Heal yourself with chinchillas

Chinchillarama

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time watching teenage girls on YouTube lecture me about chinchilla ownership, and I have a learned a lot. I’ve learned chinchillas eat hay, specifically Timothy hay, as though they are tiny misshapen horses. I’ve learned chinchilla well-being requires vertical play space. I’ve learned chinchillas need a supply of wooden toys and pumice stones to wear down their constantly growing, freakish teeth.

I have a lot of time to watch chinchilla advisory videos because, since I’ve been sick, I’ve had to stop doing most things. I had to quit stand-up comedy, because I was going to bed at 7pm. I had to quit drinking, because it makes me much sicker. I had to quit exercising, because it also somehow makes me much sicker. I had to quit the speaking club I’d been part of for five years. I had to quit going to all non-essential places, because going places is the worst.

I didn’t have to quit my job, but I work so few hours now that when my pay comes into my account, a bank employee calls to laugh at me.

My life has become an abhorrent vacuum, which I’ve been trying to fill by watching all 426 episodes of Law & Order SVU. But eventually even that will run out. Since the fatigue specialists told me I could incorporate pet-patting into my recovery program, I’ve been angling for a pet.

My husband and I have both wanted a dog for years. But we’re renters. We approached our landlordess about getting a dog, but we forgot that where we live isn’t a home, it’s an investment property. And even though we’ve lived here six years and proved ourselves to be mature, conscientious adults who could reasonably be expected to take good care of a dog in an apartment, no.

A friend suggested I get a cat, because they’re easier to care for than dogs. But I doubt any cat will permit the strict patting routine my recovery program requires. So I began to research the pros and cons of getting several chinchillas.

Pros

  • A single chinchilla can achieve the cuteness of level of approximately eight kittens, scientifically speaking.
  • Possible names: Mustard, Popcorn, Pretzel, Son of Coco.
  • We’re not allowed pets in our apartment, but as chinchillas are closer to animated stuffed toys, this doesn’t apply.
  • Instagram celebrity potential = high, especially if Pretzel acquires a wardrobe of Batman-themed costumes.

Cons

  • Like gremlins, chinchillas shouldn’t get wet. They don’t turn into mauradering monsters named Stripe, but they do go mouldy. Even the oil from your hands can muck up your chinchilla’s delicate fur. To keep dry and clean, your chinchilla needs to roll around in a special plastic container filled with special chinchilla dust, such as the actual product All Living Things Blue Cloud Dust. In the words of Autumn Windish, my favourite YouTube chinchilla expert, “No one wants a mouldy chin.”
  • According to Autumn Windish (I will be very disappointed if that’s not her real name), chinchillas need much more than just a vertical cage, Timothy hay, blue cloud dust, wooden toys and pumice stones. They also need a hay dispenser, water bottles and a litter box. They need a product called a chin-chiller, a granite slab for preventing your thick-furred chinchilla from overheating, which you can purchase in packs of four. They need something called kebabs, which Autumn Windish describes as ‘self-explanatory’. But here I have to disagree with Autumn – it is not at all self-explanatory why chinchillas need kebabs.

The overriding con is that my husband has a strict anti-chinchilla policy. He claims that, contrary to my doctor’s advice, having a chinchilla is not essential to my recovery.

He is not the person home sick and alone all day, however. Nor do I think he is fully aware of just how easy it is these days to order pretty much anything online from a pet supply store and have it delivered straight to your door. Besides, once he sees Pretzel and Popcorn on their respective granite chin-chillers, he’s sure to change his mind.