Sarina Grant is a huge lover of pet chinchillas, and in particular her little baby Baxter!
We were lucky enough to interview Sarina (@hellosarina) about being a pet owner, the advantages of caring for a chinchilla and the benefits of having a social media account for your pet.
Why did you choose to buy a chinchilla?
I have always wanted a chinchilla ever since I was a kid.
I was at a birthday party when I was around seven-years-old, and the entertainment was an exotic pet store that brought in all kinds of cool animals, including a chinchilla!
I remember being in enamoured when I saw the chinchilla take a dust bath in a fish bowl, and ever since then I had my sights set on getting a chinchilla.
On a more practical level, chinchillas make great pets.
I’m not home enough to care for a dog or a cat, and so a chinchilla is a great alternative.
They live a long time (15+ years when properly cared for) and they have distinctive personalities and cute quirks.
They make awesome pets if you’re willing to put in the work to care for them.
What qualities and traits are distinctive to Baxter?
One of the things that I get feedback about the most is Baxter’s tolerance for being held and handled.
He doesn’t love it all the time, but there are moments where he enjoys cuddling against my chest, or getting booty scratches.
He wasn’t always like this though, and I make a point to highlight that it took a lot of work to get Baxter to know me and trust me enough to handle him like I do.
It took about a month before he would actively come to the edge of the cage when I walked by and then a further six months before he would let me pick him up without fighting or trying to run away.
It then took about a year before he was comfortable being held for long periods of time.
Another quirk Baxter has is that he loves my dog. I have a small, 15 pound dog that Baxter is obsessed with.
He’s so curious about her, and whenever she walks by his cage he gets right up to the edge and runs around trying to get her attention.
It should be noted that my dog is terrified of him, so the feeling definitely isn’t mutual.
Baxter has also met and created friendships with a few different cats.
He likes chasing them and has even attempted cleaning them a few times, so he is very receptive to a wide range of animals.
What made you decide to open up a social media account for Baxter?
It was actually my friend Natalie’s suggestion!
She made an Instagram for her cats (@bearandoliver), and when I adopted Baxter, she encouraged me to create an Instagram account for him.
It’s been really awesome interacting with so many other chinchilla owners, so it has definitely not been a decision that I regret.
How do you differentiate his feed to other chinchilla accounts?
Photography is a hobby and passion of mine (you can follow my personal account @hellosarina) and almost all of the photos I post on Baxter’s account are shot with my DSLR.
I think this makes a difference because Chinchillas move so quickly, so it’s helpful to have the resources to quickly capture a high quality image.
What does being a pet owner mean to you?
I think of my role as a pet owner as essentially being a mother figure to Baxter.
I made the choice to adopt this animal who is relatively helpless without me.
He needs me for food, water, hygiene, a clean environment, entertainment, social interaction and everything else that comes with caring for another being.
It’s a job I take very seriously, and it’s a privilege to create and build a bond with Baxter.
What is the cheekiest thing he has ever done?
Baxter rejects me a lot! He’s such a tease.
For example, I’ll go in to give him a kiss, and he’ll put his paw on my mouth.
He does stuff like that all the time. One moment he’ll be interested in interaction and playing with me, and the next he’ll be like “nah, psych.”
Do you think there is a big market for chinchillas in Las Vegas?
Chinchillas were only domesticated as pets around 50 years or so, ago.
But Chinchillas as animals have a long history of being bred purely for their skin to make clothing.
It takes 277282 chinchillas to make a single coat, which is a terribly sad statistic.
I think many people aren’t familiar with Chinchillas as pets, and the unique characteristics that separate them from other rodents.
In my experience, people categorize them with Guinea Pigs and Hamsters, but to me, a chinchilla is different because of their long lifespan, personality and intelligence.
So to answer your question, no, I don’t think there is a big market for Chinchillas in Las Vegas, or anywhere in the United States for that matter.
Since being on instagram, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of chinchillas who live in Asia!
So, it seems that there is more of a market for pet chinchillas over there.
What made you choose the name Baxter?
For example, I adopted my dog Lillie around the same time the final Harry Potter book came out, and I was inspired by Harry’s mum Lily, when it came to choosing a name.
We pulled up a list of “cute pet names” online, and his name was on the list!