I dealt with this nasty stuff once before and it's not easy to get rid of, but it's not impossible either. Odin and Zeus had it when we first brought them home. I remember calling a couple chinchilla "experts" to see what they used on outbreaks in large fur farms. They suggested a toxic chemical commonly found in fertilizer - FERTILIZER! - and an expensive medicine with a name that escapes me. Overall they said the cost to treat the chins would be around $500 - EACH. I said, "uhhh, thanks, but NO." That was the last time I called the "experts" about my animals. I was sure I could find a better, cheaper way, and I did.
I looked up everything I could find about fur fungus (also referred to as ringworm although I'm told by the vet that technically it's not the same thing). I found out what it is (a parasitic fungi made up of dermatophytes, which are organisms that survive by eating the keratin in skin - they usually stay on the top layer of the epidermis, unable to invade the second layer if you have a healthy enough immune system), what causes it, and what it reacts to. I found that tea tree oil is a very effective natural antifungal remedy, and other amateur chin owners used Desenex* foot powder (treats athlete's foot, which is caused by the same type of fungus) on their chinnies to prevent it, so that's what we went with on Odin and Zeus, and what we've ended up doing for Earl after the reaction he had to the prescription medicine.
I tried the tea tree oil on myself first and it's pretty strong in its undiluted form. It leaves a sort of cool-burning sensation on your skin, like a toner would after you wash your face (or aftershave for you men). A chinnie's skin is too delicate for that so instead of using it undiluted, I found an ointment by Desert Essence that contained tea tree oil in a smaller percentage. Personally, I think since the ointment doesn't soak in as fast, it probably kills the fungus better since the fungus also remains on the top layer of skin, but there is no scientific research to back that up. Tea tree oil also has a super strong smell and I didn't want to damage their little pink sniffers, so that was another good reason to have it diluted in the ointment. (Note: In my research on the net I also found some claims that tea tree oil is especially toxic to cats. I don't know whether or not this is true - you can't believe everything you read. If you've found this page looking for answers about ringworm in your pet, please USE COMMON SENSE! Do your own research and talk to your vet before administering anything to your pet!)
It makes a real mess of their fur, but it works like a charm. With time and dust baths, all Odin & Zeus' fur grew back in fine, and I expect Earl's will too. It took a little longer maybe than the prescriptions, but the ointment cost under $10 and the Desenex even less, plus there are less objections from the fuzzy people. I think the fact that I stick to organic products for my animals helps keep them healthier in the long run as well. Our big, lumbering human bodies barely deal with the chemicals we're constantly exposing ourselves to in a graceful fashion. I can't imagine these tiny animals (or even dogs and cats for that matter), where bodily functions are accelerated due to their size, would deal efficiently with foreign substances.
So we're using the tried and true remedy on Earl now, however, I noticed last night when I fed everyone that Earl was not interested in the hazelnut I offered. Earl normally loves ANY treat, and hazelnuts have never been refused before. I tried giving him a cranberry instead and he took that, but he was a long time eating it (also very strange behavior for Earl). I made another appointment with Dr. Welch for Tuesday because I'm now thinking something might have gotten dodgy with his teeth. I watched closely while he ate a supplement pellet and he seems to be biting things off on one side, then chewing slowly, much like a human with a toothache does. If it's going to be something dental-related, I really hope it's a simple problem and not that the fungus has invaded his mouth, because I'm pretty sure asking him to gargle daily is out of the question.
:sigh: My poor little Earl. (Yes, he is missing an ear. He likes to say he lost it in a knife fight, but actually he was born that way. The inner ear is all there, it's just the outer "satellite dish" that's not.)
In other news, the new job is going well. I feel like I'm playing all day doing Photoshop work, which is pretty cool. I've never had a job I really liked before. We get to work from home twice a week too, and when the sky opened up a couple days ago and rained down all kinds of nasty, cold stuff on us, we didn't have to go into the office either. That was REALLY nice until the office closed and let everyone out at 1pm, but we had to keep working since we were able to. Damn. I guess there's a trade off for everything.
This is where I usually work when I work from home. It's my most favorite room in the house because of the sun.
We're supposed to get more wet weather tomorrow. The temp has been resting right at the freezing mark so it can't decide whether to rain or snow, but either way it makes a mess of the roads. I've been looking over at the San Diego weather jealously. 60° and sunny seems like heaven. The snow here is really pretty though when it's falling all stealth-like and you're tucked into the house with a fire, a cup o' tea, and a good book or three. Unfortunately I have a lot of errands and Christmas shopping to complete (bah) so this could throw a real kink in my plans.
The holiday season is not my favorite. Why can't we all just get together and have a meal and appreciate each other like at Thanksgiving? I'm pretty sure Jesus must be shaking his head and sighing, and the Gods are rolling their collective third eye at what we've made of this time of year. And I chose to be born right in the middle of it. What was I thinking? I much prefer once all this BS is over with and I can enjoy the rest of winter in peace.
Mark signed us up to go to one of the porn conventions in Hollywood in February. I'm not that interested in the convention (been there, done that, and no, there are not generally naked girls all over the place - it's all business transactions and dinners of shmooze) but I can't wait to check out Hollywood and LA. I've never been to either. And hopefully it will be a nice break from the cold here.
Well none of this is what I planned to write about, but there it is. So often during the day I think of these poetic things to write in the blog, but there's never time or something handy to write them down, then I forget all the poetry by the time I'm in front of the computer. Just too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. Such is life.
*Many other people have found that Tinactin foot powder works well, but being that it's even stronger than Desenex I'm hesitant to try it. Chinnies are small, delicate creatures and "more" or "stronger" is not always better.