Chinchillas with Special Needs
Thumbelina was born on 23 November 2014 from 2 very good parents that my son received from someone as a gift. We know the parents, the grandparents and the siblings of Nemo and Dory, the parents.
She was part of a first litter of 3 that were born when Dory was 14 months old. Her brother and sister weighed in the mid 50g. Thumbelina weighed 19g. There were a million reasons why she should not have survived even the first hour. She chose to live and put up the bravest fight I have ever seen in my life.
Never, since I got my first chinchillas years ago have any chinchilla touched my heart like she did. I have a lot of very special chinchillas that defies the odds every single day by just living normal lives. I have seen many a brave fight by chinchillas that came here more dead than alive. Never have I seen this.
No chinchilla I ever shared touched so many other people. No chinchilla gave me as much joy just to find her alive and doing her thing every morning and keep it up for another day. She stopped growing when she was 6 weeks old but she just kept going, day after day.
Never have any chinchilla woken so much anger in me and for that I apologize. Some of what I said was not necessary, a lot was and for this girl I will say it again.
I do not share chinchillas that do not belong to me or their kits. For her I made an exception and I claimed her as my own. My son never knew and he will not know. She was my girl and my responsibility. The decisions were mine and I chose to share her story right from the start.
In her short life she achieved what took me years. She raised awareness that I tried to do for years and it took her just over 2 months. Because of her I will write what people need to know to help other babies and to understand that you can not prescribe to Mother Nature. She stayed alive to help me make people aware.
Right from the start I knew she had almost no chance. Every single day she gave me hope. I discussed her with friends and we all knew what was coming. I simply blocked it out of my head and we lived day by day, blind to everything else, just taking it as it comes. We did this for 60 days.
The last few days it became obvious that we will not beat this. She just never gave up, right to the end. There were small victories that gave me a lot of hope. Her last day was even better than a few days before. She slowed down a bit last night but there have been worse days and worse nights. I was less worried last night when I last checked on her than many other nights.
I found her early this morning, in her favorite sleeping spot. She went to sleep and just didn’t wake up. There was never any suffering, she lived each day to the fullest. Always busy, always glad to see me, always wanting attention, always doing her thing.
I’m sorry, I can’t carry on. Don’t know when I’ll be back but I will write the articles you need. Just not now.
I often post pics of Lenny. I usually then get asked what is wrong with him. Time to share his life story.
Lenny was bought by a nice couple about 2 years ago. I can’t remember who bred him but it was arranged that they pick him up here. He was supposed to be over 8 weeks old but he was small and very quiet for a young boy. There was nothing else wrong.
A few months later they contacted me because Lenny stopped growing and had difficulty moving. His one back leg went lame. I guessed he had a stroke and told them what to do. Lenny stayed the same size but over the next few months he went more quiet. They asked me to take him in. It was about a year ago.
Lenny is not a real rescue. He was never neglected by this people. The last decision his owners made was to send him here where he can be better cared for.
There are so many things that could’ve caused this. Usually it is the result of bad breeding, bad food or weaning them way too early. I don’t know. I do know that the other Lenny’s do not survive or live long. Breeders hide them and owners think it was their fault.
When I took Lenny in he barely moved. He ate and drank water. Not much else. He weighed 190g. I gave him a friend. First it was the girls I weaned. When it was time to move them I left one girl with him. The change was spectacular. Within days he started walking around in the cage. In the beginning I bathed him. Within a month he climbed into the bath by himself and did what he should do in the bath.
He still has no balance. His back legs are still stiff but I give him physio. He will walk and just fall over. In the past he just lay there. Pretty soon he got up immediately and kept going. Now he takes it in his stride. A few months ago I posted a pic of Lenny in the wheel. He got in but couldn’t make it turn. I had to take the wheel out because he would get hurt. I customized a cage for them.
Lenny has a glass dust bath that is not as deep as the others. His fur is mottled and has terrible density but he shines like a new penny. It is a sign of good health. There is nothing wrong with his appetite, metabolism, intelligence or will to live. He is fully functional and does everything himself. Obviously he will never mate and never developed the urge. I believe his development was halted before he was even close to puberty.
Lenny is a happy boy, handicaps and all. He now weighs 240g and will stay this weight. He adores attention. I gave him a ladder and waited. A few nights ago I posted the pics. He used the ladder to climb on his house. I was speechless.
Lenny will not live to a ripe old age. I have no idea how long he will live. What I do know is that he will live what live he has to the fullest, the Lenny way.
In January he will also be on national TV. I chose to show the country only one of my chinchillas. I picked Lenny.
She was brought to me when she was 8 weeks old. A breeder put her in a cage with an adult male. The male wanted to mate with her, ripped her to pieces and all but killed her. The breeder brought her to me to put her to sleep because he was too big a coward to take her to a Vet.
Scarlett is the only true rescue Willie or I didn’t have to buy. The breeder left her here to die. I decided to give her a chance. For the next month I spent hours every day cleaning her wounds. She was in no state to handle a course of antibiotics, it would’ve killed her. The wounds were only skin deep but I could see her skull. I had to remove every single hair and piece of dust. If I missed one it would fester and kill her.
I was lucky and she was strong. She wanted to live. I still can’t believe the wounds didn’t get infected. Her one ear was almost torn off, her tail was almost torn off, her head was a mess and there was more wound than skin on her back. It started to heal but it healed slowly. I thought she would lose her tail but it was the first to heal. The lesions on her back healed next but the wounds on her head took 2 months.
Her ears will never stand up. With all the cleaning I had to do she became very scared of me. After her wounds healed it took a whole year to win back her confidence. Eventually I did and she climbs on me. I am just not allowed to hold her.
In a few months Scarlett will be 7 years old. After I went through all that with her I knew what I had to do. I started rescuing chinchillas. I also started to try and educate breeders.
Rescuing chinchillas is a lot easier than educating breeders. With the rescues I have the chance to make a difference, even if just for a few months or a few years. With Scarlett it became a lot of years.
With many breeders I don’t have any chance. I just take care of their mistakes and the breeding chinnies they don’t want anymore because they bred them into the ground.
Then people want to know why I lose my temper.
Scarlett passed away in June 2014. RIP brave girl.