Owning a chinchilla
Chinchillas make great pets for older children or adults. If you are thinking about owning a chinchilla, here are some important things need to consider.
- Chinchillas should be handled daily from a young age. They also need to be handled carefully, as they can urine spray if frightened or slip their fur to escape if roughly handled. Use treats to encourage them to approach your hand in their own time and build up contact from that point.
- Chinchillas have very good hearing and can find loud or unexpected noises distressing, so don’t keep them in rooms that are too busy or where the volume is likely to be too high for them to feel comfortable.
- Chinchillas are very active, especially at dusk and in the early morning but need at least 12 hours sleep in the dark.
- Chinchillas like to jump and run and need lots of space and toys. They like to jump up and across, so beware of placing items too far apart, as they may injure themselves while attempting to leap towards them.
- Chinchillas need to be kept indoors and at a fairly regular temperature – avoid extremes which they find hard to adjust to.
- You should never bathe a chinchilla but they do love to have a dust bath which helps keep their fur and skin healthy. Provide a shallow tray with bathing sand weekly.
- Provide them with a nesting box or den where they can hide. It’s recommended to have one per chinchilla, as well as one large enough for several chinchillas to sleep together.
- They enjoy company and live in large groups in the wild. A male and female can be paired together but unless you intend to breed, the male should be neutered. All male or all female groups often work well too. Provide plenty of space for groups of chinchillas to reduce the chances of territorial aggression.
- It’s best to keep chinchillas away from the sight or sound of other pets that they may consider predators – such as cats or dogs.
- Provide lots of hay in different locations. Other foods can also be hidden inside hay to encourage them to eat enough fibre and also provides them with a welcome opportunity to forage.
- Introducing a new chinchilla isn’t always easy and needs to be done with care.
- Human companions can add a lot to a chinchilla’s life. Small children may find chinchillas hard to handle as they are so quick and active. An older child or adult will enjoy owning a chinchilla and observing their behaviours which include foraging as a group, grooming each other, running, digging, and taking sand baths in special bathing sand such as our Tiny Friends Farm Bathing Sand or Science Selective Bathing Sand.