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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-29-2009, 10:34 AM Thread Starter
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Please help! Unexpected birth!

Hello all! I'm new here & need a little help. First, a little history: I'm a lifelong pet companion & I've had a wide variety of pets in my day & being brought up on a farm helped me to understand the importance of proper pet care. I've had cats, dogs, horses, goats, pigs, possums, snakes, skunks, squirrels, birds, rabbits, a wide variety of fresh water fish & many more (I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but I'm a bit frazzled at the moment).

I’ve always tried to adopt rescue animals & many of my pets have been rescue animals, or abandoned wildlife. I’ve never bred any animal, aside from cats & dogs, but I have assisted with the birthing of human babies, horses, pigs, cats, & dogs with no problems to speak of.

After doing some research, my husband & I decided to find our kids a semi-exotic pet. We settled on a Chinchillas & found Star at a local pet store.

As soon as we got Star home, he gelled into our family very well. We were sure we’d done the proper research & prior to taking on the responsibility, we coached out children on how to interact with the new pet. We’d gotten him a home that was close to us at all times, but away from the dogs & cats. I was positive that the chin would be fine here; especially considering the combined years of pet care & experience my husband & I share.

We took him to the vet, & she assured us that he was a healthy normal chin. After having Star for a year or so, we thought we'd get "him" a companion. We found a local owner who was looking to sell one of her boys, so we adopted Izzy into our home; he was also a wonderful addition. Neither of them seemed to have any problem adapting to life here.

I’d never had any experience in deciphering the sex of chins before, so I trusted my vet when she said Star was a boy, Izzy was very obviously a boy & I never saw the need to “check” that Star was “still” a boy.


They’ve been together happily for about a year now, everything seemed fine. We feed them pellets, Alfalfa & Timothy Hay, we give them treats twice a week & give them free run time, with a dust bath three times a week. They never fought, & everything seemed fine. Even my 15-year-old cat likes the Chins & she doesn’t like anyone except for me & my husband!

Then we experienced a HUGE shock on December 27th.

I noticed that Star was acting a bit fidgety, so I went to check on her & I found a BABY in the cage with her & Izzy! I was flabbergasted to find that Star was not only a GIRL, but also a MAMA! I didn’t know what to do or how to react! I immediately checked the cage for more babies, and then I coaxed her to me to inspect her. She was more than willing to come to me & be held. She seemed a bit nervous when I picked her up, & she was obviously still a bit dilated. This seemed odd, because baby was fluffy, clean, eyes open & very active!

Izzy took to fatherhood very well, he’s constantly preening, cleaning & cuddling baby. Star, on the other hand is acting more than a bit off. She climbs the cage like she’s going stir crazy; she is nursing the kit regularly as far as I can tell, but when she’s not cuddling or nursing baby, she’s running the cage & chewing her toys like mad.

Aside from Star’s outbursts, the family unit seems strong & they seem to be very close knit. If Star’s not running the cage, or chewing like a cribbing horse, she’s doting on baby. I’m very worried about her.

Baby seems very healthy. He’s active, he climbs the ramps already, he seems to react to us well, he seems really normal, as far as I can tell, but how can I be sure? I’ve never had any experience with kits before.

I feel like such an irresponsible pet owner. Now, I don’t know what to do! Our little Christmas miracle is so sweet, & very cute, but I’m afraid we’re doing something wrong!

Any advice is greatly appreciated! I feel like I’m walking in the dark here & it seems that every website I find with info on raising kits has conflicting information. We only have 1 vet in our area that accepts Chins & she’s the one who told us that Star was a boy, so I’m not jumping at the chance to see her again.

Should I seek out a new vet? Is a vet necessary in this situation? I know they can mate right after delivery, how can I tell if Star is expecting again? Is it safe for her to conceive right after having her first baby?

We just lost a very important member of our family in November, our dog Floyd got hit by a car & died suddenly, so we welcome this new addition. I just want to make sure I’m doing the right thing!

I’d like to keep Izzy in with Star & baby, because he seems to help out a lot, is that safe? Is that the proper thing to do? Thanks in advance for your replies!

Sorry for the frantic post, I haven’t slept much since baby came to us, I’m a bit stressed.


