Things every chinchilla owner should know

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Staff member
Jan 28, 2009
South Dakota
Things Every Chinchilla Owner Should Know (Written by Steph)

Chinchillas make wonderful pets provided you respect their natural curiosity and energy.

Chinchillas are a long term commitment and should not be entered in to lightly

Small children can be dangerous when allowed around Chinchillas unsupervised

Chinchillas will chew and taste everything and should never be left unsupervised in a room

Chinchillas are naturally a prey animal so they mask signs of illness often until it is to late and therefore you must be diligent in observing your Chinchilla’s behavior, appetite, energy level, and temperament

Chinchillas do not like to be snuggled and carried around and they should never be allowed outdoors

Chinchillas wear a fur coat so room temperatures must be carefully monitored and never reach more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity should also be kept as low as possible.

Chinchillas have powerful back legs designed for jumping and they can injure themselves if they are to fall to great a distance or get a foot or leg caught on a wire or uneven surface

Diarrhea and constipation can both be fatal to Chinchillas (especially kits) so you must be very observant

Male Chinchillas can get hair rings and their genitals should be examined at least once a month.

Chinchillas are crepuscular and should be housed in a quiet area of the house during the daytime

Chinchillas have a natural fear of animals bigger than them (including humans) and you should NEVER approach a Chinchilla from above. Cages should be placed with their doors at eye level so they are not startled by your approach

Chinchillas require dust baths to remain clean, healthy, and happy; dust baths should be offered 3 times a week

Chinchillas should NEVER be left home alone for more than 24 hours. If you must be gone for any length of time you will need a trusted and reliable pet sitter. It’s also a good idea to inform a trusted neighbor of your plans so they can keep an eye on your home and alert emergency personnel of your Chinchilla’s presence in an emergency. You can also call your local rescue stations, fire departments, and police departments and inform them of your Chinchillas whereabouts in your home and pass along any necessary information they may need in an emergency. You should make certain your pet sitter and your neighbor know the name and phone number for your vet and that you make arrangements for funding in case a medical emergency should arise in your absence.

NEVER give raisins and other sugary treats to a Chinchilla.

Chinchillas are herbivores and have specific dietary requirements; feeds for other species are not adequate nutrition and can be detrimental to your Chinchilla’s health.

You should always have money set aside in an emergency veterinary fund; set a minimum amount and never go under that. The only other alternative is to have a payment agreement in place with your veterinarian in case emergency care should become necessary.

Chinchillas can be very costly, very messy, very loud, and very demanding, please take these things in to consideration before bringing a Chinchilla in to your home.

Female Chinchillas can spray urine long distances with very accurate aim

Chinchillas are social animals and live in colonies in the wild but that doesn’t always mean two or more Chinchillas will live in perfect harmony. You should always be prepared for the possibility your Chinchillas will not live together peacefully and you should make sure you have cage space available for each should the need arise.

NEVER grab your Chinchilla by the tip or middle of the tail. To pick your Chinchilla up you should either scoop your hand under them and allow them to perch on your hand or you should quickly grab the BASE of the tail with one hand and cradle their body in your other hand or cradle their body in the crook of your arm. If you grab your Chinchilla by any portion of the tail other than the base they can detach the tail and it will not grow back. Likewise if you grab for your Chinchilla you may come up with nothing more than a large handful of slipped fur. In severe cases the fur sometimes doesn’t grow back so it’s important to learn the proper way to handle our Chinchilla to minimize damage to their coat as well as minimize their stress. If you allow your Chinchilla to perch on your arm or your shoulder, especially if you are in a standing position, it is a good idea to keep a firm but gentle grasp on the base of the tail so your Chinchilla doesn’t decide to jump off and injure themselves. They are very fast and accidents happen quite regularly in this situation if the owner is not prepared.

You must respect your Chinchilla’s boundaries and personality, and remember they depend on you to love them, care for them, feed them, and keep their habitat and their fur clean. If you understand these things and follow these guidelines you will have a long and happy life with your Chinchilla.
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