Evacuating With Chinchillas During A Natural Disaster

by Morgan Mulac

Evacuating With Your Chinchillas During A natural Disaster Image

The fact that many people around the world own chinchillas means that chinchillas can adapt to live in a variety of climates and geographical conditions. This can be a truly amazing thing, but it also means there are many different emergencies you could need to evacuate from with your chinchilla.

While we have some advice on traveling with your chinchilla, evacuating brings up a host of other considerations you will need to think about. Such as keeping your chinchilla(s) cool, dry, and stress-free in an uncertain environment, and figuring out if the place you’re evacuating to will accept chinchillas.

The General Guidelines

Can I Bring My Chinchilla To A Hotel?

This depends on the hotel. One common misconception is that the FEMA PETS act allows you to take any pet into a hotel and they’re required to accept you, which isn’t entirely true. Below is the exact phrasing of the PETS act.

Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 – Amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to require the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure that state and local emergency preparedness operational plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals before, during, and following a major disaster or emergency.

Authorizes the Director to (1) study and develop plans that take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals before, during, and following a major disaster or emergency; and (2) make financial contributions, based on programs or projects approved by the Director, to the states and local authorities for animal emergency preparedness purposes, including the procurement, construction, leasing, or renovating of emergency shelter facilities and materials that will accommodate people with pets and service animals.

Authorizes federal agencies to provide, assistance essential to meeting threats to life and property resulting from a major disaster, rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs to individuals with household pets and service animals and such pets and animals.

In more simple words, this only means that FEMA is required to take pet owners into account when creating disaster plans and funding for relief efforts, not that they are required to allow all pets in the case of an emergency. As such, when you’re looking for a place to stay, you still have to call ahead and make sure your chinchillas will be accepted by the hotel.

Grooming Chinchilla Image

It’s also vitally important to make sure your room has an adjustable air conditioning, which we will get into more later. Another consideration you need to make for any pet, but especially chinchillas, is taking a thorough look over the room before letting your chinchilla roam around the room if you choose to let them roam at all (which we don’t recommend you do).

Another consideration you need to have when keeping your chinchilla in a hotel room with you is making sure that wherever your chinchilla is, you can regulate the temperature easily. You could do this with either a granite tile known as a chin chiller or other cooling items like freezer packs wrapped up in fleece to prevent condensation.

Can I Bring My Chinchilla Around Other Animals?

Like many, you may have an option for shelter at a friend or family member’s apartment or house, which leaves open the question of safety for your chinchilla around any other animals in the house.

Cat In Chinchilla Cage Image

While there are considerations you need to be wary of - the good news is that most of the time, having a chinchilla in a home with other pets is no problem, especially when it’s a temporary setup like with evacuations. The only exception is making sure that your chinchilla stays a good distance away from any of the other animals to reduce additional stress and prevent passed-along infections or attacks if your chinchilla gets out of its cage.

Driving With A Chinchilla

You’ve determined where you’re going to evacuate to, now you need to get there. Traveling in a car with a chinchilla has many factors you need to be wary of, the most important of which being temperature.

While it makes for a chilly ride, it’s recommended to keep your car temperature at approximately 66º- 68º Fahrenheit and position your chinchilla away from any direct vents or sunlight coming into the car. That helps to prevent your chinchilla from experiencing any extreme temperature swings in any direction.

The other important part of car rides with your chinchilla is preventing as much stress as possible. This can be done by keeping your carrier on your lap and talking in a soothing voice to your chinchilla. Please do not drive with an animal on your lap, let the passenger hold it, or make sure the chinchilla is secure in the passenger seat.

Chinchilla Evacuation Checklist

Now that we’ve gone over where to go and how to get there, it’s time to talk about what you need to bring for your chinchillas. It’s recommended that you prep an emergency kit well in advance so you’re not packing with hours left to leave when you’re more liable to forget things.

Below, you’ll get a comprehensive list of what to bring, and why you should be bringing them, along with a checklist you can print and keep with your chinchilla supplies to reference regularly.

Evacuation Checklist Image

Digital Thermometer

Chinchilla On top Of Pilar Image

When you’re away from home with your chinchilla, it’s vitally important to keep a digital thermometer around. You may have a good idea of how to handle your home temperature and know if your chinchilla is comfortable by the feel of the room, but in a hotel, it’s harder to gauge the temperature. Having an easy-to-read digital thermometer takes the guesswork out of regulating the temperature in an unfamiliar environment.

