NWI Chinchillas

Breeding quality chinchillas and rescuing exotics since 2003.

About Us

Hi!  My name is Ashley Gajda.  I've owned, bred, and rescued chinchillas for about 13 years now (since 2003).  At the present time, NWI Chinchillas is run out of my house in Hammond, Indiana.  

I bought my first chinchilla shortly after I entered college in 2003.  I named this chinchilla "Winx," because he would often wink at me.  At the time I got Winx, I did not know much about chinchilla care, and I did quite a few things wrong: provided him with bad treats, had plastic in his cage, and didn't give him hay.  However, I wanted him to live a long and healthy life, so I started researching the correct care for chinchillas.  I read chinchilla books and talked to some large-scale breeders and ranchers.  As it turned out, I learned that most of the books and information available on how to care for chinchillas is either incorrect or outdated.  When I started breeding chinchillas, I did not want the chinchillas I sold to go into homes that did not know how to correctly care for a chinchilla, so I wrote up my own chinchilla care packet.  This care packet illustrates how we, here at NWI, care for our chinchillas.  To make this information available to people coming across this website, the information contained in the packet is on the "Chinchilla Care Info." page.  In addition, this information packet goes home with every chinchilla we sell (as well as with all of the rescues we adopt out to new homes), to ensure these chinchillas receive the best, most correct care available. 

After we had Winx for a short while, we bought a friend for him and named her Moki.  About this time, my mother realized she wanted her own chinchilla, so Jinx came into our lives.  Shortly after getting her, we acquired Toby and Bailey from JAGS in Michigan.  After that, Cody, Tucker, and Fuzzy (all rescue chinchillas -- now in their new homes) all found their way to us.  Somewhere amid all of this, NWI Chinchillas was born.

Since then, we have taken in and re-homed many rescues, and have expanded our own herd quite a bit as well. 

NWI Chinchillas News & Appearances

April 2011 -- NWI Chinchilla Rescue has been listed on the Tails, Inc. website, under Other Rescues - see listing

July 19, 2011 -- the rescue was featured in an article in the Post Tribune - see newspaper article

July 25, 2011 -- NWI Chinchilla Rescue became an approved rescue on Petfinder.com - see NWI Chinchilla Rescue on Petfinder

February 17, 2012 -- NWI Chinchilla Rescue became an approved rescue on Adopt-A-Pet.com - Adopt-A-Pet website

January 2013 -- the rescue hosted a girl scout meeting.  The girl scouts learned about the rescue, what we do, and helped make goodie bags for when our rescues go to their new homes.  Pictures and more information here.

March 7, 2013 -- NWI Chinchilla Rescue attended Highland High School's Career Exploration Day.  photo 1, photo 2.

April 3, 2013 -- the rescue hosted a girl scout meeting for the daisies.  The daisies learned about the rescue, the type of pets we take in, and how each pet is cared for.  They also learned about the responsibility involved in owning a pet.  They helped make goodie bags for when our rescues go to their new homes.  Pictures and more information here.

March 25, 2016 -- NWI Chinchilla Rescue presented on chinchillas and their care requirements at the Woodland Child Development Center in Hammond, IN.  photo 1, photo 2

October 1, 2016 -- NWI Chinchilla Rescue participated in the Kid's Power Fun Fest event in Chesterton, IN.  photo 1, photo 2, photo 3 

In addition to the above listings -- every year, we attend numerous pet expos and chinchilla shows.  These are not listed above, as they are yearly events, rather than the events listed above, which are more one-time events.

NWI Chinchillas Photos

Hi!  Here's a pic of me (Ashley) in fall 2016.


Also here in May 2018, when I got the personalized license plate for one of my vehicles...


We do have other animals / pets here, other than the chinchillas.  We have two shetland sheepdogs (shelties) -- Kailey and Misty.  We also have three prairie dogs (Shani, Summer, & Sunny), four adult crested geckos (and usually several of their hatchlings as well) and three corn snakes.  See pictures below. 

Here is our original sheltie, Kailey.  She is a black-tipped sable.  She was born April 23, 2008.  She's now a senior with arthritis in her one paw, and on all sorts of joint meds, but we still love her to death!  She's like my own kid!  Kailey does all sorts of tricks, and she often wins the local trick competitions!

Here is our other sheltie, Misty.  She is a sable merle.  She was born July 12, 2015.  She's the goofy one of the family.  Misty has been going to performance dog and agility classes at Canine Connect Dog Sports since she was 5 months old!  We're working on getting her ready, so we can one day do agility with her!

Below are pics of our original prairie dog - Shiloh.  Shiloh came to NWI as an owner surrender -- one of the children had developed health problems and the family no longer had time for their pets.  Shiloh came to the rescue in bad shape -- he had no fur from the shoulders down, and puncture wounds dotting his back.  The fur loss and wounds were the result of him "playing tag" with the family dogs (which were, of course, a hunting breed).  This "tag" consisted of the dogs biting him, Shiloh turning around to try to defend himself, and so on.  Through a long course of antibiotics, we cured his infection.  His wounds healed, and eventually, his fur started growing back.  While we had initially intended on re-homing him once he was healthy again, he worked his way into our hearts and was our resident prairie dog, until he passed in January 2015.  In reality, he continued to have major health problems such as odontomas, which kept him at the rescue, even if we had wanted to adopt him out... but we loved him to death!

While Shiloh never was one for beind held, he did LOVE his scritches.  Tummy scratches were his favorite, and people flocked to pet him at our adoption events.

In early 2012, we decided to get Shiloh his own Shiloh-sized cage.  He really seemed to enjoy having the biggest cage in our chin-room!  We now have it on it's own rolling stand, but it is huge!  It's larger than my own fridge upstairs!  Now, Shani, Summer, and Sunny live in this cage.


We also decided to get Shiloh a buddy, as prairie dogs are highly social critters and live in large family groups.  In early May 2013, we brought home a 6 week old female black-tailed prairie dog, and named her Shani.  Shani and Shiloh got along great from the get-go, so when Shiloh passed, and the next spring rolled around, we picked up another female to house with Shani.  We named the new prairie dog Summer.  Of course, the two did not get along, so Summer lived by herself until the next spring, when we picked up a male and named him Sunny.  He got along great with Summer, and were housed together for quite some time, until Sunny started escaping the cage they were housed in.  We then tried integrating them all together in the large prairie dog cage in the fall of 2016, and they now all live happily together.