Choosing a Chinchilla as a Pet
Chinchillas are active pets which are quite easy to care for and can be tamed easily; therefore they do require a lot of attention. They are nocturnal animals, so will only wake at night, and because they like to jump, require a large multi-level cage. Their coat is extremely soft, and they will need a regular dust bath to keep it healthy and in good condition.
Two popular Chinchilla species are:
- Chinchilla Lanigeria will grow to about 26cm, and have a recognizable pointed head when looked at from the side. Their coat is a bluish grey colour.
- Chinchilla Brevicaudata is a slightly larger species, growing to about 32cm. Long hairs will make up its tail which will be about 10cm long. It has a shorter head than the Lanigeria and its ears particularly rounded. The fur is very fine but is thicker than the Chinchilla Lanigeria.
Company for Chinchillas
Chinchillas can live happily in pairs or groups or can be kept singly. However, if you plan to keep two together, you will need to introduce them carefully; because chinchillas do not always get along. It is recommended that you separate the cage into two parts so that neither Chinchilla can dominate the other.
The average lifespan of a Chinchilla is between ten and fifteen years.
Where Chinchillas Like to Live
Chinchillas are quite active and excellent jumpers so will need lots of room to run around their cage. A multi-story wire cage with a solid base is recommended. As they are nocturnal, your Chinchilla will like to retreat during the day, so a house to sleep in is essential.
Cages should be kept indoors, away from direct sunlight, radiators and draughts.
Exercise & Play for Chinchillas
They require extensive exercise and will require time outside their cage to stretch their legs. They are excellent jumpers; so while they can spend much time out of their cage, they should be supervised at all times. Multi level cages and an exercise wheel are recommended to keep your Chinchilla occupied. On the other hand, when choosing a wheel, wire wheels should be avoided as they may cause leg injuries.
In addition to lots of exercise, your Chinchilla will chew all the time; so chewing material such as wooden blocks, gnaw sticks, and toilet paper rolls are essential for their cage.
Diet & Nutrition
Ensure your Chinchilla has a healthy balanced diet. For example, by providing fresh hay and a specialist blend of Chinchilla food; with a good moisture and protein percentage.
Gnaw sticks are also essential to keep her teeth healthy and trim; and clean fresh water should be provided daily.
Health & Hygiene
Keep your Chinchilla in good health by providing a balanced diet, lots of exercise and a clean living space.
A healthy Chinchilla will have:
- A dense and smooth coat with no bare patches
- Wide, bright eyes
- Clear, dry nose
- Straight teeth which are not overgrown
If you become concerned about any aspect of your Chinchillas health, please speak to your Petmania Petcare Advisors they will be happy to help you.
Chinchilla’s teeth grow continuously and need to be kept trim by chewing and gnawing. In conclusion, this is to prevent the teeth from overgrowing which will stop your Chinchilla from eating and causing discomfort. Gnaw sticks and chew toys are good options to help prevent the chinchillas teeth from becoming painful.
A dust bath is essential for a chinchillas health and the condition of their coat. Chinchillas find the dust bath soothing, relaxing and fun; however too much bathing can dry the skin. Therefore, if the dust bath is left in their cage, your Chinchilla may sit in it and use it as litter box. For this reason, a dust bath should be left in your Chinchillas cage for about fifteen to twenty minutes a day.
Chinchillas are excellent self groomers, and require very little grooming. Consequently, it is recommended that you brush your Chinchilla down once a week; this is to create an interaction between the owner and Chinchilla. A dust bath is an essential part of your Chinchillas daily grooming routine.
Take Me Home Checklist
When you take your Chinchilla home, you will need make sure you have some things in order to help keep them healthy and happy. We’ve put together a simple ‘Take Me Home’ checklist for new Chinchilla keepers. If you have any questions, or need any further advice, please drop in to your local Petmania and talk to our Petcare Advisors.
• Cage ( two story or three story)
• Bedding ( wood shavings/ sawdust)
• Dust bath ( Chinchilla sand)
• Chinchilla food and hay
• Water bottle + ceramic bowl
• House for the chinchilla to sleep in
• Pet safe disinfectant
• Chew toys ( gnaw sticks / gnaw stones)
• Chinchilla book
• Grooming glove and soft brush
• Chinchilla treats