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What Were You Thinking on ></a><a href=Bob Tarte, host of What Were You Thinking on

Bob Tarte
Exotic Pet Expert & Author

My Chinny, Chin, Chin

........Danny Boy

Linda Tarte.............................Danny Boy


Elaine Campbell talks to Linda about her pet chinchilla Danny Boy and explains that chins have a somewhat delicate constitution. She offers tips on keeping your chinchilla happy and healthy and also describes chin vocalizations. Danny Boy, in fact, is so vocally expressive, that Elaine is considering teaching him to ‘talk’ at the same time that she trains her Senegal parrot. She also tells Linda about a possum she befriended and details how she rescued him after he took a spill from her roof.

Questions or Comments? Email Bob at:


Bob Tarte: Hi. Welcome to What Were You Thinking. I’m Bob Tarte, author of Enslaved By Ducks and my latest book Fowl Weather, which I’m pleased to say was recently featured as an under the radar book choice on NPR’s morning edition by librarian Nancy Pearl, so I’m very happy about that. This week the subject of our show is chinchillas, and Linda is talking to Elaine Campbell who lives in Southern California and she’s going to tell us about her pet chinchilla Danny Boy after this potentially important word from a sponsor.

Linda Tarte: Hi Elaine.

Elaine Campbell: Hi Linda.

Linda Tarte: Hi. I’ve been looking forward to hearing about chinchillas ‘cause I don’t know hardly anything about them. I always thought they might be fun to have, but I’ve never had a friend that had one or anything.

Elaine Campbell: They’re absolutely wonderful.

Linda Tarte: So how long have you had your, you one or more than one?

Elaine Campbell: I’ve had three, but this is my third one and I’ve had him five years.

Linda Tarte: Oh, okay.

Elaine Campbell: I’m doing better because as you know beginners make beginners mistakes.

Linda Tarte: Oh, that’s it. Now where, did you get him from a pet store or where?

Elaine Campbell: Yes, we have one pet store here in the desert who sells chinchillas. They go on sale when they’re about a year old.

Linda Tarte: Oh, when they’re about a year old?

Elaine Campbell: Yes, yeah.

Linda Tarte: And, do they look kind of like, describe what they look like.

Elaine Campbell: They’re rectangular in shape. They actually remind me of just cuddly little teddy bears.

Linda Tarte: They don’t look like rabbits kind of with small ears or not?

Elaine Campbell: They have fairly small ears, and let me see, they have a round nose…

Linda Tarte: Yeah.

Elaine Campbell: and, gee, it’s hard to…

Linda Tarte: What color are they?

Elaine Campbell: Oh they’re, the only, they’re many colors but they’re only a color that has been developed to breeding, is what’s called a standard gray. Actually it’s a very beautiful blue/gray.

Linda Tarte: Oh.

Elaine Campbell: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: So, I didn’t know that. For some reason I thought they were brown, but…

Elaine Campbell: Oh well they do have other colors, but as I said, this is the only natural color.

Linda Tarte: Now Bob tells me that you said your chinchilla has this kind of voice that almost sounds like talking.

Elaine Campbell: Oh yes. They have a tremendous variety of sounds and range.

Linda Tarte: What do they say, I mean what kind of sounds do they make?

Elaine Campbell: Very, very close to human speech.

Linda Tarte: Really?

Elaine Campbell: Oh yes. And as I said, I’ve read in I think one of these magazines like something called Critters, where someone actually did teach her chinchilla to talk. However, Ingrid Larson, who has the greatest website there is in existence for chin owners called, she said she’s never heard of such a thing and she’s quite an expert.

Linda Tarte: Well…

Elaine Campbell: I decided what I’m going to do, I’m going to test it, I give my parrot lessons about fifteen minutes before bedtime. I’m going to invite my chin Danny Boy to join us. I’m going to keep this up for about six months and then we will know definitively.

