I received my chinchilla, Snowball, from a friend a little over a year ago. At that time he was already 8 years old; typically chinchillas live to 10 – 12 years. He was timid, shy, and scared of everything around him. He would sleep with his eyes half opened as a sign of protecting himself. Whenever we tried to pet him, he would run to hide in his timothy hay bungalow. We bought him a new 2 story cage with 2 separator levels which gave him a total of 4 levels to jump and prance around. He’s given plenty of hay, pellets, and water daily so he can become the happiest chinchilla he could be. Since the summer gets pretty hot where I live, we put ice around his cage and blow a fan so that he won’t get a heat stroke from the warm temperature. He grew to be a part of the family. Every one would say good morning to him when we walked down the stairs to the kitchen. When we walked up the stair back into our bedrooms, we would open up his cage and give him a good pet, sometimes giving him a scratch under the ear – where he liked it most.
Throughout this year, he became happier and gave us joy every day. He would sleep with his eyes fully closed and in various funny positions which included him being on his side with all 4 legs extended. He would want us to give him a pellet every day by hand before dumping the rest of the feedings into his food bowl.
But a couple weeks ago, he suddenly stopped eating. He also didn’t produce any feces either. Chinchillas produce feces every 1 to 2 minutes and will poop anywhere and everywhere. So obviously this was the first sign of illness. This concerned us as chinchilla’s health can deteriorate at a fast pace. After multiple trips to the vet, we finally diagnosed that he had G.I. stasis – when his gastrointestinal tracts don’t move and hence not allowing him to pass his food. He would be bloated and feel like he’s not hungry. X-rays showed that he had huge amounts of gas in his system – like all rodents- but his were more than usual. I asked the vet what may have caused this, and he said sometimes we will never find out. G.I. stasis also occurs in a lot of older chinchillas, and Snowball’s age is getting up there.
Currently, he’s receiving medication from the vet once every couple days to try and get his intestinal tracks to begin moving again. I just wish he would be healthy again. Pets become a part of our lives and a part of our families. We may often take them for granted and think they’ll always be there, but they won’t. They have lifespans as well, and will one day leave us. They cannot advocate for themselves and it is up to us, their humans, to do so.
This experience makes me think about any relationship one may have. Whether you’re close friends, or acquaintances, anyone can one day leave you. Or, it could be the other way around and you leave them. If you cherish the relationship and the times, good and bad, you have, don’t be delayed to let them know. A small appreciative note, a card, or a simple hug can show your appreciation.
Snowball, I just wish for you to get better and be the happy, healthy, jumping chinchilla that you were a couple weeks ago. I pray that God will put his hand on you and heal you because I’m not quite done giving you belly rubs and ear scratches just yet.