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Keeping Chinchillas as Pets

Chinchillas are a rather unusual pet for most people, but they can be wonderful little companions if you’re not bothered by having a relatively high-strung creature as a pet. They’re a bit like squirrels in their quirky, active natures, but they don’t emit any loud or obnoxious noises, they don’t develop any unpleasant odors, and they have relatively long lifespans, so they’ll be with you a while. You will also love picking them up and holding their luxuriously soft fur. Here are some of the things you need to consider if you’re going to make a chinchilla your next pet at home.

Getting the Right Cage

You could make your own cage if you have those kinds of skills, but most likely you’ll want to buy one online, or simply go to the local pet shop and pick one up. The only real characteristics you need to allow for are making sure that it’s roomy enough to accommodate your new pet, and that it can be comfortable when it’s looking to relax.

As a general rule, it would be better to get a bigger cage than you think you need because they’re very active little creatures that do a lot of climbing, jumping, and running around. It’s a good idea to purchase a cage that has several levels to it and is taller than it is wide.

Air Temperature

Once you’ve got your cage picked out, you should figure out where in the home you’re going to position the cage, so that the temperature is right for your new pet. Obviously, you should not place it next to a door or a window, because temperatures have a tendency to fluctuate in those situations.

If you can situate your cage in a spot that has a steady temperature between 60 and 75°, that will be just fine. Don’t allow the temperature around the cage to exceed 80 degrees, or it will be subject to heatstroke, and humidity should be kept below 60%. If you see your chinchilla’s ears starting to turn red, that’s a telltale sign that overheating is in progress.

Installing Cage Bedding

Some woodchips are harmful to chinchillas, so it’s very important that you get the right kind of bedding to put at the bottom of your chinchilla cage. Avoid any kind of bedding that includes cedar or conifer chips. The ideal chips to use for your chinchilla cage are those which are non-treated, preferably of a type like Appletree, Willow, Birch, or Aspen. At least once a week you should clean out your chinchilla’s bedding, and replace it with some fresh material.

Accessories for the Cage

One of the first things you should buy as a cage accessory is a large wheel because exercise is very important to the chinchilla’s health. Most of the time, it will be sleeping through the day and will be more active at night, so it will be best if you have some kind of appropriately sized den for them to sleep in throughout the day.

Little plastic dens are perfectly all right, and you can even make your own by just poking a hole in the side of a container that’s large enough for them to pass through. Make sure to include a few chew toys and a few sticks for your chinchilla to chew on, because their teeth require constant gnawing in order to keep them correctly sized.

A chinchilla is feds a delicious snack that chinchillas enjoy that keep it healthy and happy.

It’s important to make sure you get the proper food for your chinchilla so they remain healthy.

Food for your Pet

Chinchillas are unable to digest most kinds of green plants, and they don’t do well with protein or fatty foods either. In fact, the only kind of food that a chinchilla really does care for is hay, so if you can supply them with some fresh timothy each day, that will be all they really need.

If fresh timothy is not readily available all the time, you can also supply your chinchilla with hay pellets in a bowl, and they’ll be munching on these contentedly throughout the day or night. If you want to mix things up briefly sometime, you can give them a treat consisting of lettuce leaves and nothing else.

It’s better that you don’t mix up their diet much at all, because even small variations tend to give them digestive problems. In short, feeding your chinchilla is going to be one of the easiest aspects of its care, because there isn’t really anything that they like to eat other than hay.

Chinchillas Baths

The first thing you need to know about chinchilla baths is that you should never get your chinchilla wet because their fur is so thick, it’s literally impossible to ever get it dry again. Since this is the case, fungi can start growing in their fur, or it can begin to rot away.

If you happen to accidentally get your chinchilla wet, you should dry it off immediately to the best of your ability, making sure that you use both towels and a hairdryer which blows no heat.

The chinchilla baths that you purchase in a pet shop actually hold dust, which is necessary to soak up the oils and dirt which are on their skin and on their fur. Most chinchillas will do this at least a few times a week on their own if you leave the chinchilla bath in place in their cage, but some enjoy it so much, that they’ll do it several times daily without being prompted.