Linda Tarte: That’s right, and you can send a tape to that lady to say, “Yes, see, see he does talk?” What kind of, what’s like a couple of sounds that they would make, like a squealy sound, or…?

Elaine Campbell: They make certain sounds when they’re babies, which of course I’ve never heard because I haven’t had one that’s a baby. One is a pleasure sound.

Linda Tarte: Uh huh.

Elaine Campbell: One is a dreaming sound.

Linda Tarte: Uh huh.

Elaine Campbell: And then the one that I get, because Danny’s five now, is they have periods, I would almost call it existential anxiety. It’s a combination I feel of loneliness and anxiety, maybe a feeling of isolation, and they will make a sound that’s kind of a loud hooting like that of an owl but a bit of screeching involved too.

Linda Tarte: Really? And would they…

Elaine Campbell: It’s the cotto, and it’s over and over again. And usually I will go to its cage and of course that will calm him immediately, but if I’m in deep sleep, because he sleeps in the master bedroom on the table too…

Linda Tarte: Oh.

Elaine Campbell: I’m just not able to run over to him, what I do is I begin immediately on queue to sing Rock-a-Bye Baby.

Linda Tarte: Would he do it more in the evening or, like in the evening or in the morning? Have you ever noticed?

Elaine Campbell: Often in the middle of the night.

Linda Tarte: Middle of the night.

Elaine Campbell: Occasionally during the day.

Linda Tarte: I wonder if he does it when he wants out of his cage.

Elaine Campbell: I, no, I don’t think he wants out, I think he just feels alone, like…

Linda Tarte: He’s just feeling lonely.

Elaine Campbell: he’s been, yes I think it is lonely more.

Linda Tarte: You think that’s why wolves howl like that, you know, when they howl at the moon, do you think that’s like loneliness or just a bonding thing with the…?

Elaine Campbell: Very interesting question.

Linda Tarte: I’m not, I don’t really know but, how long do the chinchillas live, how many, approximately, how long would they live?

Elaine Campbell: Oh, the life span is supposedly between fifteen and twenty years.

Linda Tarte: That many years.

Elaine Campbell: You have to take very, very good care of they, they’re very, very fragile.

Linda Tarte: Oh my. Now what do they eat? Tell us what the typical diet of he chinchilla would be.

Elaine Campbell: Well, I have a schedule made up and I can tell you, first of all, they’re on a hay based pellet…

Linda Tarte: Mm hmm.

Elaine Campbell: Again Any quality product you’re going to find there. If you just buy stuff for them in the pet store you’re not going to get the best.

Linda Tarte: Really?

Elaine Campbell: No, not at all.

Linda Tarte: It’s not enough protein or just not fresh enough or what?

Elaine Campbell: It’s just not quality in every way you could name it, most of it’s not.

Linda Tarte: Do you order it off of internet?

Elaine Campbell: I certainly do.

Linda Tarte: Okay.

Elaine Campbell: Okay, well we alternate, besides the pellet has shredded wheat…

Linda Tarte: Mm hmm.

Elaine Campbell: And the next night he’ll have an oat blend…

Linda Tarte: Oat what?

Elaine Campbell: Oat, rolled oats.

Linda Tarte: Like what you’d make oatmeal with?

Elaine Campbell: Yeah, but this is a special, again, a special blend because it also has groats in it.

Linda Tarte: Oh, okay. That would have good protein pellet.

Elaine Campbell: Roath hips.

Linda Tarte: Really, for vitamin C?

Elaine Campbell: Right. They love a horse cookie, which he gets once a week. And they love dried apple. I’ve only had one chin who would eat fresh fruit. So that dried apple is a real treat.

Linda Tarte: How ‘bout greens?

Elaine Campbell: No, you’re not supposed to give them greens, that’s not a good thing, no.

Linda Tarte: Okay, okay.

Elaine Campbell: They only…

Linda Tarte: Are they prone towards digestive problems? Like my rabbit and some of our rabbits, you have to be careful what you give them, they’ll get digestive, do they have two stomachs like a rabbit does?