Cooling Tile (Chin Chiller Is Recommended)

Next on your list of must-haves in your chinchilla emergency kit is a cooling tile. As you may know, cooling tiles are a great way to make sure your chinchilla isn’t getting overheated. Wrapping the tile up in fleece allows your chinchilla to be on the tile more freely without the worry of your chinchilla's feet getting too cold.

Travel Cage

Perhaps the most important of the bunch is a travel cage for your chinchillas. When you’re having to transport your chinchillas for any reason, a good travel cage is incredibly important. Since a car trip can already be a stressful experience for a chinchilla, having a travel cage where your chinchilla can hide out can make the experience better for everyone.

Chinchilla In A Cage Outside Image

It’s also incredibly important in the case of longer trips and evacuations that your cage has enough room to prevent your chinchilla from becoming restless or agitated due to not having enough room to move around. It’s also important to bring anti-pill fleece along as well for bedding and allowing your chinchilla to burrow.

It's important to note that a travel cage and a carrier are two different things. If you're traveling by car, we recommend using a carrier, leaving the travel cage to use in the hotel or shelter for more long-term usage.

Enough Food And Timothy Hay For At Least A Week + Food Bowls

Chinchilla Eating Image

No matter what you feed your chinchilla, keeping a week's worth of their food and a bottled water in your emergency kit will ensure that you will have enough time to get more in the event you’re evacuated for longer than anticipated. It’s also vital that if you need to buy additional food while evacuating that you buy the standard food you feed them, as changing your chinchilla's diet in an already stressful time could cause distress and upset their digestive system.

It’s also important to buy spares of your chinchilla’s food bowls and water bottles for cases like this. Having things in your chinchilla’s evacuation environment that is familiar makes the brief transition into an unfamiliar environment easier.

Favorite Chew Toys

Chinchilla Holding A Toy Image

Chinchilla's teeth never stop growing, which means it’s necessary to bring along chew toys in your chinchilla emergency kit. Many chinchillas have their favorite kinds of chew toys which can range from willow balls, stick bundles, pumice stones, and bamboo finger traps, and we’re sure you likely have your chin’s favorites stocked up!

Important Paperwork

Like any other pet, bring along any important vet information in your first aid bag - including but not limited to their vet records, proof of ownership, and permits to own your chinchilla if applicable to your state.

Chinchilla First Aid Kit

Chinchilla Looking Outside Of The Cage Door Image

While we have a full blog on how to kit out a first aid kit here with more information on each product, it’s worth mentioning the small list here of what to include in your first aid kit here:

Having these around in case your chinchilla gets hurt in the evacuation is incredibly important. You can also make two first aid kits and reserve one to remain in your “go-bag” so you don’t have to scramble to find the kit in an emergency evacuation.

How Do I Keep a Chinchilla Calm in an Emergency?

With such a heavy disruption to their environment, your chinchilla will inevitably experience some amount of stress during the evacuation, but there are things that you can do to make that transition easier.

Chinchilla Smelling A Hanging Toy Image

One of the best things you can do for your chinchilla is to keep their routine identical to the one they have at home: clean their travel cage at the same time as you would their home cage, keep feedings consistent with their normal routine, and let them play semi-frequently.

Playing calming music is one of the tips many owners recommend. If you look on YouTube, you will find a variety of playlists and channels that specialize in calming music for different pet species including chinchillas.

What To Do with Pets Long-Term

Chinchilla Standing On Wood Image

Hopefully, you’re not reading this section because you need it presently, but it’s always best to be prepared for the worst-case scenarios. If you cannot return home for several weeks or months, there are many different alternatives you can consider.

While costly, there may be some merit in finding a pet boarding facility that specializes in taking care of exotic animals long term. It may make you anxious to leave your beloved chin in someone else's hands, but if you have to stay in a hotel long term and don’t want to take any chances with housekeeping, this can often be the best option. Some pet boarding facilities allow for visits while your pet is there in cases like this, so it’s worth calling around to explore this option. Oftentimes, your exotic vet will have reliable suggestions for boarding, so reach out to them as well!

If you can’t find yourself able to part with your chinchilla long-term, many extended hotels allow you to do your housekeeping and only charge a small pet fee for any animals in the room.

The option of allowing your chinchilla to stay with relatives or friends long term is also always available. This will allow you the comfort of allowing your chinchilla to venture out of its cage in an environment that you know is safe. Click here for more information for a chinchilla sitter.

In Conclusion

While evacuations can be stressful for everyone involved, there are many things you can do for yourself and your furry friends to make getting out when catastrophe strikes easier. In addition to our grab-and-go list and first aid, you can also scan and send important documents about your chinchilla(s) to friends and family so they have copies of anything they may need to know.


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