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