Elaine Campbell: Well, you know, I don’t think they have two stomachs…

Linda Tarte: Okay.

Elaine Campbell: I know that they cannot, what is it, they cannot vomit, and that’s an odd thing.

Linda Tarte: Uh huh, I don’t think rabbits can either. Maybe I’m wrong on that. Maybe somebody out there can clarify that, but I don’t think rabbits can either.

Elaine Campbell: Now the crème de la crème for them is a raisin.

Linda Tarte: Really?

Elaine Campbell: They love raisins.

Linda Tarte: Wow! So you give them just very occasionally or maybe once a day?

Elaine Campbell: He gets one raisin a week because they are fattening.

Linda Tarte: Oh.

Elaine Campbell: He gets a half an almond once a week, of course organic and natural. And then they have to have a chew stick so their teeth don’t get overgrown.

Linda Tarte: Like any rodent.

Elaine Campbell: An apple tree stick is great.

Linda Tarte: Okay.

Elaine Campbell: You can get the wood blocks, that you can buy at pets stores.

Linda Tarte: Mm hmm.

Elaine Campbell: And then they have to have hay, a little hay every night, and that is Timothy hay and I usually add a little oat hay as well.

Linda Tarte: That’s what I give my rabbit is Timothy hay, that’s very good for them.

Elaine Campbell: And then they love spaghetti.

Linda Tarte: Spaghetti?

Elaine Campbell: Dried spaghetti I give him, lets see, twice a week, I give him pieces of spaghetti, each one about an inch and a quarter long and they love that spaghetti.

Linda Tarte: I would’ve never thought of it. Now where did you get the idea to give them that?

Elaine Campbell: Ingrid Larson. She and her husband Charles have a website,, and they know just about everything there is to know about chins.

Linda Tarte: Okay.

Elaine Campbell: It seems like chins are really their world, uh huh.

Linda Tarte: I’ll be darned, so they like a lot of different things.

Elaine Campbell: Oh yeah.

Linda Tarte: Now, like rabbits you’re not supposed to have in drafts or don’t feed them…

Elaine Campbell: Oh, that’s one way you can lose your chin real quickly.

Linda Tarte: Okay, so they’re like a rabbit like that, you cannot put them on a draft.

Elaine Campbell: And if you have a room above 80 degrees they can go into heat stroke…

Linda Tarte: Oh, rabbits are like that too. Rabbits cannot have too much heat.

Elaine Campbell: Is that right?

Linda Tarte: Mm hmm. No. They would pant or they would just get sick, yup, mm hmm.

Elaine Campbell: Your first rabbit was Binky, right?

Linda Tarte: Mm hmm, yup, little Binky. He was a Dwarf Dutch.

Elaine Campbell: That’s right.

Linda Tarte: Now, Bob told me that you have a story about a opossum that got on the roof of your apartment building and then…

Elaine Campbell: Yes. I had and befriended a possum when I lived in the city of Pasadena California, I lived in an old historical house in an apartment. And the building was on a (unintelligible), and I realized that something was sitting underneath my apartment, one night I came out my back door, it was about four or five steps down and I saw the opossum sitting there, just looking at me very nonchalantly. Well we developed a friendship and we, we knew each other for about a year…

Linda Tarte: Oh, I didn’t know that, that you knew him beforehand.

Elaine Campbell: Oh yes, yeah, yeah, it was about a year and especially when I began giving him his nighttime meals, around eleven or twelve at night I’d put a dish of food out for him.

Linda Tarte: Oh, no wonder he hung around. Your little friend.

Elaine Campbell: Their favorite food is persimmons, they’re crazy about persimmons.

Linda Tarte: Persimmons? Is that something that grows in California, I take it?

Elaine Campbell: I don’t know where they grow, but we could find them in the market.

Linda Tarte: Uh huh. Well you spoil your critters, don’t you? You give them the best.

Elaine Campbell: Why not?

Linda Tarte: I know it. They like it, they like, why not?

