I have two Chinchillas, Baxter and Basil. Baxter has his own instagram account, which sometimes features Basil, that you can follow here. This is the story of how they came to be in my life.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted a chinchilla. The first time I encountered the uber soft little nuggets of fluff was when I was at a birthday party that featured an exotic animal display, which included a couple different reptiles, birds, and most importantly, A CHINCHILLA. I still remember being a mesmerized 6 year old, watching as the chinchilla took a dust bath in a fish bowl.
When I moved into my first apartment, I lived with two friends who owned a cat, so I had some pet action in my life. However, after we moved to different apartments, I was definitely left missing a furry, pawed creature. A chinchilla seemed like the best option for my lifestyle.
I bought my future chinchilla a GIANT cage. Seriously, like, a giant cage. It’s easily 5 feet tall, and has four different stories. I threw in some huts, tubes, chew toys, a marble slab (chinchilla’s like it coooold), some extra shelves, water and food dispensers, bedding, and a dust bath to recreate the scene from my 6 year old epiphany about how awesome chins were. (Chins meaning the abbreviated version of chinchillas, not the human body part at the base of the face.)
Baxter joined the family and took over the chinchilla mansion on November 17th, 2015. At first, he was very shy, and definitely not very interested in me. I slowly built rapport with him, feeding him dried cranberries out of my hand to try and get him used to me. After about a month or so, Baxter finally got to the point where he’d come over to the side of the cage when I walked in the room, and would let me scratch behind his ears on occasion.
Flash forward to a year later, and I decided I wanted to add another chin into the mix. I brought home Basil, a little baby chinchilla who was like half the size of Baxter. I started by keeping Basil in a separate cage that was right next to Baxter’s, so that they could smell each other, talk to each other, and recognize each other’s presence before meeting directly. After a few days, I brought Baxter and Basil together in the bathroom to meet each other in person. They were definitely a little cautious at first, but after about 10 minutes of sniffing, chasing, and interacting, Basil started to get a bit scared, so I separated the two back to their separate cages. I repeated this process every day or so, watching carefully and separating the chinchillas at the first sign of distress. After about two weeks, the two were getting along really well, happily playing. Baxter even began cleaning Basil, caring for him like his own little baby.
I knew Baxter would be territorial over his cage mansion, so I started by putting Baxter in Basil’s cage, as Basil wasn’t as territorial, having only lived in in for a few weeks. They got along really well at that point. After another few days, I combined them both into Baxter’s cage, which was much bigger and where the two would ultimately live. It definitely took them both a little getting used to, but before I knew it they were playing, cuddling, cleaning each other, and getting along really well.
I think adding Basil to the family was a really cool thing. Baxter has definitely been happier and less stressed since Basil moved in, and it makes me feel better knowing that Baxter isn’t alone all day and has a buddy to hang out with when no one is home.