Chinchilla Chateau

Chinchilla Chateau: California’s Quality Chinchilla Breeder

A true story about a veteran breeder of chinchillas who is doing good in California as "California's Quality Chinchilla Breeder".


Sumiko De La Vega
@chinchillachateau

When you hear the word chateau, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s a manor nestled in the French countryside that’s home to a richly-robed lord who drinks wine with an assortment of fragrant cheese. Or perhaps it’s a quiet senior living community where retirees play pinochle on Tuesdays. If you know a thing or two about chinchillas, however, you might conjure up the image of a converted room in Manteca, California, filled with runs and colony caging for chinchilla breeding: the Chinchilla Chateau.


The story behind California's Chinchilla Chateau

“Chinchilla Chateau is a hobby that started from me wanting to own a pet chinchilla,” said Sumiko De La Vega, owner of Chinchilla Chateau. “The more I learned about chinchillas, the more I wanted to take the steps to become a responsible breeder.”

Sumiko’s business is focused on breeding chinchillas for show, but she also has chinchillas available to purchase as pets and takes in rescues or surrenders if the chateau’s capacity allows. She’s housed between 50-60 chinchillas at a time, but there’s one special chin that started it all.  

“I was working at a pet store where I got to interact with chinchillas on a daily basis for the first time,” said Sumiko. “That’s where I had the opportunity to purchase Gizmo, a white mosaic chinchilla. Gizmo passed away a few years ago and now I have core breeders, but Gizmo was the one I was really attached to.”

With Gizmo by her side, Sumiko dove head first into the world of pedigree chinchillas, constantly searching for sought-after breeding qualities. In 2006, she purchased her first breeding pair.

“My goal is always to improve the species,” said Sumiko. “I only breed chinchillas that have characteristics of a healthy, quality animal with no known maladies.”

Sumiko explains that as a responsible breeder, she focuses on chinchilla size, conformation, veiling color and tips, and fur density, strength, and texture. She emphasizes that responsible breeders are also members of breeding organizations like the Empress Chinchilla Breeders Cooperative or the Mutation Chinchilla Breeders Association.

“These organizations have educational newsletters, host educational seminars for members and put on workshops to teach new breeders how to show and what qualities to look for,” said Sumiko. “Being part of a breeder organization connects you to a lot of knowledge and experience.”

As a veteran breeder with dozens of chinchillas in her care, Sumiko encourages those considering a chinchilla as a pet to take stock of their home and ensure the environment is chinchilla-ready.

“They shouldn’t interact with other pets,” she said. “People occasionally want to have their cats, dogs or rabbits play with them, but it’s really not safe. Chinchillas are very fragile and other animals could easily and accidentally injure them.”

A chinchilla’s fragile nature extends from its thin ribs to its delicate digestive system. In fact, most toys and exercise options sold in pet stores are unsafe for chinchillas because they are an inappropriate size or made of materials that aren’t truly chew-proof.

“There are very few options out there if you want to do it right, but one of them is the Chin Spin Chinchilla Exercise Wheel,” Sumiko explains. “It’s metal and has a nice wide surface. It’s a large enough diameter that it doesn’t cause the chinchilla’s spine to become fractured. The ones I’ve owned have lasted for years and years.”

Taking Sumiko’s advice is probably in the best interest of any chinchilla owner. Afterall, this is a woman who has bred chinchillas for more than 13 years, traveled across the country to compete in shows, and has even safely transported chinchillas over 1,800 miles by car in a single trip.

Yes, chateaus are home to high-class Frenchmen and afternoon card players, but the Chinchilla Chateau is a whole new breed.


If you're in need of the best wheel for Chinchillas, we make it!



“There are very few options out there if you want to do it right, but one of them is the Chin Spin Chinchilla Exercise Wheel,” Sumiko explains. “It’s metal and has a nice wide surface. It’s a large enough diameter that it doesn’t cause the chinchilla’s spine to become fractured. The ones I’ve owned have lasted for years and years.”

— Sumiko, founder of Chinchilla Chateau



About the Author


Taylor Walker is a freelance copywriter and product photographer based in Boise, Idaho. She has spent her career working in the marketing departments of state agencies, Fortune 10 companies and small businesses. Now, as a photojournalist in the public affairs department of the United States Air Force, Taylor continues to hone her craft while managing her business, What to When Media.



Leave a comment

x