Elaine Campbell: They like it and they’re worth it.

Linda Tarte: Oh yeah, well I, it’s the pleasure to see them happy like that.

Elaine Campbell: That’s the word for it.

Linda Tarte: So now how did he get, I understand they got, how did he get on the roof of your building?

Elaine Campbell: Well they’re very, they’re very inquisitive, just like chinchillas are. I have not idea how he got there.

Linda Tarte: Because I’ve never heard of opossum’s climbing. Have you?

Elaine Campbell: He got up there. He got up there. About midnight I heard this terrible crash in the back and across the hallway from me lived my landlord and his wife who retire early, but I knew that was going to wake them up.

Linda Tarte: Oh my goodness.

Elaine Campbell: And they would not have taken too kindly to an opossum in their yard. I knew that very well.

Linda Tarte: I’m glad you stay up late and that you were able to take care. So what did, what’d you…

Elaine Campbell: Well I glanced out and there he was on the ground a little bit dazed, and I thought, “Well I’ve got to get him out of here ‘cause he’ll get discovered”, so I picked him up and I carried him through my apartment out into the front yard…

Linda Tarte: Did he try to nip you?

Elaine Campbell: Not at all. In fact, I think he was very relieved and grateful.

Linda Tarte: To get out of there.

Elaine Campbell: Very, very sweet. I put him in the front yard where I knew he wouldn’t be discovered and the next night he was sitting there waiting for his food, so…

Linda Tarte: Oh, no harm done. Let me ask you a question, is there trellis on the side of your apartment building that he could’ve climbed?

Elaine Campbell: There was a stairway to the upper floor, which was two stories, but how he actually got onto the roof, I do not know.

Linda Tarte: That is so goofy, isn’t it? I’m so glad he’s okay. My other question is, is, do you ever see him anymore? Or was this years ago?

Elaine Campbell: I moved to the desert.

Linda Tarte: Oh okay, this was before you moved.

Elaine Campbell: That’s before I, he came with the, after, when it became springtime, he came, he had found a mate and he brought his mate over and…

Linda Tarte: Really?

Elaine Campbell: Well they also got seedless green grapes, hard-boiled eggs, of course no shell and quartered please.

Linda Tarte: Oh.

Elaine Campbell: And on holidays we would have baked chicken, which they absolutely loved.

Linda Tarte: Oh yeah.

Elaine Campbell: So he brought a mate and…

Linda Tarte: He brought the mate over, probably to show you because you were nice to him and he was proud…

Elaine Campbell: Yeah. And one night I went out and there they, he and his mate were about six yards away and there was a little tiny baby possum in the food dish. I mean so tiny, just extremely tiny and, oh my goodness, it’s on the second step, I was afraid it would fall out…

Linda Tarte: Oh my gosh.

Elaine Campbell: I’m just going to let them take care of this, you know?

Linda Tarte: Oh my goodness.

Elaine Campbell: I went back in and they did. He was gone within half an hour.

Linda Tarte: He was gone?

Elaine Campbell: And I never saw the baby again.

Linda Tarte: He, they, but did you see the adults again?

Elaine Campbell: I did, but at the end of, beginning of summer the following year they disappeared, and I understand from my reading that they are nomadic, and even though they were getting the best of nips and everything I think they had a need to move on.

Linda Tarte: Uh huh, and they only live a couple years actually in most places, so they don’t live a real long time. Maybe the baby was in the pouch ‘cause I think they carry, or do they carry them on their back, I can’t remember? That’s kangaroos.

Elaine Campbell: They’re marsupial. They’re marsupial.

Linda Tarte: They would’ve carried them, don’t they carry them in a pouch?

Elaine Campbell: Yes.

Linda Tarte: Yeah, yeah, they are like a kangaroo, so you probably just didn’t see it ‘cause it was inside the pouch. So, yup.

Elaine Campbell: That’s a possibility.

Linda Tarte: Yeah. So, this, now this is your third chinchilla. What, I forgot to ask, it’s a boy right?

