Chinchillas can be expensive to buy but make very friendly and very clean pets. They do have special requirements in some areas, for example:
- Chinchilla Cage
- Chinchilla Diet
- Chinchilla Handling
- Chinchilla Care
Nocturnal with finely attuned hearing, chinchillas tend to be wary and can become stressed by any sudden changes in their immediate environment. Kept in an environment where they feel secure, they make excellent, friendly pets and will live for around ten years and sometimes much longer as pets.
Chinchilla cages need to be large as chinchillas like moving around, jumping, running and climbing at night. Sheleves and platforms plus thick tree branches bought from a pet shop avoid any risks of infection. Sycamore and apple tree branches are both very suitable for the purpose.
The cage will need to be cleaned weekly, and a solid cage base is to be preferred, covered in wood shavings, again supplied from pet shops. Chinchillas often soil the same area of their cage. Baking soda can be used on that area of the floor lining to help keep it clean.
Chinchillas need to be fed on special pellets designed for them, supplemented with fibre provided by hay or alfalfa which can be put on shelves around their cage rather than on the cage floor where it will become unhealthy for them. Apple in small pieces and one or two raisins serve well as treats fopr chinchillas.
Chinchillas will grow to like handling very much if familiarised with it from young. Approach chinchillas slowly and make no sudden movements as it can alarm them and if panicked and cornered may bite. They should be held carefully but firmly supported from underneath so that they will stay in position and feel secure. When your chinchilla is used to this, it provides an ideal opportunity to check for any signs of ill heakth. The chinchilla’s fur should be thick with no sign of patchiness though some colour varieties exhibit different hues across their coat, and the chinchilla’s body should feel firm.
Having other pets such as cats and dogs in the same house as a chinchilla is generally too stressful for the chinchilla and should be avoided.
Chicnhillas keep themselves very clean when they are active and healthy, but a chinchilla comb should also be used regularly. They should also be allowed to use a dust bath every two to three days for a short time before removing the bath from the cage. The dust is a specific formula usually derived from volcanic ash, which dries the fur of excess grease and helps the chinchilla look after itself more easily.
Chinchillas breed less than other rodents and their gestation period is longer. Baby chinchillas are born live and well-developed, similar to guinea pigs. Overfeeding them when young can kill them; half the amount fed to adult chinchillas is generally recommended.