Chinchillas as Pets
Should you have Chinchillas as pets? I just adore Chinchillas. They are so soft and furry. The one that I play with often is very friendly, if you stand by his cage he will come to the edge of the cage and sniff you. I stick my finger in and he nibbles on my nails.
But are chinchillas as a pet a good choice?
They are somewhat nocturnal animals (mainly active at dawn and dusk) and are very skittish. They are generally not good pets for younger children who would want to hold and cuddle their pet. The Chinchilla I know has been very well socialized with humans. But even then we don’t hold him and interaction is by his choice – not ours!
So I want to stress that it takes time, patience and regular interaction to tame a chinchilla and have a good relationship with it. You need to develop the relationship in small doses every day.
They can be kept as singles or in a same sex pair – so long as they are litter mates or introduced at a very young age. When choosing a sex I recommend a male as they are more even tempered.
Their natural habitat is in mountainous areas, for this reason it is important that their cage is tall enough to have a few levels in it. They like to run around and climb. They need some toys in their cage including a large hanging wheel (avoid mesh), hanging wooden toys, and some chew toys. Plastic should not be placed in the cage as they will chew on it and it is toxic in their digestive system.
Wire mesh is dangerous for chinchillas because chinchillas have small legs and feet that can become stuck easily. A chinchilla will chew its own leg of if it becomes stuck.
You should also provide an enclosure inside the cage so it has a place to hide and feel safe.
You should let the chinchilla out of its cage every day for 30-60 minutes. This time needs to be closely supervised as they are very active and inquisitive animals. It will chew electrical cords and get into other dangerous situations. So be sure to “baby proof” whatever room it is in. The evening is the best time to do this.
Your chinchilla will make a chirping sound to express itself.
A diet consisting of hay or hay pellets are essential. Apples, grapes, raisins, carrots, celery, sunflower seeds can be offered in small quantities as a treat.
Chinchillas need fresh water. I recommend a strong glass water bottle that is easy to clean.
Dust baths are the only way to bathe as water is not good for their coat. A dust bath should be provided in a container. It should be removed after a few minutes of rolling around. This needs to be done several times per week.
The cage should be kept in an area that is not too hot (not over 80F or 25C).
Chinchillas as Pets can be very rewarding. Properly cared for, it will live for 15 – 20 years and will become quite social with you.
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