Elaine Campbell: Yes, his name is Danny Boy after the Irish song.

Linda Tarte: Danny Boy, awww. Now do you let him out to walk around like the living room or the dining room or anything?

Elaine Campbell: Because I have cats and dogs I let him out in a controlled environment.

Linda Tarte: Oh, I don’t blame you.

Elaine Campbell: A large bathroom which is carpeted and then there’s an enormous shower with ledges, and the chins are wonderful jumpers, they can jump up to five feet.

Linda Tarte: Oh my!

Elaine Campbell: And they love to bounce off walls.

Linda Tarte: You mean they kind of run up to it and bounce off of it?

Elaine Campbell: They run up, they leap and they bounce off of the height of what they’ve, what they hit. It’s not, they don’t hit it low…

Linda Tarte: Yeah?

Elaine Campbell: They hit it after they’ve leapt and they come on down.

Linda Tarte: Oh funny. They do it, you think they do it for like entertainment or just ‘cause they feel good?

Elaine Campbell: Oh it’s just wonderful fun.

Linda Tarte: They like to do that.

Elaine Campbell: Oh yeah.

Linda Tarte: Oh funny.

Bob Tarte: We’ll be right back with Elaine Campbell to hear more about chinchillas after this potentially important word from a sponsor.

Bob Tarte: Hi, I’m Bob Tarte. Welcome back to What Were You Thinking and now we return to Linda’s phone conversation with Elaine Campbell.

Linda Tarte: So, but he sleeps in your bedroom you said, his cage is in the bedroom?

Elaine Campbell: His cage, and in his cage he has a very large wheel. It’s stainless steel. I found the wire wheels are quite dangerous for them, although many companies do sell them for chinchillas, but I would tell anyone to avoid them.

Linda Tarte: And it’s a wheel made with what then?

Elaine Campbell: A stainless steel.

Linda Tarte: It’s stainless steel.

Elaine Campbell: You need a solid wheel, uh huh.

Linda Tarte: Oh, a solid one, okay. ‘Cause they could get their little feet caught in it or something?

Elaine Campbell: Oh yes, I had, my second chin lost his toes of one foot on a wheel, and I had my first chin on that wheel for five years and there was no accidents or anything…

Linda Tarte: Oh God.

Elaine Campbell: But he managed, he did keep his footpads, so there was no problem at all in locomotion, he didn’t, he didn’t experience any pain.

Linda Tarte: No. Well, how would, now would you describe, I know all animals differ in personality, but would you think there was very much difference between the, did you notice a difference in personality between each of the three that you’ve had?

Elaine Campbell: They’re very, very different.

Linda Tarte: Really?

Elaine Campbell: Oh, I’d say my first chin was very hardy and he was quite an extrovert and he loved people, he loved visitors, he loved people.

Linda Tarte: Mm hmm.

Elaine Campbell: The second chin was quite the opposite. He was frail from the get go. He was more of an introvert, very gentle, quiet, almost, I felt very protective towards him because he was, seemed much more fragile.

Linda Tarte: Aww.

Elaine Campbell: And third, Danny Boy whom I have. Now he’s kind of in between, he’s like an ambevert. He’s very pensive, he’s like a pensive chin, so they’re very intelligent, and their hearing is as acute as, almost as a human beings, they hear everything, listen very, very closely to all sounds. He’s, I would say he’s between fragile and hardy, he’s fragile but he’s not real…

Linda Tarte: Well…

Elaine Campbell: He has that power of endurance. I think he may, I may be able to hold onto him for quite a while.

Linda Tarte: Oh, I’m glad.

Elaine Campbell: Also I’ve learned it’s awfully important to give them the petramalt that’s made for rabbits.

Linda Tarte: What’s it called?

Elaine Campbell: Petramalt.

Linda Tarte: What is it?

Elaine Campbell: It’s made for, they have petramalt for cats. It’s something that they, he licks it right in tube and it’s to get rid of hairballs.

