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When the PhD Pet Chooses You

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

Ryan and I didn't actually intend to buy a chinchilla the day we brought Sasha home. It was out first year of grad school, and we wanted a pet. We had decided that a dog would be too much work during PhD lab rotations, and Ryan is allergic to cats. I know I was likely to end up in a mouse lab, so I didn't want a pet that looked too much like my research animals - mice, rats, gerbils, and hamsters were out.

We thought about a rabbit, but they're kind of smelly and we lived in a small (by Houston standards!) apartment. One of us came up with the idea of getting a chinchilla, and we found out that there is an exotic pet store in Houston that sells chinchillas. Our PhD program was structured so that during the first year, students get a week off after finals week at the end of each 8-week term. So, right before out first round of finals, we decided to go buy a cage and all the supplies we'd need for a chinchilla.

We figured we'd go back and get the actual chinchilla after finals, so we would have a week off the get the chin settled in.


When we went to the pet store, the sales associate said: "do you want to hold one of the chinchillas, just to get an idea of what it would be like?" Of course, we said yes. So he went back to the chinchilla area, opened the cage, and out hopped Sasha, right into his hands. He brought her over to us, and once I had this little fluff ball in my hands I couldn't just leave her there! So...we bought the cage and supplies, and they gave us a cardboard box to bring Sasha home in.

Chinchillas are definitely not as excited to see you as dogs are, but Sasha lets us know when she's mad that we've been gone too long.

And, I do think it's nice to have a pet to take care of. Plus, she's pretty cute.


Thank you to Allison at @allison_mayle on instagram and Twitter for this week's PhD Pet of the Week!

Submit YOUR pet of the week by clicking on this link!


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