Caring for Chinchillas

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: November 22, 2016
Caring for Chinchillas

If you have decided to adopt a pet chinchilla, it is important to do some research and get properly informed about all its needs. This way, your chinchilla will stay healthy and happy and you will be able to enjoy its company for a long time.

There are different kinds and breeds of chinchilla; if you want to know more about their morphology and the differences between wild and domestic chinchillas, we recommend our article on the long-tailed chinchilla.

All the aspects of a pet's welfare are linked; taking good care of your chinchilla will directly affect its health, and a healthy chinchilla will reward you with lots of affection and love. Find out all about caring for chinchillas in this AnimalWised article.

Make sure you comment and share a photo of your chinchilla for other users to see!

You may also be interested in: Do Chinchillas Bite?

What is the best cage for a pet chinchilla?

Before adopting a chinchilla, it is important to prepare the cage where it will live. You should know that these rodents need to be given space; therefore, we recommend looking for a cage that is sufficiently wide and high. A chinchilla's cage should be at least 100 x 70 x 100 cm, that is, 40 x 28 x 40 inches.

The minimum requirements for a chinchilla's cage include:

  • Places to hide
  • Climbing ropes or branches
  • Big wheel to exercise
  • Safe paper substrate
  • Stainless steel food bowl
  • Litter box
  • Water dispenser

Place the cage in a cool place in the house that is not subjected to any drafts of air. This should be away from the warmest areas, because chinchillas can tolerate the cold well but not the heat.

Caring for Chinchillas - What is the best cage for a pet chinchilla?

Getting a chinchilla used to its new home

For the first few days, your new chinchilla will feel frightened and even stressed. For this reason, it is essential to avoid touching it.

Let your pet chinchilla rest in a dark place, allowing it to relax and gradually get used to its new home. If you have other pets at home, stop them from going near the chinchilla for the first few days as this can make it truly scared, making the situation needlessly distressing.

Chinchillas have nocturnal habits, which is why it's preferable for you to interact with it in the evening, at night or early in the morning. This is when your chinchilla will be more active and receptive to playing and communicating with you.

Two or three days after your chinchilla has arrived home you can start giving it treats or fruits that it likes so that it can start getting to know you and feel trust in you.

Caring for Chinchillas - Getting a chinchilla used to its new home

Dust baths for chinchillas

A chinchilla's fur is really peculiar: Unlike other rodents, chinchillas have more than 50 hairs in each follicle. This makes their coat extremely soft and velvety, which helps them escape predators.

However, their special fur needs to be looked after with particular care. If you want your chinchilla's coat to stay bright, soft and well-groomed, you should give it a dust bath.

You can find dust baths for chinchillas at any pet shop. This very fine substrate should placed in your chinchilla's cage; you'll soon see how your pet starts to roll around happily in the dust, covering its coat with the product.

After the dust bath, you must make sure that your chinchilla hasn't got any dust traces in its eyes.

Caring for Chinchillas - Dust baths for chinchillas

Exercise for chinchillas

Chinchillas are very active and love to jump, climb and run around. They are very nervous animals; therefore, it will be crucial to help them burn the energy they have.

You should add a large wheel to its cage - or place it outside - similar to those used by hamsters so that your chinchilla can exercise. Avoid getting one with bars, as it could get its leg caught. You can also incorporate ropes and shelves into its cage so that it can climb and jump whenever it wants.

Finally, we suggest that you create an outdoor area, fenced off for its safety. This will be a sort of playground in which your chinchilla can move freely and explore new places.

Caring for Chinchillas - Exercise for chinchillas

What is the best diet for a pet chinchilla?

A pet chinchilla's diet is based on pre-prepared feed specific for chinchillas, since it is the most complete food that you can give it. Look for the best quality brands.

You can also include small amounts of the following products in your chinchilla's diet:

  • hay
  • carrot
  • green pepper
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • natural oat grains
  • dandelion
  • small insects
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • apple
  • pear
  • banana
  • watermelon

Very occasionally - twice a week at the most - you can delight it with treats:

  • sunflower seeds
  • raisins
  • hazelnuts
  • almonds
  • walnuts

Here you can learn more about the diet of the long-tailed chinchilla and what is the best diet for a pet chinchilla.

Caring for Chinchillas - What is the best diet for a pet chinchilla?

Keep your pet chinchilla healthy

Even though the chinchilla is a relatively healthy animal, you should know about the most common diseases that can affect your pet:

  • Heatstroke: Prevent it by placing your chinchilla's cage in a cool place without drafts.
  • Dust in its eyes: Check your chinchilla after each dust bath to prevent it.
  • Parasites: These usually appear as a result of a lack of hygiene. One of the most common is ringworm.
  • Digestive problems: These can appear if you give your chinchilla too much fruit that contains a lot of water, or if it has a poor diet.

If you are worried that your chinchilla may have a serious health problem, don't hesitate: go to the vet. The internet is full of tips and information about diseases, but the truth is that only a veterinarian can make a diagnosis and provide the appropriate treatment.

Is your chinchilla's squealing worrying you? Stay with us and learn why do chinchillas squeal.

Caring for Chinchillas - Keep your pet chinchilla healthy

If you want to read similar articles to Caring for Chinchillas, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

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