Potato Chip Cats: My Fuzzy Family Part 2- Chillas! (with Pictures)

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Fuzzy Family Part 2- Chillas! (with Pictures)

When I was in 5th grade, my brother and I made up a song (sounded sort of like a bad rhythmic poem) that basically repeated the phrase "chilla chilla" as many times in as many situations as we could think of. To give you a basic idea, it went some thing like "There was a chilla chilla who was a chilla chilla who saw a chilla chilla and went to the chilla chilla" sung very much like a slam poem. Somehow, despite its repetition, we didn't get tired of it as quickly as you'd think. We still remember it vividly today, though we restrain ourselves from bursting out in the Chilla Chilla rap.

That same year, I wrote a prompt (assigned, timed, writing assignment- does anyone else remember these??) about owning a chinchilla. It was my dream animal. I had proven myself capable of taking care of a rodent (I "earned" my first hamster, Hunca Munca, in 4th grade, along with the right to pierced ears) and had my heart set on a chinchilla. I got a perfect 12 on the prompt, in which I explained why a chinchilla was a quiet, cute, manageable pet.

Years went by. Deep down I wanted that chinchilla.

It took some serious research, a few hundred dollars in preparation (split between myself and a well-meaning but incompatible ex-boyfriend), and some sneaking around my parents and Residence Life at my dormitory, but when I was a junior in college, I got that chinchilla. Monsieur Souffle was purchased from a breeder in New Jersey when he was 5 months old. The breeder is (in)famous in  my family- he accent prevented her from pronouncing the letter "l" so when she explained that "Chinchirras no have freas. If there are freas, then you have freas." I had to tell everyone, and we repeat it whenever the situation allows. that  and lived noisily in my dorm bedroom. My poor roommate thought he was dying the first time she heard him "bark" (look it up on youtube- adjust your volume first) and was not a fan of his wheel, which we took down at night despite his nocturnal urges to RUN AROUND FRANTICALLY. We let him run around our bathroom for his "recess" and I was hooked on the utter and completely ridiculous cuteness of this creature. 

Young Souffle pausing momentarily under our bathroom sink. 

A year later, when my schedule was filling with internships and classes, I decided Souffle needed a friend, and adopted Truffle, his new, seemingly mean/dominant companion. The initial meeting between the two of them did not go well, which I expected between 2 alpha males. I tried for weeks to get them to be friends, and finally they were pacified into being cagemates (For anyone wondering, the method that finally worked, after having their cages next to each other, was to thoroughly clean a cage and spray it with vinegar-water and allow them both to explore this new area together). Weeks later, when Truffle had gained considerable weight and a new diet wasn't helping him lose it, I had a sneaking suspicion that maybe he was not a young, dominant male, but rather a defensive, frustrated now PREGNANT female. My suspicions were confirmed a few days later, when I woke up to two wet, tiny, peeping chinchilla kits. Needless to say I wasn't prepared for this, or something called "breedback" and poor Truffle was pregnant again almost instantly. But thankfully, she is a caring mom and Souffle the ideal father. The two kits were adopted by friends when they were age appropriate, as was one baby from the second litter. Now that the parents have been separated for life (no more babies, despite their total cuteness) I kept one girl and one boy from the second litter, Muffin and Mousse respectively, and now I have a little herd of chinchillas, and they are adorable, silly little monsters. I love them. 

The family waking up from a nap at the sound of a much-needed dust bath being prepared.
The triplets of Truffle's second little snacking on dried pineapple. As babies they sit almost bowlegged for balance!
Bribed to sit still for a daily weigh in with a treat. 

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