On his eleventh birthday, sophomore Noah Shields was given a chinchilla, Kirby, and he hasn’t looked back since. Shields got Kirby when he was only a few weeks old, and since then the two have been best of friends. Kirby has many unique talents that never fail to impress Shields. Some of these talents include jumping four times its height, crawling into small spaces (like under the stove) to take a dust bath, and having excellent hearing from his elephant-like ears. “He has a cage that is around four and a half feet tall, and he can jump from the bottom to the top of it,” Shields said.
When Shields was eleven years old, he first learned about having a pet chinchilla and was enticed by the quiet and unique squirrel-like rodents. “I really wanted one. At my old school a speaker came in and showed off pets. She had a chinchilla, and I wanted one,” Shields said.
Chinchillas differ from other pets in many ways––one being that they can’t get wet because of their soft fur, the only way for the animal to get clean is dust baths. “After letting him out once we found him under our oven rolling in dust,” Shields said.
One thing Shields would like future chinchilla owners to know is these pets require more attention than would be expected. “You have to give them a lot of attention or they forget who you are. I have to regularly play with him, so I play with him four to five times during a school week. He perches on my shoulder and crawls all over me,” Shields said.