chinchillin’ with Annabelle the Chinchilla

On a lunch break back in November, Adam came across a chinchilla who was having “chinchilla depression” at a local Petsmart. She was visibly depressed with her head hanging down in her cage, eyes open, staring into space. She hadn’t moved from the spot she was in for his entire lunch break (he ended up staying there with her for the whole hour), and when he left and returned later that evening after work to check on her, she was still there in the same spot in her container, in the very same position. She hadn’t moved at all. Heartbroken to see an animal this way, he found out that she had been at this pet store for two years, her ENTIRE life. She hadn’t known anything other than this small little glass box (with a pitiful set-up) that she’d always lived in…this was always her life. Adam and I decided that we would take her out of there immediately to see what we could do. We purchased her (with the help of a friend) to try to see if we could find her a home ourselves. We NEVER support purchasing animals from pet stores, however we felt that she really needed to and DESERVED to get out of there. We didn’t know the first thing about chinchillas, but that’s what we did.

We tried for a while to find her a home, but chinchillas are “exotic” pets with a few special needs. As I began to study more about them, I realized that I couldn’t just give her away without making sure she’d have the proper owners and living situation. We had originally started by advertising her as a free chinchilla to a good, loving home… however I was getting way too many inquiries about her (people on Craigslist saw an uncommon, soft, cute little animal that was free – so you can only imagine the types of people who were contacting me about her). I started staying up late at night reading and learning about chinchillas, and soon I felt myself being overly demanding about what kind of life I wanted her to have. I quickly realized it was unlikely I’d ever find the kind of owners suitable enough for her, as I wanted to make sure if we had found her a home that she would be safe, happy, and healthy. Animals in this household are treated like family – to us, our four dogs are our children. Adam and I haven’t had any children yet, and some people may think that we are strange about the way we are with our dogs because “they are just animals” to many people, but not to us. Not even close.

I tried my very hardest NOT to name her, because once I knew I officially “named” the chinchilla (for a long time we just called her Chi-Chi), I knew I wouldn’t be able to let her go. One day as I was sitting and playing with her, I asked Adam if she looked like an Annabelle to him because I couldn’t ignore the fact that I kept wanting to call her Annabelle. He immediately agreed, and that was the moment that I realized I had fallen for her. It was official… I loved her. She was ours.

So meet the tiniest member of our household, our little Annabelle! She’s very smart, very sweet, has a super short attention span, is absolutely the SOFTEST little thing you will ever touch, LOVES mini-wheats and dust baths more than anything, loves to stand on absolutely anyone and anything (especially Dakota and Sophie, the only two dogs we allow to be with her out of the cage), and is 100% spoiled rotten already. 🙂

These first two photos were taken the night Adam came home with Annabelle. Chinchillas do NOT like being held, however she let Adam hold her for a long time that night. I really think she needed attention and love and didn’t know what it was. She let Adam hold and love on her and didn’t fight it at all – even though we knew she was scared.


PIKA!!!!!!!!!!!!! She’s our little Pikachu. Here is Annabelle sitting next to the AC window unit we bought to install next to her cage. Biggest scare with having a chinchilla, they can overheat SO EASILY! If the temperature in the house gets too warm, chinchillas can overheat and die within minutes. The highest I typically let it get is 72 degrees (we have a thermostat on her cage to monitor this), and once the temperature reached 73 degrees and the insides of her ears started turning pink and she was breathing at a rapid pace and lying strangely. I read that when their ears turn pink, that’s the first sign to chinchillas overheating (they don’t sweat so they release heat through their ears), and if/when their ears turn RED, it’s fatal. #1 fear with Annabelle – I am fearful of our AC breaking so we just had to have a backup!

Isn’t she sweet?!

This last one obviously isn’t Annabelle, but our little Sophie! I was playing with Annabelle and when I walked back over to the other side of the office, this is what I saw! Our house is FULL of sweet little babies. It’s hard to get anything done around here!



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Sara and Adam are are a husband and wife photography and cinematography team based out of Fredericksburg, VA. Our primary work consists of weddings, engagements, portraits, studio photography, and pets. We are available for travel within Northern Virginia, DC, Charlottesville, and Richmond and would love to speak with you. Please shoot us a message in the form to the right and we will be in touch shortly!