5 Lessons from The Mother of Chinchillas

A little while back, I had an illustration done of my little family by the amazing artist Christine Bernard. I had stalked her page and loved how her drawings expressed the essence of the people in them and was ecstatic to have her draw us. It was slap bang in the middle of exams and I had trouble keeping up with our correspondence but like I said Christine is amazing and she whipped my illustration up in a matter of hours! If you want to check her out – and you should, you can find her on Instagram here christinebernardauthor.

With that, I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you more about my family and what I have learnt being The Mother of Chinchillas.


Can somebody get me one of these?


1. Patience
Something le boyfriend will tell you I don’t have. I need instant gratification and I need it yesterday! But when the Chinchillas came along with their little pitter pattering feet I had no choice but to learn patience. As cute and cuddly as they may look, they are not cute and cuddly at all. Maybe ‘at all’ is a little bit of a stretch but to be honest they were a stark adjustment to dogs who will love and give you attention no matter what.

Chins, depending on what age you get them and their individual personalities show little affection and don’t really like being picked up and smothered in love. Our relationship is 80/20 with them showing affection very rarely. I had to learn a lot of patience with them and understand that the few fleeting moments they do show love are exceptionally special. Like the time I put Socrates on the plane to take him with me to Port Elizabeth because I was attending a wedding. I have no clue what transpired between the PE airport to OR Tambo but when I collected him at the BidAir Pet Lounge and took him out of his carrier he gave me the longest cuddle ever even if it did last all of 5 minutes!




2. Selflessness
I am not a human mom yet and I do not think I will be for a very long time but what my furbabies have taught me is to be selfless. I put them first at every point in my life. The Chinchillas each have their own cages which they spend most of the day in but need to come out regularly to play, dust bath and get some exercise. We usually do this at night as they are nocturnal animals and snooze during the day but some nights I could just not be bothered and would much rather sit on the couch and be a potato. But I signed up for this job and play time needs to be done so I make the effort even if I do not feel like it and put them first. Our road trip from hell which I might go into detail about in the future taught me this as well.

We were travelling from JHB to PE for Christmas a few years ago when we had the worst case of a series of unfortunate events and was stuck in a problematic car in the middle of the South African summer with 3 animals that could quite possibly die of heatstroke. It was one of the most stressful times in my life as we had to make it to our destination with a broken car, while le boyfriend did everything he could to get us on the road again I shifted into mother mode and made sure my boys were okay. I recall buying around 10 bags of ice from a garage in Middleburg, smashing them on the side of the road like a crazy person and separating bits of ice into smaller plastic bags and putting one into each Chins cage so they would not overheat.


3. Awareness
We got our Chins at a local pet shop. I had been looking for an animal to keep me company and was going to get a hamster but a week before we brought Socs home an aunt mentioned I should get a Chinchilla. At the time I knew very little about Chins and had never even seen one IRL. So when we walked into the pet shop a week later and we saw Chinchillas we knew this had to be fate. Around 9 months later we got Thor and Loki and that is how our family became complete. What I didn’t know was that pet shops are not the greatest place to get animals, all you need is the cash and they will hand over an animal just like that. As a kid, the best place to be at the mall was the pet shop I always loved animals but having Chinchillas opened my eyes to the truth about the pet trade.

I have read a lot of articles about the hash conditions animals face when they are put into breeding in order to keep up the demand for potential buyers at the pet shop and even though I got my boys at a pet shop I wouldn’t encourage the purchasing of animals from a store. I wish I knew then, what I know now, and even though my pet shop seemed legit I can’t imagine what horrors may be going on behind the scenes.

Now a big believer in adoption and if you want any kind of pet, this would be the best way to go. You not only give an animal a loving home but you can usually trust they have come from better conditions and rescue centres always do home checks! Another thing I didn’t like about the pet shop was the misinformation about animals. I was advised by worker at the pet shop, I could put a harness on Socs and take him out for walks, this was inaccurate and could have potentially ended badly because Chins mostly have cartilage and if I had put him on a harness and he started running (which he would have) he could have been badly hurt!


4. Teamwork
Our lives are a bit all over the place. With my studies and Gs work we don’t really have a set schedule. But the boys have taught us to be a bit more grounded. We take them out to play at least every second day and clean their cage together weekly. It is a team effort to look after our boys and we seem to be doing well. G feeds them each morning and night (he is brilliant) and I make sure they don’t get too many treats.

The Chins care ranges from medium to hard and we always have to be aware of health scares with them. We once purchased a different type of food for the boys when we couldn’t find our regular Chinchilla mix, Socs ate a little bit too much and I ended up having to rush him to the vet – if a Chinchilla gets bloated it can be fatal! I got hold of G and he rushed home from work and we took him to the vet. He ended up being okay and it was just a little tummyache from eating too much. He gave us a scare but the two of us worked together in order to keep him safe.


5. Happiness
The Chins may not be the type of pets I wanted in the affection department but they are definitely the ones I needed. They have taught me so much and I don’t believe that this is all for nothing there must be a greater purpose in life that the Chins are preparing me for or maybe this is all I will ever be, Mother of Chins and I do think that will be enough for me. My boys have filled my heart with happiness and made my house a home. They are cute, mischievous and also quite intelligent and they are the centre of my home.



Thanks for reading

XX Cass

Hi everyone, I hope you enjoyed this post about the Chinchillas. If you have any more questions or would like me to do more posts about my escapades with them let me know in the comments below. Do you have any pets, what have you learnt from them?

I think I need another illustration depicting me as the Mother of Chins any artists out there think that they can help me out?

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