How to Play With a Pet Chinchilla

A cute pet chinchilla in its cage.

Have some fun playing with your pet chinchilla.

At the Pet Shop, we can’t deny how easy it is to fall in love with some of our smaller animals. In fact, one tiny critter, the chinchilla, seems to draw the attention of many pet lovers. It’s their soft skin that makes these rodents irresistible. If you decide to make this adorable little one a part of your life, you are going to need to know a few things.

The first is that a pet chinchilla is a small creature, but full of energy. These animals will crave your attention. The second thing you need to remember is to approach your chinchilla with care; they are very different from other animals. When it comes to playtime, make sure they are comfortable and enjoy your bonding experience.

They Love the Night Life

By nature, chinchillas are nocturnal animals. These pets are active and move around once the evening begins. You can’t force them to play in the middle of the day as you’ll only interrupt their sleep schedule. Take time during every night to play with your pet chinchilla for about 30 minutes to an hour.

Make Sure Your Pet Chinchilla Is Safe

We cannot stress enough how important it is that you take precautions with your pet. Chinchillas can be a bit curious, which can get them into all sorts of trouble. Have their play area prepped by placing cables, wires, and electrical out of their reach. If you can’t move these items, cover them in protective tubing. You should also look for certain spots in your home where your chinchilla might hide. You’d be surprised by how many small spaces like cracks and gaps they can fit into. Cover those spots and quarantine them somewhere they cannot get lost.

Toys Make Them Happy

There are plenty of pet toys that you can buy for your chinchilla. In fact, you don’t even have to go to the pet store to find something for them. Chinchillas like playing with the same chew toys as parrots. You can also use the cardboard rolls from paper towels.

Give Them Something to Climb On

It’s important to keep track of where you chinchilla is at times. As we mentioned before, these pets tend to find themselves in small spaces. A chinchilla is also very active and playful, meaning they will climb, jump and bounce off of everything in sight if they get the chance. We suggest buying a small step ladder or doggy steps. You can let them play on the couch or stairs in your home, just carefully watch them and make sure they don’t get into space they should not be.

Play With Them

You can’t force your chinchilla to play with you. Have some patience and wait for your pet to come to you. You can encourage them to play with you by talking with them. When your little friend makes their way over to you, pet them. Over time, your chinchilla will become more and more accustomed to being around you and come to you on their own.

Chill Out with a Chinchilla

“What is that?” will probably be the response the first time your family members or friends see your new pet. However, chinchillas make great companions. If you decide to get a chinchilla, there are a few basic things you need to know. Here’s a brief introduction to an amazing exotic pet.

Natural Habitat of a Chinchilla

Chinchillas hail from South America, particularly the Andes Mountains. Chinchillas love dry, rocky terrain. The dry part is especially important to remember, because having a healthy chinchilla primarily depends on keeping the environment dry and giving your pet room to hop around.

A Petable Pet

Let’s face it. There are many types of pets that you may not even want to touch. Chinchillas are the exact opposite. They have one of the softest pelts in the animal kingdom. Sadly, this led to a great deal of hunting in past times. Even worse, some people still breed chinchillas strictly to harvest their fur. In contrast, many owners are very happy with their chinchillas alive and healthy as they are definitely smooth and soft to pet.

Moderately Social Animals

Chinchillas are only fairly social. If you get two of the same gender, be certain they get along. If you intend to spend time with your pet daily, one may remain healthy on its own. Their playful behavior makes them ideal pets to play with and they’re known to make great tableside companions or remain satisfied hopping about alone the rest of the day.

Not Snugglers

Chinchillas are great pets, especially because they are soft to the touch. But don’t get the wrong idea. Chinchillas prefer not to be held and coddled like you might a rabbit or Guinea Pig. It will depend on the personality of your individual chinchilla, but be sure to respect its need for space. A chinchilla will be happy to sit near you while you pet it. Remember, though, that they prefer hard and dry surfaces for sitting purposes.

Of course, there is much more to learn about this lovable pet, but this should offer some helpful insight into the world of chinchillas.