So that’s why we needed to find a way to keep their food separate, and I’m pretty happy with how well it’s working.

The chinchillas also have a water bottle attached to the wall. We chose not to use a bowl of water because chinchillas should never be allowed to get wet. Their fur is so incredibly dense.

If they get wet, it takes a really long time to dry, and it can actually mold or prevent them from being able to thermoregulate properly. The bottle is also out of reach of the cavies, who are super curious and would absolutely knock it down if they could. So, now that it’s been a few weeks since they’ve moved into the Romping room, they’ve all fallen into their own routines and have their favorite activities.

Cheerio was the first one to discover that she could go into the indoor space with the guinea pigs through the little door flaps, and then she spent the next week figuring out new ways to escape from the cavy enclosure. This isn’t a big deal since everything in the compound is safe for her, but she did leave plenty of poops around. And we ended up putting up some panels to prevent her from going out on her midnight adventures.

Cheerio still loves to run around the entire Romping Room, but she also does spend a lot of her time up in the hut on the very top of the shelves. Now Chex was the second one to discover that she could also sneak inside, but after a few days she decided it wasn’t her favorite place. She spends most of the time playing on the logs in the Romping Room and also hanging out on the shelves with her daughter Kix.

Kix also discovered that she could go inside, but she rarely does it and spends most of her time on the middle shelves or on the very top shelf on top of the hut. She’s the youngest of all of our chinchillas, and she does get the zoomies quite often. So you’ll see her zooming around the middle of the Romping Room and playing with anything new that’s in there, especially if it’s fun to chew on.

And Pebbles was the last one to figure out that she could go inside with the guinea pigs. She has several hideouts in the Romping Room that she spends time in, but her absolute favorite place is under the guinea pig’s hide. Basically, she just moved right in with them, and the best part is that she still gets territorial of her hideout, but not with the guinea pigs.

I think it’s adorable that when I go in for my daily cleanings, she'll surprise me by popping out of the hiding place with a sharp little grumble and try and bite my shoe. She’s such a character! She’s an old lady, she only has 3 legs, but she can climb the wall shelf, push her way past the door flap and get inside, and then makes friends with the guinea pigs, and she’s still the toughest chinchilla in town.

It just makes me so happy to be able to see each one of their unique personalities really come out and just seeing them thrive in their new space. I’m so glad we were able to offer Chex and Kix a home, and I’m even happier that they have friends to socialize with and space to run around! I hope you enjoyed getting to know the chinchillas and seeing what’s new with all of our animal friends in the Romping Room!

I want to give another big thanks to everyone who helped us create this space for the animals. It’s already been such a great place for so many to enjoy. And thank you for watching!

If you’d like to continue going on animal adventures with us, be sure to subscribe to Animal Wonders Montana and I’ll see you next week. Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC].