Now that you’ve done your research and you’re ready to bring home a chinchilla, your next task is finding a reputable breeder in your area. It can be overwhelming but if you know what to look for, you shouldn’t trouble recognizing the good breeders from the bad.
Here are 12 tips for finding chinchilla breeders you can trust:
1) Ask friends or local chinchilla groups.
If anyone you know owns a chinchilla, they might be a great source of information for finding a local breeder.
Another option is contacting a local chinchilla group by searching Facebook or other active online forums.
Once you’ve been given some names, it’s a good idea to search for testimonials from additional past customers. This will add to the breeder’s credibility and you’ll have an idea who is worth pursuing further.
2) Ask the breeder questions.
A well-respected breeder will have no problem answering your questions. They should be knowledgeable about caring for chinchillas and keeping healthy breeding lines.
Be wary of breeders who avoid answering questions because it could be an indicator that they are more interested in a quick sale than the well-being of their chinchillas. Some good questions to ask are:
- How long have you been breeding chinchillas?
- When can kits be separated from their mother?
- What food are your chinchillas eating?
- Can I see the mother and father?
- Do you handle kits daily?
- How do you treat chinchillas that show signs of illness?
These are all legitimate questions, and a quality breeder should be happy to answer them – it’s an opportunity to brag and off that they’re doing things correctly. You can judge their answers for yourself, but if they refuse to answer any of this – that’s going to be a big, bad, red flag!
3) Does the breeder seem interested in you?
A breeder who cares about the well-being of their chinchillas will want to know more about you and test your knowledge regarding proper chinchilla care. Be prepared to answer questions like:
- What will you feed them?
- Will you get them spayed/neutered?
- Are you planning on getting two chinchillas?
- Do you have a Chinchilla cage ready? How big is it?
- Do you have air conditioning at home?
- Are you prepared to take care of a chinchilla for the next 10-15 years?
If the breeder doesn’t seem all that concerned about who is adopting their pet, that can certainly be a red flag. If you need to learn about proper Chinchilla care, we’ve got you covered.
4) Will the breeder let you visit their home before purchasing a Chinchilla?
If a breeder won’t let you visit their home (assuming they operate out of their home, of course.) prior to purchasing a chinchilla from them, it’s a clear sign that they’re hiding something.
You should never agree to purchase any pet before looking at their living conditions and checking for signs of illness or disease. This doesn’t mean they need to let you visit whenever you want, but they should make an appointment to meet with you.
Note if the chinchilla breeder operates away from their home, or has another building on the property or something similar, you don’t need to visit their actual home obviously, the point is to see where the animals live. Just wanted to clear that up before we get angry breeders asking us why everyone wants to see their homes!
5) Observe for signs of illness.
During your visit with the breeder, take time to observe their adult chinchillas and kits for signs of illness or disease. Common symptoms include:
- Poor coat condition (Dull, matted, patchy)
- Labored breathing
- Unexplained wounds, bites
- Unhealthy weight
A reputable breeder should be taking proper care of sick animals, and certainly not trying to have anyone adopt them for a number of reasons! Firstly, the new pet owner may not be fully aware on how to care for them correctly.
6) Take note of living conditions.
Checking for safe living conditions is just as important as checking for signs of illness.
Signs of well-maintained cages are:
- Kits housed in one-level enclosures
- Access to unlimited hay and water
- No pungent odors, an indicator that cages are cleaned regularly
- Room temperature is kept between 60°F to 70°F
- Each cage has toys and somewhere to hide
7) Are kits old enough to leave their mother?
The earliest a kit can be weaned from its mother is 8 weeks but anywhere from 8-12 weeks is recommended.
It’s okay for a breeder to sell a kit before they are weaned but it’s not okay for a kit to be sent to their new home before they are 8 weeks old. If a breeder pushes taking them home early, walk away.
There could always be exceptions to certain rules, but it should still raise serious red flags when a breeder is willing to bend them. It makes you have to take into question everything else.
8) How old are chinchillas when they are bred?
Chinchillas can reach sexual maturity as early as 7 months of age, but it’s recommended that you wait until 8 months for males and 9-10 months for females before initiating the mating process. If a breeder is encouraging mating at too young of an age, it puts the female chinchilla under unnecessary stress leading to poor health and future complications for her kits.
9) Does the breeder have a website?
A well-made website is a great indicator of professionalism and passion for the hobby. It’s also a resource for getting to know a breeder before contacting them.
You should find information about the breeder, their history, policies, breeding/purchasing processes, breeding lines, contact information, and available litters by accessing their website.
10) Are they linked to other breeders or a local Chinchilla association?
A connection to other local breeders or chinchilla association is a sure sign that a breeder is passionate about the animal and operates a legitimate business.
It would be strange for another breeder to link themselves to known “backyard breeders” or poorly run businesses and the same can be said for reputable associations.
11) Does the breeder provide after-sale communication or follow-up care?
While choosing a breeder, look for indicators supporting after-sale communication and follow-up care. This can be determined by talking to past customers, reading testimonials, and how quickly the breeder responds to current communication from you.
It’s unreasonable to expect instant responses, but you shouldn’t be waiting longer than a day to receive a response. If a breeder is difficult to reach before the sale, they will likely be impossible to reach once the sale is over.
12) Does the breeder have any policies or warranty?
Before contacting a breeder, look online to see if you can find any information regarding their sales policies. This might help you learn about their business practices and what they expect from potential buyers.
Some chinchilla breeders will offer a limited warranty that will cover the loss of the chinchilla within the first month if it can be proven that you purchased the chinchilla with a predisposed condition or illness.
Now, it may be difficult for you to prove that to a breeder who is going out of their way to not honor their warranty, but that’s more of a worst-case scenario that can be avoided, in most cases, by following the rest of the instructions from this guide.
It might take some time to find a chinchilla breeder you can trust but it’s worth it for the peace of mind. Poorly bred chinchillas can have temperament problems and are more prone to genetic deformities and illnesses.
Do your research before choosing a breeder, and if you feel uncomfortable with their business practices at anytime, it’s okay to walk away and try another breeder.
It’s worth pointing out that there is some wiggle-room in some of these rules, whereas others would be a 100% reason to avoid that breeder. It’s more about looking at things as a whole, and seeing if there are any worrying patterns that start to show themselves as you dig a little deeper.
The chinchilla breeder may have perfectly good explanations for some of these things if they fall short, and it’s not a bad idea to communicate with them. It’s when you start seeing fail after fail, or failures in the most important things, that you really need to look elsewhere.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to walk away if you aren’t satisfied with everything you hear and see from them.