Linda Tarte: Oh, okay, hairballs, yes. You have to worry about that with rabbits too.

Elaine Campbell: Yeah because they groom themselves.

Linda Tarte: And cats. And I’ve had trouble with hairballs and rabbits before.

Elaine Campbell: Have you really?

Linda Tarte: Oh, yes. What, there’re certain rabbits, my New Zealand rabbit, Freda, that’s just, that’s a terrible problem. They groom their self, their fur slops off all the time. Now does the chinchillas shed quite a bit?

Elaine Campbell: No, they groom themselves. But I have to, I do groom them, there’s a whole procedure that you go through about once every three months, some special tools for them and it takes about 20 minutes, and that’s one thing he doesn’t particularly take to. However, when I’m finished grooming him he’s just, you’d think he’d just been to the beauty parlor…

Linda Tarte: Oh my, really splendid. So you don’t have to, ‘cause like my rabbit, I brush him every night, but you just, you wouldn’t have to do that with this kind of animal.

Elaine Campbell: No, once every three months is what I do…

Linda Tarte: At a time where, do they molt or, you know, is there just a certain time when they shed and that’s when you do it?

Elaine Campbell: I personally have not seen any shedding, but…

Linda Tarte: Oh, that’s nice.

Elaine Campbell: But when you groom them, the point of the grooming is that their hair actually, their fur actually dies, they want take up dead hair…

Linda Tarte: Mm hmm, mm hmm.

Elaine Campbell: And leave the new hair. They also have to have dust baths twice a week, that’s very important.

Linda Tarte: Where would they get that, you just take them outside and to, you know…

Elaine Campbell: No, it’s in a special plastic house that you get in a pet store. And then from Chin World I send for this special very, very fine sand and you just put it in the cage and they just run right to it, go into the house and start trimming, somersaults and sideways…

Linda Tarte: Oh my goodness.

Elaine Campbell: they’ll go right into a full turn and then the left, then they’ll do a full turn…

Linda Tarte: Oh my goodness.

Elaine Campbell: I understand they’ll even let you know if they want to take a bath because they’ll just do a somersault in their cage.

Linda Tarte: Oh, trying to tell you.

Elaine Campbell: They tell you.

Linda Tarte: And what do you think the purpose of that is to, I know like with chickens it’s because they’re trying to, you know, to keep mites down and so on and so forth, but with a chinchilla I don’t know.

Elaine Campbell: This is what they did, they do in their natural habitat, which is the Andes, and the reason that they do that is because to get the moisture out of their coat…

Linda Tarte: Oh.

Elaine Campbell: That’s actually what the ultimate purpose of it is.

Linda Tarte: Oh, okay, ‘cause it probably, in the evenings or whatever it gets dampish and they’re, instead of shaking they kind of roll it, roll it or something off. I’ll be darned.

Elaine Campbell: In the Andes their coats get matted by sabatious fluids, and so they keep their, this is one reason, oh, that they secrete to keep the skin from getting too dry…

Linda Tarte: Uh huh.

Elaine Campbell: So then taking this dust bath in the volcanic ash gets rid of the fluids.

Linda Tarte: Oh, and this is fluid that they excrete from their skin.

Elaine Campbell: Yeah, in the Andes. Now he doesn’t secrete any fluids here.

Linda Tarte: Right, but they have sort of a genetic thing to do that probably.

Elaine Campbell: Yeah, they do, it’s just the whole pattern is ingrained.

Linda Tarte: The whole what? The pattern.

Elaine Campbell: The pattern of the…

Linda Tarte: Right, the behavior.

Elaine Campbell: The behavior, right.

Linda Tarte: Well, it just, you must like them if you had three of them, that’s something that you just think they’re nice.

Elaine Campbell: Oh, they’re not just nice to me, they’re charming, they’re very, very sweet.

Linda Tarte: Can you hold them?

