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Saturday, December 09, 2000

Ruby Death March

As long as I'm on a roll with these upbeat journal entries...

I noticed shortly after arriving that Ruby's chest was all wet. A wet chinchilla is not a happy chinchilla, but I couldn't figure out how she was getting wet. A little additional sleuthing and I realized it was drool. Not a happy chinchilla.

Google promptly turned up the skinny on drooling chinchillas -- bad teeth, probably too long. I prodded her mouth open and found two enormously long sets of teeth, which instead of being capped at the usual 90 degrees were now meshing at maybe 30 degrees, sporting 350 degree razor sharp tips on both sets. I checked under her arms for signs of wings, and checked my neck for puncture wounds, but no such luck. Not a happy chinchilla.

She wasn't eating, wouldn't even eat her favorite Ruby Snacks. I fed her something she couldn't resist (a bit of fresh cherry) and watched her trying to chew it, her jaw moving at bizarre angles in a practiced attempt to masticate this soft morsel. She lost more drool than the volume of the bit of cherry she was trying to eat. She didn't even try to chew it with her back molars -- they probably hadn't touched in quite some time with these spears keeping her from closing her mouth. Not a happy chinchilla.

I called the chinch ranch and learned that her teeth should be about a quarter inch long, cut square. He recommended trimming them with a large fingernail clipper.

The memory of the snap still haunts me.

Soft, fluffy chinchilla, pinned on her back in my lap, teeth grabbed within the clamp of a pair of toenail clippers, other hand trying to keep her lips out of the way so I didn't get a chunk of flesh when the teeth finally gave way. SNAP! Needle tooth flying across the room, ricocheting off the wall and floor, Ruby startled, working her jaw, wondering what just happened to her teeth.

She didn't whine, didn't nip, didn't really seem to care. She just seemed hopelessly depressed, before, during, and after. It bothered me more than it seemed to bother her, and I think she'll be dead by tomorrow or so. But at least she's not drooling on herself any more.

I gave her another piece of cherry. She put it in her mouth, worked it around one or two tries, then just gave up, dropped it, and sat there looking depressed. Did I cut them too short?


She won't eat anything. I have piles of ground up food and hay for her, a dish of food and water mush, and she won't have any of it. I saw her yesterday approach her water bottle, put her nose to it as if to drink, then look away instead. She repeated this a few times, then hopped away. I held the water bottle by hand and giggled it to get the drops hanging off so she didn't have to tongue it to break the surface tension, and she drank it. She drank as much as I would shake into her mouth, but if I stopped shaking, she lost interest and wandered off; wouldn't lick the damned bottle (but she licked her lips, so I don't think I lopped off her tongue). I fed her more cherry by hand, and she toothed it, seemed to try to eat it as long as I'd hold it for her, but if I set it down in front of her she promptly ignored it. I tried feeding her today with a baby medicine syringe. She swallowed a drop or two before she just stuck her tongue in the way and let the chinchilla-food mush goosh out of her mouth and dribble down her chest.

She's lost 1.5% of her body weight in the last 24 hours. She was shaking earlier today, then had a little fit of twitching her head as if she were trying to reach some invisible attacker.

But mostly she just sits motionless in her little house with closed eyes and droopy ears.

And I feel oh so very mortal as I hobble away on my injured foot, sit on my couch in my little house, and close my eyes.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com