EDIT: My husband just reminded me that life finds a way & that nature usually takes it course. He also said that if something was drastically wrong (such as mama rejecting baby, etcetera), that we'd have noticed by now. Perhaps I might have been a bit paranoid the past few days, but I feel really guilty about not even knowing the sex of our baby! She's been with us for 2 years now & her behavior is really starting to scare me. She has calmed down a bit in the last 24 hours, but she's still nervous & fidgety, as am I. Thanks again! HAPPY HOLIDAYS & BLESSED NEW YEAR TO ALL!

Last edited by Muze226; 12-29-2009 at 10:42 AM.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-29-2009, 02:04 PM
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First of all, congratulations on the new addition

I'm pro letting the dad help out, but if you do not want any more kits, you really need to remove him from the cage, and place him in an other cage for about 3-5 days.
Just keep the two cages lose together, so the adults can see and smell each other. This makes it very easy to re-introduce them.

You might also want to consider getting him castrated. There is a risk, but it's minimal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muze226 View Post
Aside from Star’s outbursts, the family unit seems strong & they seem to be very close knit. If Star’s not running the cage, or chewing like a cribbing horse, she’s doting on baby. I’m very worried about her.

Baby seems very healthy. He’s active, he climbs the ramps already, he seems to react to us well, he seems really normal, as far as I can tell, but how can I be sure? I’ve never had any experience with kits before.
If he's moving around, making sounds and mom and dad accept him, there's little chance of there being anything wrong with him.
You should weigh him once a day though.
1-2 days after birth, the kits can loose a couple of grams, or stay on the same weight.
After this period, they should begin to gain 1-2 grams a day, for about a week, and then the weight gain slowly increases.

Quote:
I feel like such an irresponsible pet owner. Now, I don’t know what to do! Our little Christmas miracle is so sweet, & very cute, but I’m afraid we’re doing something wrong!
If you still don't know how to check gender, now might be the time to look into it, other than that, it sounds like you are doing fine

Quote:
Any advice is greatly appreciated! I feel like I’m walking in the dark here & it seems that every website I find with info on raising kits has conflicting information. We only have 1 vet in our area that accepts Chins & she’s the one who told us that Star was a boy, so I’m not jumping at the chance to see her again.
This is very sad but true: As a general rule of thumb, you need to have some idea about what's wrong with your animal, before you visit the vet.
As far as I can understand, it's quite common for "educated" people not being able to tell the gender of rodents. With chinchillas this is a bit sad, because it's very easy if you've just seen 1 male and 1 female (and you know you've seen one of each ). You can tell the gender right after they are born.

And you do not need to worry about mom. It's hard to give birth and nurse a baby. She just want's some alone time, and when she has dad to help her out, that not a problem because he will take care of the kit.
If you put him into another cage the chance is that she'll just spend more time with the kit.
If you want to, you can also put the kit in with dad a couple of times a day.

Quote:
Should I seek out a new vet? Is a vet necessary in this situation? I know they can mate right after delivery, how can I tell if Star is expecting again? Is it safe for her to conceive right after having her first baby?
Nah, no need for a vet.

She might be pregnant again, because she's ready just after birth and a few days forward. It's not the best thing in the world, but it shouldn't be a problem either.
You just need to give her a lot of calcium so you are sure she has enough for her, milk for the kit, and i she's expecting again, calcium for the new kit/kits bones.

What type of feed do you use?
Females used for breeding need a higher content of protein than a pet chinchilla does.
Most standard chinchilla pellets should contain this though.

So weigh the kit once a day.
Give mom some extra calcium (cuttle bone is a good thing)
Make sure you hold the kit every day, so it get used to humans.
Think about getting dad fixed.

/Pia

I apologized if my english is not correct
Owned by chinchillas since 1997
Breeding since 2005


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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-29-2009, 02:12 PM
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Muze, I see that you're in SC, how close are you to Charlotte? Our rescue uses an excellent chinchilla vet there that's neutered many for us and really does know her stuff. It may be a bit of a drive, but it does save money in the long run.

We are as gods to the beasts of the fields. We order the time o' their birth and the time o' their death. Between times, we ha' a duty. - Terry Pratchett.

