Chinchilla Basics: A Primer on Chinchilla-Ownership
Charming Chinchillas - Is a Chinchilla Right for Me?
Are you ready to bring a chinchilla into your life? Chinchillas live on average for 15 years, so they are a very long term commitment. They need daily time out of the cage to exercise, and need very spacious cages so that they can exercise on their own time as well. While Chinchillas are odorless pets, they are not mess-free and can make quite a mess with their hay and dust baths.
Chinchillas in the Heat
Chinchillas need a temperature regulated environment, with their luxious coats heat stroke is a real risk for them. It's best to have your chinchilla in a temperature controlled environment, particularly during the hotter summer months.
Choosing Your Chinchilla
Do you have a lot of time or a little time? If you are planning on bringing a young chinchilla home, you should plan on spending a few hours each day to socialize them and get them acclimated to handling. Chinchillas are very high energy animals and need plenty of time to exercise. Otherwise, adopting a more mature chinchilla that is more mellow may be an easier place to start.
One Chinchilla or Two? Chinchillas are social, so if you have an opportunity to adopt a bonded pair they will appreciate the company of another chinchilla. Just be sure that your chinchillas are of the same gender, or are spayed/neutered!
Essential Chinchilla Accessories
You will need the following items for your chinchilla: A Suitable Habitat, Safe Bedding, A Dust Bath Container, Chinchilla Dust, Chinchilla Pellets, Timothy Hay, A Hay Rack, A Food Dish and a Water Bottle.
Your Chinchilla's habitat should be spacious and have multiple solid surface levels for them to hop and exercise on. You should minimally give your chinchilla five cubic feet of space, but more space is always better.
Your Chinchilla's Bedding should be made of a safe material. We recommend using recycled cardboard bedding like Carefresh. Never use Cedar or Pine bedding, as these can cause respiratory problems.
Your Chinchilla will need to take a dust bath to keep their coat in good shape. A dust bath should be stable enough not to roll when your chinchilla is rolling inside of it, and provide plenty of room for them to flip and play in their dust.
Chinchilla Dust is specifically made for chinchillas. We recommend getting a fine dust that won't leave grit in their coat. There are even scented dusts on the market to keep your chinchilla smelling nice.
Your Chinchilla's Pellets should be just pellets with no junk food mixed in. Chinchillas have a very delicate digestive system, and too many treats can cause serious problems. Mazuri makes a great chinchilla diet.
There is a variety of hay that is safe for chinchillas, but we recommend feeding Timothy Hay to adult chinchillas. This will aid in digestion and should be freely available to your chinchilla.
A hay rack can be made simply from anything that will hold your chinchilla's hay in one place.
Having a food dish that hangs on the side of the cage can be great for chinchillas, as they like to sit up and select pieces of food with their hands to eat rather then putting their face in the bowl.
We recommend using a gravity feed water bottle instead of a bowl, as chinchillas are very acrobatic and can easily upset a water dish.
Chinchilla Care: The Basic Routine
Your chinchilla should have some time out of the cage to stretch their legs and run daily. They are very high energy animals, and need plenty of room to get it out! Be sure to chinchilla proof cords and small areas that they can get stuck under, they are very bold explorers.
Spot cleaning your chinchilla's cage can keep everything clean and sanitary for them. Wipe down any dust from the levels and sweep up any stray poops to keep everything tidy.
Twice a week, your chinchilla will want access to their dust bath. We don't recommend leaving it in the cage as your chinchilla may also use it as a potty. Give your chinchilla about half an inch of dust in the bottom of their bath, and let them have it for twenty minutes to roll and groom their coat.
Empty out and replace your chinchilla's water bottle daily to keep harmful bacteria from growing inside.
Your Chinchilla can have free access to their pellets and should always have hay readily available in their cage.