Requiem for a Chinchilla

DeAnne and I wanted pets that were apartment friendly during our first year of marriage. I forget who suggested it, but we settled on chinchillas. After a bit of research, we discovered a chinchilla breeder who lived a few towns over from us. We decided to get two of the cute, little fuzzballs because we read somewhere that they enjoy being in pairs much more than being alone.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with chinchillas, here’s a brief description: Imagine an animal with a face like a large mouse and a tail like a squirrel, about the size of a guinea pig, with hair as soft as dreams, and it jumps like a kangaroo. They can live as long as a dog (but they eat a lot less). They’re nocturnal (so I wouldn’t suggest having them in your bedroom, as we did for a brief time). And if you treat them well, they are as docile as a kitten.

They’re good pets.

We met the chinchilla breeder and drove off with two chinchillas, a black one we named Reed and a grey one we named Alex. And though we didn’t know it at the time, we had picked out a male and a female. Thankfully, we never had to deal with chinchilla babies because they never got on in that way (only about 1/3 of chinchillas breed).

Reed and Alex were with us when we moved out of our apartment and into a home. They saw us get a hamster (Bigfoot) and a dog (Cole). They were around for the loss of one child and the births of two more.

But now, there’s just Reed. Alex has gone to Chinchilla Heaven.

We had a mini-memorial last night. It was a way for us to say goodbye, to try to help our two-year-old daughter understand that she wouldn’t see Alex anymore. That he was gone.

“He’s gone?” she would ask.

“Yup,” I said. “Alex is gone. He’s in Chinchilla Heaven now.”

“He disappeared?” she asked.

“No,” I said, grasping. “His body is here, but he’s in Chinchilla Heaven now. You know how sometimes your toys’ batteries die? Well, Alex’s batteries died and we don’t have a good way to recharge or replace them. He’s gone.”

“He’ll be back tomorrow at six o’clock,” she said.

I don’t know where she got that, and I hope for everyone’s sake that it isn’t true.

“Nope, he’s gone. We just said goodbye. He won’t be coming back.”

And with that, Alex is gone. He’s in chinchilla heaven. He was a great pet, and I feel bad that he’s gone. Mostly for Reed, though they never mated, they were close.

Anyway, goodbye Alex.

Chinchilla

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4 responses to “Requiem for a Chinchilla

  1. I’m sorry for your loss. You know, maybe your daughter knows what time the rapture will take place. Is there a Chinchilla rapture?

    • If there is, I fear that Reed has been left behind. Perhaps there is hope of her salvation if she doesn’t take the mark of the squirrel and dies as a chinchilla martyr.

    • Perhaps even more startling is the fact that DeAnne and I had no idea when we got them that we’d gotten a male and a female. Chinchillas keep their fun parts on the inside in a very puritanical way until they are needed. Perhaps that’s why it is difficult for them to mate. So many of them are confused about each other and they don’t want to risk hitting on someone of the wrong gender.

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