Elaine Campbell: They don’t like to be held too much, but that’s, if I take them, carry them, you carry them close to your chest so they feel secure.

Linda Tarte: Uh huh. And you can pet them.

Elaine Campbell: Not petting per se, but they like to be scratched behind the ears…

Linda Tarte: Aww.

Elaine Campbell: And back of the neck. And I studied at one time Swedish massage, so I use that technique on the brow, I go from their front to the back and press firmly, and he likes that very much.

Linda Tarte: Wow!

Elaine Campbell: But to actually chuck him over his entire body, I think I would have a leaping running chinchilla.

Linda Tarte: He’d get agitated.

Elaine Campbell: I don’t think he would take to it.

Linda Tarte: They sound like they’re a charming little pet. What do you rather, what else do you think, you got a, did you say a dog and what else?

Elaine Campbell: Oh, I have a couple dogs, a couple cats…

Linda Tarte: Do they ever go in there and look at him.

Elaine Campbell: a Senegal parrot. At first when I first got him they were quite curious, but now they pretty much ignore him, yeah.

Linda Tarte: How about, and the parrot, the parrot’s probably not anywhere near where he is, so…

Elaine Campbell: The parrot’s down in the guest bedroom on the other side of the house, but as I said, they’re going to meet shortly when they have joint talking lessons.

Linda Tarte: Don’t, that’s right.

Elaine Campbell: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: Oh, I would love to hear the sounds they make, you’ll have to send us a tape of the sounds that he makes. I would like to hear it.

Elaine Campbell: I’ll be glad to do that.

Linda Tarte: And you say they make several sounds and more you said certain times of day, well no, that’s that one sound he makes in the middle in the night, but the other sounds it makes it makes at certain times of the day or just when it’s trying to talk to you, or…?

Elaine Campbell: The only sound that he makes now is the sound of alarm. Now I have heard them make a cooking sound when I had, for a short time I had two in adjacent cages and they would make a cooking sound to one another.

Linda Tarte: So a little communication.

Elaine Campbell: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: So you, so you had two at a time, the other two you had…

Elaine Campbell: Very, very short, a very, very, not very long…

Linda Tarte: Uh huh.

Elaine Campbell: because the second one found a home.

Linda Tarte: Mm hmm.

Elaine Campbell: She wasn’t with me very long.

Linda Tarte: Well, you sound like a wonderful pet owner. You just are so careful and want to give them just the best possible life and feed them the most wonderful foods and your very cautious and careful with your pets, I can tell.

Elaine Campbell: I do my best, but you know, you never should feel like you know enough.

Linda Tarte: Doesn’t it always seem like that? It does.

Elaine Campbell: I know, it’s frustrating because, you know, you’re…

Linda Tarte: It’s always some new little thing you find out about pets it seems like.

Elaine Campbell: It never ends, and oh my goodness, I should’ve been doing this.

Linda Tarte: Yeah, like I didn’t know this about them.

Elaine Campbell: That’s right.

Linda Tarte: So they like kind of a warm room generally, it would be warm out in California all the time so, but you probably, you don’t want it to be too warm, so like around…

Elaine Campbell: You can’t go above 80 because they could go into heat stroke, I keep it on, I need warmth, I keep it around 77.

Linda Tarte: Oh.

Elaine Campbell: Uh huh, uh huh.

Linda Tarte: Well that’s pretty warm.

Elaine Campbell: Well for you it would be but…

Linda Tarte: You like to be warm.

Elaine Campbell: Uh huh.

Linda Tarte: So you don’t have the air conditioning in his room.

Elaine Campbell: Oh yeah, yeah, you have to have it here in the summer because we go up to 100.

Linda Tarte: Oh, that’s right, it gets 110 in California.

Elaine Campbell: It’s dry, it’s a dry heat because we’re in the desert.

Linda Tarte: Yes. Well, he was lucky to find you, lets put it that way, and…

Elaine Campbell: And I was lucky to find him.

