Chinchillas as Pets - Things you need to know about caring for pet chinchillas

Updated on February 24, 2016
Don't you want one?
Don't you want one?

Chinchillas.....as pets?

Chinchillas as pets - not the first thing you tend to think of when you hear the word "chinchilla". Chinchillas, renowned for their fur, are usually associated with expensive coats and accessories. But did you know you can have them as pets? Having a pet chinchilla is a very unique experience. They are perhaps the cutest creatures you can have as pets. They also require a lot of careful attention.

In this hub, I hope to go over the basics of chinchilla pet care, and let you know what you're in for if you choose to take care of this super cute critter.

A Chinchilla Cage for a Chinchilla Pet

Chinchillas are very energetic creatures and require a lot of space to run around. Therefore, a chinchilla cage should be at least 3' x 3' x 3'. You also want to have shelves for them to play on. Chinchillas need constant exercise, so you're gonna need an exercise wheel. When you get your exercise wheel, make sure it has a solid surface for the chins to run on, a wire surface could allow their feet to get stuck between the wires.

When it comes to bedding, never use pine or cedar shavings, as the oils from them are toxic to chinchillas. Use aspen or the Carefresh brand for bedding. Chinchillas have very sensitive feet, so make sure all the walking surfaces on the chinchilla's cage are smooth. Also, never cage another animal or a chinchilla of the opposite gender in the same cage.

And most importantly, keep the cage in a cool non-drafty part of the home that doesn't reach above 75°F. Chinchillas do not have sweat glands and can overheat easily, leading to heat stroke!

What Do They Eat? - Chinchilla Food

As pets, chinchillas eat a very limited option of food. Their diet basically consists of Timothy hay and food pellets, AND THAT'S IT! The only other food they can eat are dried fruits like raisins, and that's as a treat. The reason for their limited diet is their sensitive GI tract. Because of this, you shouldn't feed a chinchilla anything that isn't specifically suggested. Chins can't digest high protein foods (such as alfalfa grass), as well as fatty foods (such as nuts). Don't feed them fresh fruit and vegetables, as the high moisture content causes them to bloat, which can be fatal.
They also don't eat very much which makes it easy to overfeed them. To avoid this, have a loose hay in their cage which they can eat at any time.
Also, make sure they always have fresh water available to drink


A note about their teeth; they grow fast! Make sure they have a chew to toy, such as wooden sticks or pumice stones, (never something made from plastic) to chew on. This will keep their teeth from growing to long.

O.K., Bath Time! - Bathing a Chinchilla

NEVER, EVER WET YOUR CHINCHILLA!

But how do I give it a bath?

Dust!

Yes, chinchillas take something called dust baths, to cleanse themselves.What they do is roll around in special, pumice-based dust which absorbs all the dirt and oils from the chinchillas fur. Wet fur is bad fur. Since their fur is so dense, any water that reaches the skin can't air dry and becomes a breeding ground for fungus and fur rot. If your pet chinchilla ever becomes wet, dry it immediately with a towel or a non-heat dryer.

Failure to provide almost daily dust baths can result in matted,unruly fur and a very uncomfortable and unhappy chinchilla.

Oh, and never use sand for a dust bath

Great Guide to Taking Care of a Chinchilla

Keep Chillin'

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

So, how 'bout it?

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    • profile image

      Gabe 

      10 months ago

      I like chinchillas

    • profile image

      Nik 

      14 months ago

      I like chinchillas

    • profile image

      Kaylee 

      2 years ago

      Hi I'm thinking about getting a chinchilla for my birthday and this video helped me so much about knowing more about chinchillas and how to take care of them and I really appreciate it I just have one question can they sit on a dresser that is really high up or do they have to be on the ground about getting a chinchilla for my birthday and this video helped me so much about knowing more about chinchillas and how to take care of them and I really appreciate it I just have one question can they sit on a dresser that is really high up or do they have to be on the ground

    • profile image

      Lexie 

      4 years ago

      Thank you for the advice

      I was thinking about getting a chinchilla but I don't know they sound like a lot of work.

    • profile image

      Luca 

      5 years ago

      Great video

      I went to a friends house and after seeing your video I am positive to make this little creature happier by buying him a wheel he can run in

    • profile image

      emily 

      6 years ago

      what if i get a chinchilla and the flooring of the cage is a card board box and the housing part of it is wood and it they don't have any thing to jump on i really need to know about taking care of a chinchilla and how they reacte its ok if you put my name in your next video mabe getting mine for christmas or earlyer.

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