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WEEKEND: YOUR PETS: Chinchillas too nervous to be handled.

Byline: with PDSA vet Elaine Pendlebury

Q. I HAVE two chinchillas which are taking a long to time get used to me. After two months, they are still nervous about being handled. Both will come to me but don't like to be touched. I am leaving them with friends when we go on holiday. Can you suggest any way to introduce them to their carrying box?

A. CHINCHILLAS are usually very docile and easy to handle. They rarely bite. You should avoid rough handling, as the chinchilla might shed patches of fur, called "fur slip", as a result.

They can either be picked up with a hand around their shoulders or grasped by the tail base with one hand, using the other hand to support the chinchilla's body.

Avoid "swooping"on the chinchilla from a height, as your hand could be perceived as a predator. You can familiarise your chinchillas with their travelling cage by placing it in their cage to explore, with supervision from you. That way it might become impregnated with their scent, and not be thought of as a threat.

The travelling cage should be well ventilated, as chinchillas are susceptible to heat stroke. When you are travelling with them, talk to them to calm them, but do not open the box as they might make a run for it.

Q. MY fish has outgrown his aquarium. How do I transfer him to a new one?

A. TRANSFERRING a fish to a new aquarium has to be done very carefully as most diseases affecting fish have a very strong stress component.

Minimising stress is an integral part of disease prevention. In the larger tank you will probably need a new filter and heater, as the one in your old tank might not be adequate, so first set up the new tank three-quarters full of water.

Let the heater and filter run for 24 hours, and then test the pH and temperature in the new tank.

Using a clean, disposable cup, transfer the gravel from the old tank to the new tank, and transfer any decorations and rocks next.

When the temperature and acidity of the water match exactly, you can transfer your fish by using a disposable plastic cup (or similar disposable container, depending on the size of your fish) and a net.

Hold the container underwater and use the net to persuade your fish into it. Lay the net over the top of the container so your fish can't jump out, place the cup in the new tank and let your fish swim out.

Q. WHEN my dog developed a limp, my vet X-rayed him and said it had arthritis. The vet prescribed some medicine and restricted my dog's exercise. My dog now has become lethargic, and looks a lot older than his five years. What should I do?

A. THE best person to discuss your concerns with is the vet looking after your dog. It is important to make the vet aware of your dog's different symptoms. One way is to make a list and take it along when your dog is next examined.

I have always welcomed a client doing this, as it lets me gain a full picture of the problem. You might consider a referral to a specialist. Your vet can help you decide whether this would be a good idea. Check out the cost of the consultation before you commit yourself.

If you have a question for the vet write directly to: Elaine Pendlebury, PO Box 5987, Chelmsford.CM1 2GP.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jun 21, 2003

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