Christine Alka: Chinchilla Wizard

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Mary Standifer/CullmanSense

CULLMAN – Christine Alka is a local resident who owns and operates a chinchilla breeding, rescue, rehabilitation, and babysitting service. Christine first began working with chinchillas after a friend asked her to help him locate one for sale to impress a girl he was interested in. When researching the general care of the pets and searching online for somewhere to purchase one, Christine noticed that resources were very limited. She finally located a chinchilla that had been abandoned at a pet shop for sale. After noting how difficult it had been to find information and places to purchase the furry creatures, Christine decided to take advantage of her Entrepreneurship degree by starting her own breeding business. “If it was so difficult for me to find anything, I was wondering who else was looking and can’t find it,” explains Christine.

“So I started calling multiple breeders…and just learning a little bit more, and not only about the animal, but also the breeders themselves…Are they really in it for the Chinchilla, or are they in it for the money?” says Christine. Early on, Christine noticed that many breeders were unfortunately merely in it for the money. She began speaking more with breeders who seemed to truly care for their animals.

 

Cleaning cages and I got the best surprise! Baby chinchilla cuteness! This little girl will need her new home in about 8 weeks if your interested please pm me!

Posted by Freedom Chinchillas/Sugar Gliders on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Christine was unemployed at the time of her research and was looking for an enjoyable line of work to begin. “I’ve always enjoyed doing stuff with animals so [I thought] ‘This could work,’,” she explains. Freedom Chinchillas started out with four chinchillas that were purchased from a refutable breeder as small kits. Eventually, the breeder she had been purchasing from in Tennessee informed her that she would be closing shop for good. “She let me know that she was going to sell out; she wasn’t going to do it anymore,” elaborates Christine. Christine used her entire tax return from that year to purchase a herd. Since then, she has purchased and housed many more chinchillas. At most she has had 100 housed at one time. 

Each chinchilla is given frequent dust baths, food, water, attention, and time to play. Every week, Christine spends time replacing each habitat’s bedding. The chinchillas are kept in a basement in Christine’s house where it is cool to mimic their natural habitat: The Andes Mountains. 

With the growing popularity of chinchillas as pets, the rehabilitation and rescue side of Freedom Chinchillas has seen a rise. Many of the chinchillas Christine takes in are products of pet stores where the chinchillas needs are not being met. “Pet stores as a general whole…run as a business, and a business only. They target the customer, not necessarily what is best for the animal,” says Christine. Some chinchillas are rescued and rehabilitated from physical problems like malnutrition or fur loss, while others have simply not been handled by humans and need time and work to create trust between the animal and owner.

Aside from her work with chinchillas, Christine also raises and rescues sugar gliders, as well as breeds German shepherds. She offers assistance to all of her customers when raising animals that she sold; customers may call her at anytime if something is wrong or they have a question. For more about Freedom Chinchillas, visit facebook.com/pages/Freedom-ChinchillasSugar-Gliders/190667457616315.