Are Chinchillas a Good Pet to Have?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. July 23, 2020
Are Chinchillas a Good Pet to Have?

Are you thinking of adopting a pet chinchilla? Although uncommon, since it has actually make great pets to have. Contrary to popular belief, domestic chinchillas have little to do with wild chinchillas. While domestic chinchillas come in a great variety, there are only two species of wild chinchillas.

In this AnimalWised article we are going to talk about why can chinchillas make a good pets to have. We will also talk about how to care for a chinchilla. Keep reading to learn more!

You may also be interested in: Are Pythons as Pets a Good Idea?

Do chinchillas make a good house pet?

Chinchillas are one of the least common house pets. And so, many people ask themselves whether it is a good idea to adopt a chinchilla as a pet.

On one hand, chinchillas make a great house pet for patient owners thanks to their playful nature. However, due to their high energy chinchillas are not recommended for children. When considering adopting a chinchilla we must take into account that these animals are crepuscular and can live for up to 20 years.

They are also not the most affectionate pet rodents. Adopting a chinchilla is a great commitment, as with any other pet, and shouldn't be taken lightly.

About pet chinchillas

Chinchillas are small rodents that present sexual dimorphism, as females are larger than males. While adult females weigh around 800 g, males weigh 600 g. Wild chinchillas are larger than domestic chinchillas.

Chinchillas have a very characteristic dense and silky fur. Due to the particularity of their hair structure, you should not handle the animal excessively. Especially when it comes to children as they may accidentally harm the chinchilla. We'll speak more about a chinchilla's fur in the next section as it will require a specific care routine, different to other rodents.

When it comes to a chinchilla's character, they are very social and docile pets. They will never attack anyone unless they truly feel like their life is in danger. These small rodents are loving and playful. They love playing with toys and getting treats from their care givers.

They are also intelligent animals as they recognise and show us how they feel. They communicate a lot through squeals and small nibbles of affection. To learn more we encourage you to read our article on why chinchillas squeal.

Are Chinchillas a Good Pet to Have? - About pet chinchillas

A chinchilla's hair

When caring for a chinchilla, it's important to also understand the complexity of their fur. Unlike humans who have one hair follicle for each hair, chinchillas have 50 or more hairs anchored in each of their follicles. This is a defensive resource for wild chinchillas that domestic ones have kept. Obviously this anchorage is weak and they lose hair by friction if they are stroked too much. This is why it's important not to over-handle them.

When wild chinchillas are harassed by a predator, usually by a maned wolf, their body convulses which causes lots of hair to fall out. These hairs are inserted into the animal's nose, forcing them to sneeze. Giving the chinchilla a chance to escape from the predator.

To bathe a chinchilla, you can never do this with water as this could potentially kill the chinchilla. Instead, chinchillas have a sand bath. You can do this by providing them a tray with fine sand, available in local pet store shops. Then, your chinchilla will bath themselves in the sand.

What to feed your chinchilla

Domestic chinchillas are herbivorous. They can eat any type of edible vegetables and some even eat small insects. One thing chinchillas love is alfalfa. They will also need to have water at their disposal.

They consume around 25 g of food each day, from any kind of vegetable or animal. Fibrous vegetables are excellent but those with a high water content (such as lettuce) should be avoided.

In order to avoid a vitamin deficiency, we recommend providing them with feed for chinchillas, available in pet shops. This is a great addition and will help your chinchilla have a complete and balanced diet. As with all pets, avoid giving them commercial sweets as this can lead to obesity and other health issues.

Lastly, unlike other rodents, chinchillas don't consume their own droppings. Nevertheless, we must always keep up with their cage cleaning.

Are Chinchillas a Good Pet to Have? - What to feed your chinchilla

Chinchilla's health

Chinchillas are generally very healthy animals when given the basic care they need. The most common domestic chinchilla diseases are:

  • Heatstroke
  • Sand in the eyes
  • Stomach issues
  • Mycosis of the skin and hair
  • Dental problems
  • Parasites

However, these problems will not happen if their diet is adequate, their bed of white wood chip is renewed weekly and are provided with fine sand for bathing. Water must be changed regularly too. Learn more in our article on the most common chinchilla diseases.

How to care for a chinchilla

Now that we've spoken about a chinchilla's diet and health, we're going to talk about other important factors when caring for a chinchilla.

Preparing their cage

When preparing you chinchillas cage, it's important to select the correct size for when they are an adult. It's best to have a large cage with various floors, if possible. They will also need a bed of white wood shavings, that needs to be changed each week. They will also need a water bowl and a small nest or cave to take refuge in.


Another important factor is the temperature of where their cage is placed. Chinchillas are very sensitive to heatstroke, in fact, it can even cause them to die. This is why we must provide them with the correct environment. Their cage should be placed in


Lastly, as playful rodents, these animals will need plenty of toys to keep them entertained. Learn more in our article about how to care for chinchillas as pets.

Are Chinchillas a Good Pet to Have? - How to care for a chinchilla

Is a chinchilla the right pet for you?

When considering adopting a chinchilla, there are certain factors we must take into account. These animals are crepuscular, playful, not too affectionate and need calm environment. Nevertheless, if you are a fan of chinchillas and understand their basic needs, they can be the perfect pet for you as they are very docile and loving animals that are easy to care for.

f you're still not sure, will leave some YouTube videos below that can help you decide. This way, you know how to care for a chinchilla, how expensive it is to care for a chinchilla and how adorable they truly are!

If you want to read similar articles to Are Chinchillas a Good Pet to Have?, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

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