"Men have forgotten this truth", said the fox, "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-29-2009, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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Smile

Thank you so much! Believe it or not, you guys really calmed me down! I know what a male chin looks like, Izzy is obviously male. I feel kind of silly taking a vets word on the sex of our little mama, though. She is the only vet here that specializes in exotic animals, & as far as I can tell, her $250-an-hour service is usually spent with reptiles & amphibians.

I feel like I neglected her in a way, because I never looked. I just hugged, cuddled & kissed her a lot

I can see how it would be confusing if you weren’t accustomed to rodents. I really feel silly considering I can tell the sex of my comet goldfish, & had no idea Star was a girl.

She’s our shining dark Star (she’s a black velvet) & Dad is a standard gray. Star has more of a pointy face & Izzy has more of the puffy face.

We’re very lucky to have children patient enough (well, most of the time they’re patient enough) to bond with the chins & we’re extremely fortunate to have 2 Chins that have very loveable personalities.

Like all animals, they don’t always want to be handled, but most of the time, they’re up for a free run when we put the baby-doors up. The love to have their little heads scratched & run across your shoulders in you sit in the floor while they play.

I’m not looking forward to the trip to storage, but I’m going to dig out the smaller cage we have to temporarily place Izzy in & I do plan to rotate baby for brief periods of time. My husband is an excellent carpenter, & we have plenty of chin-friendly wood around, so we’re planning on building a bigger home for them.

I would love to travel to Charlotte to see a vet who is willing & able to fix Izzy. We’re about 2 hours from Charlotte & I think Izzy is hearty enough to make the trip. Thank you so much! That eases my mind more than you know!

I don’t think the vet we saw was incompetent necessarily, just a little out of practice maybe?

We’re almost certain that baby was born on Christmas, because we were in & out all day & they both seemed to hide from Christmas Eve on.

At this point, we’ve had the one kit & if another comes in 3 months or so, we’ll welcome it, but we’re far from wanting to breed them.

My stepson had a laugh at my expense, come to think of it, I guess me being more nervous than our new mama was kind of funny. He’s very quick & he looked at me when we discovered baby & said, “You’re white as a ghost! You saw your niece born when you were 12! They cut my little brother out of your belly & YOU WATCHED! You help to deliver twin baby horses! You helped to birth a goat & you pulled the stillborn kitten out of my Mom’s cat when she was going into shock & that little fuzzy thing freaked you out? He’s not even bloody, or messy or anything!”

He’s right! I was perplexed & still am to a degree, why was she still dilated & swollen, but the baby was puffy & clean? The baby was moving around the cage & she still looked swollen in her lady parts, is that normal?

We have given her cuttle bone & we’ve put another water bottle in the cage, that 1 part organic apple juice, 1 part water. She really likes that & so does Dad

We changed the bedding, because there was a bit of dust bath debris in there from when I put the fishbowl bathtub in there last & I wasn’t sure if baby or mom could go near the pumice yet.

I guess I had a bad case of the mom jitters, & I read on one website (that is apparently very wrong) that mama chins can give birth to multiple babies over a four day period. I was so scared that she was going to deliver another one & that I was going to miss it!

Thank you so much, you guys have no idea how much you calmed me down, I was scared to death for Star. You guys are awesome! Even since I posted this earlier, she’s calmed down a great deal. I’ll keep you guys updated!
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-29-2009, 04:04 PM
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2 hours in a car shouldn't be a problem at all.

111 days is roughly 4 months
That gives you a bit more time than 3 months

You can tell the sex of a chin with out looking at the obvious things at them male
There is some distance between the pointy thing and the anus on a male, and none on a female

/Pia

I apologized if my english is not correct
Owned by chinchillas since 1997
Breeding since 2005


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-29-2009, 04:42 PM
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We use Dr. Powers at Carolina Veterinary Hospital (which is actually in Huntersville, right outside of Charlotte) They specialize in exotics! http://www.carolinavet.com/huntersville.html

We are as gods to the beasts of the fields. We order the time o' their birth and the time o' their death. Between times, we ha' a duty. - Terry Pratchett.

"Men have forgotten this truth", said the fox, "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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