Linda Tarte: Uh huh. Well I hope people out there will consider getting a chinchilla. They sound like a nice little pet.

Elaine Campbell: They are, but be very careful because they’re very fragile.

Linda Tarte: Well there’s a lot of animals like that, so the type of person that should get a chinchilla should be a type of person who’s very careful and cautious about things and sort of, and notices everything and does everything they should do with them.

Elaine Campbell: And brush up on how to care for them before you get one.

Linda Tarte: That’s a good idea. Read a book on it or, say again the name of the book that you’d said, the lady, or was it a website?

Elaine Campbell: Oh, that’s and it’s a wonderful site, anything you could possibly want for your chin, it even has CD’s on how to groom a chin and they’re just a delight to watch.

Linda Tarte: Well, I think that’s very good advice to study up on it before, if you do decide to get one to study up so that you can do everything right and that they’ll live a long happy life.

Elaine Campbell: Another problem is that pet stores will sometimes give you advice and that they really don’t know what they’re talking about.

Linda Tarte: I think you’re right.

Elaine Campbell: They told me to keep my first chin in an aquarium and that was very bad advice.

Linda Tarte: In an aquarium?

Elaine Campbell: Yes, and he just panicked and, oh my goodness, so finally I very quickly figured out, you know, what to do.

Linda Tarte: You know, when you get bad, this is just something in general people I think should do, if they get bad advice from a pet store…

Elaine Campbell: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: or anything, go back there to the people and, you know, and very nicely say to them, “I have found out that what you said is not true about, you know, whatever”, because otherwise other people may end up with pets that are very, very unhappy, you know what I mean? If you don’t tell them they don’t know.

Elaine Campbell: And for goodness sakes I know, my housekeeper was telling me she and her husband bought two, they put them in the trunk of their car to drive them to their home.

Linda Tarte: Oh my!

Elaine Campbell: Well, that was it. You know, they’re frightened very easily.

Linda Tarte: Oh, they would be terrified of that.

Elaine Campbell: Terrified to that.

Linda Tarte: Yup. You don’t do that.

Elaine Campbell: You have to be awfully careful even just how you get them home.

Linda Tarte: Uh huh. So be very, just remember, always remember how they’re very fragile animals and…

Elaine Campbell: Get them right in the home, don’t let them sit outside for any period…

Linda Tarte: No, no.

Elaine Campbell: you get a draft and then lose them, no.

Linda Tarte: Be just to, just…

Elaine Campbell: (unintelligible) everything.

Linda Tarte: Yup, treat them very carefully. Well thank you so much for talking to me about the chinchillas, they sound like, you sound like such a wonderful person and a wonderful pet owner, and I’d really love to hear the sounds they make, send us a tape of that some time.

Elaine Campbell: I certainly will.

Linda Tarte: I’d love that. Thanks so much for talking to us.

Bob Tarte: Thank you Linda. That was a very interesting interview, and thanks to Elaine Campbell for telling us all about her chinchilla Danny Boy. All that was new to me, the only thing I knew about chinchillas was that they are nocturnal. That wouldn’t really suit my lifestyle too well because I like to be in bed pretty early, so I got a lot to learn and maybe some other folks that have chinchillas might email me and they might end up on the show too. We always want to hear more about exotic pets. You can be a guest on What Were You Thinking, and it is the easiest thing in the world. All you have to do is send an email to and tell me a little bit about what kind of animal you have, especially tell me any interesting story you have about your animal. Maybe you have a pet dove or a pig or a lizard of some kind. You know, we, we’ll talk about any pet at all. So please email me, and if you do email me about your pet make sure and request to be on the show if that’s what you’d like to do. If you want to read about some interesting animals, meaning parrots, a dove, parakeet, ducks and geese, turkeys, of course let me recommend my two books Enslaved By Ducks and Fowl Weather. So that’s about it for this week. Thanks so much for listening to What Were You Thinking, and on behalf of Linda and on behalf of myself, Bob Tarte, who is right here now talking, I will say bye-bye.


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