Chinchilla peeking out between bed and dresser


It’s not a very good picture (I’ll replace it when I can), but my regular readers know that I have been stressing about either placing my chinchilla with new owners OR moving her to California to a yet-to-be-chosen retirement home.

Either was going to be stressful for her and for me (and for my very patient husband). From New Jersey to California, especially when we don’t have a new place yet and haven’t sold this one, would be … complicated.

But re-homing a pet is a major challenge in life, as anyone who has ever had to do it knows.

The search is over. A good friend, and former assistant, had mentioned a month ago she was interested in Gizzy.

And today Gizzy and her trousseau moved further south in NJ, to what is really the PERFECT home for her: younger, healthy people with experience with small mammals and large ones, and definitely pet people.

I’m not really a pet person

Everyone laughs at me when I say this, and points to the spoiling of the little grey furball by yours truly.

I’ve had Gizzy for over five years, and enjoyed most of it.

She only had to sit there and look at me for my heart to melt. Because she is so beautiful (note to self: must post better picture) and I’m a sucker.

When she did additional things, like sit on my lap, touch noses for a treat, or give me her paw (if you don’t melt when an animal does this…), it was gravy.

‘Owner’ is a misnomer – expect to be more of a zookeeper

But chinchillas are problematic as pets, since they are not really domesticated (disregard Youtube videos) because they are awake for very short periods, generally dislike being picked up or petted (Gizzy chose to sit on my lap), and run entirely on their own timetable. They are overproduced by unscrupulous breeders who sell them to people who don’t realize the chinchilla can live TWENTY YEARS under the right conditions.

They are wild animals, and as such, chinchilla shelters are overwhelmed by mistreated, ignored, or badly understood chinnies who are confined to cages forever. You are given the role of zookeeper when you get one, for relatively little return of affection (the stinker loves my daughter better than me, and behaves – for treats – much better).

You can’t return them to the Andes. And they won’t remain alive, like feral cats, outdoors. They can’t get too hot or survive much humidity. Go look all this up if ever tempted to buy one; if you want a chinchilla, please rescue one.


All of the above is understood by her new family/keepers, and I am so grateful they took her, today, in spite of all this (and have another family member with a chinchilla who told them the exact same things). There were many boxes – hay, treats, housing materials, the pieces to an enclosure, child-proofing gates, a roomy cage, volcanic dust, water bottles – all the stuff that either came with her (like the roomy cat carrier) or we acquired.

So Gizzy is squared away, and I can have the spare bedroom emptied, cleaned, and repainted – and will have to get used to that door being open, as it was unless a child was closeted away, until Gizzy became the rodent who lived under the bed.

I will miss her, but I am not really a pet person. She was my little love, and my responsibility, and I took that very seriously. This will be better for her. I literally can’t do the things she needs – each day it was getting physically trickier, even as I loved to have her walk on my back – when she deigned to.

Changes are unrelenting in moving us forward. There is no going back any more, only savoring everything for the last time here. It is upsetting after 37 years, and high time.

And I am proud of myself for figuring out how to take a picture with the iPhone, and email it to myself in a blog post. I guess the old brain still works a bit. I even put in the alt-text.


10 thoughts on “A little friend moves on

  1. Widdershins

    Bravo. This was a big-hearted thing to do…. and your’ heart will have a Gizzy-sized hole in it for a while. But it’s so wonderful that she’s got new staff-persons who understand her. 🙂


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks – it was hard AND necessary, a tough combination.

      I laugh at the ‘staff’ part, because, like with cats, it’s exactly right. They don’t contribute much to anything – because we’re removed that possibility from their lives: no hunting, or in Gizzy’s case, browsing on plants, so we have to give them everything they need.

      She’ll be fine and I’ll remember her fondly (and get a picture every now and then). It was a responsibility I took seriously, but you know it weighed because (all together now) I’m not a pet person! Just a Gizzy person, and lately I think she was getting even less from me. Just wish I could explain, but of course you can’t.

      I like your expression: Gizzy-sized hole.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Janna G. Noelle

    I’m glad you found her a new home. I was concerned by the blog title that she had passed on. This post was very educational. I didn’t really know anything about chinchillas beforehand other than the fact that I’d sure as heck never get one before I live in horror of almost all rodents.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I worried about the title, too, but not many people realize how long they can live, and now some will. I had her over five years, and I’m so happy with her new home. I couldn’t have designed it better if I’d gotten everything on my wish list.

      One of the sweetest things about Gizzy, a rodent, was that she never used teeth or her powerful back legs with nails to get away from me, even when she was scared and I was having to give her medicine, and put mush inside her cheek with a tiny syringe. She just wanted to get away, never to hurt. Sweet little thing.

      She’s very fast – but not at all dangerous.


  3. joey

    Aw, yeah, she’s super cute. It’s the ears, man, oh those ears! Squee!
    I’m glad you made this hard decision in her best interest and that her new home is fantastic! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’m happy – because this has the potential to make a far more interesting life for Gizzy – and I don’t have to worry that she’ll be cared for. I’ll miss her, but I have to admit it was getting very hard for me to provide anything more than food and space well, and it wasn’t going to get better. She may have less space, and less freedom all the time, but I think it will be balanced by getting a lot more freedom part of the time – for her. And her new family were excited and prepared.

      Liked by 1 person


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