We were up visiting our local pet store/adoption centre this morning for some much-needed kitten-patting, and I saw a curious sign on one of the cages. So naturally, I asked what the story was…
Apparently, the chinchilla had been in an enclosure with a bunch of other chinchillas, and he was being badly bullied. He was the lowest-ranking member of the pack (herd? flock?) hierarchy, and was getting injured regularly, so they separated him out into his own cage.
Chinchillas are social animals, though, and he didn’t do any better - he was physically safe, but emotionally a wreck. The keeper described him as ‘awfully sad,’ that ‘his ears were always drooping,’ and ‘he would just sit there, all balled up and lonely.’
In another cage, they had a pregnant female degu who needed some space away from the other degus. They’d already tried putting a couple of other animals in with the chinchilla - a baby mouse, and a baby guinea pig - but they were both terrified and wouldn’t go near him, so they had to be moved out.
The degu took one look, cozied up, and became his best friend. When her babies were born, they treated him like he was their father. The keeper says she bosses him around constantly, and he’s never been happier.
Now that the babies have been moved out, and they have their cage all to themselves, the degu and chinchilla are inseparable. The keeper described them as being ‘utterly in love,’ and the store will only sell them as a pair, so they can stay together.
Love is awesome.
(My apologies for the quality of some of the pictures; they were taken with my phone camera, without a flash, through glass.)