Are you ready to bring home a chinchilla?
- Chinchillas live for upwards of 15 – 20 years. Are you ready to have a pet for that long?
- Have you located a well qualified exotic veterinarian and are willing to take him there if needed?
- Will you be able to provide your animal with a stress-free environment, where they can peacefully sleep during the day and get attention in the evenings or at night?
- Can you keep your pet in an environment under 76 degrees F at all times?
If you can answer YES to all of the above, then a chinchilla might be a great pet for you!
Before buying your chinchilla it is vital to do your research and become well-educated on their needs and proper care. Chinchillas are very low-maintenance animals and by following a few general guidelines, they can be a fantastic addition to your life.
It is critical to purchase animals from reputable breeders. Buying from a backyard breeder comes with many health risks. Backyard breeders don't have pedigrees, they don't attend shows and they don't know the genetic/health background of their chinchillas. Reputable breeders take great care to eliminate lines exhibiting any types of genetic health disorders, such as malocclusion, as well as animals exhibiting unwanted temperament issues such as biting or urine spraying.
Chinchillas should be fed fresh high quality chinchilla feed daily. Any feed six months past the milling date should be discarded. Recommended feeds are: Modesto Organic Chinchilla or Oxbow. All our chinchillas are fed Modesto Organic Chinchilla. If you choose to feed a different brand please switch over to the new feed over a period of at least three weeks. We recommend mixing ¼ new, ¾ old for 10 days, ½ new, ½ old for 10 days, and ¾ new, ¼ old for one week. This is especially important for babies and younger chinchillas. To help busy chinnie parents around the US, we now offer a monthly subscription box (ChillaBox) that includes Modesto Mills Organic Chinchilla Food, dust, hay, toy and a treat. ChllaBox has hassle-free, with safe products!
A fresh, high quality timothy hay or orchard grass should be fed daily.
A fresh supply of water should be available at all times. I use glass bottles that are easily cleaned and sterilized in the dishwasher. Filtered or bottled purified water is highly recommended.
Chinchilla safe treats should NEVER be given to a chinchilla under 6 months old.
Treats are a great way to win over your pet, but think of it like an Oreo cookie to a child, given in excess is a recipe for disaster and a laundry list of health issues! I recommend no more than two treats per day, which could be any of the following: plain shredded wheat, plain Cherrio, whole oats and rose hips. Chinchillas love raisins and goji berries, and it can be a special treat, but I would not recommend more than a few per week.
Chinchillas do not take water baths like most animals; however they do their own bathing in a special volcanic dust bath given 1 – 2 times per week. For me, watching my chinchillas take a dust bath is many times the highlight of my evening.
Kiln-dried pine or Aspen is recommended. NEVER use Cedar Shavings, they are toxic to chinchillas.
Chinchillas should never be kept in an environment that gets hotter than 75 degrees F. In an emergency situation, such as a power outage, you can place frozen water bottles and tile chillers in the cage to help keep them cool. If your chinchilla’s ears appear pink and blood vessels are bright red, you need to get them to a cooler environment immediately. An air conditioned car can be a quick safe haven if you lose power. NOTE: Chinchillas should never be placed in water.
Chinchillas cannot tolerate high humidity.
Creating A Safe Environment For Your Chinchilla
As a chinchilla owner, it is your responsibility to assure that your chinchilla is in the safest environment possible. Think of them like small children: if there is trouble to be found…guaranteed, eventually they will find it!
Below is a list of the basics to creating a chins-safe cage. There are countless scenarios, so common sense must also come into play.
- Use ½" x 1" wire if there are babies in the cage or a possibility of babies, otherwise 1" x 1" or 1" x 2" wire is acceptable.
- Use a solid bottom pan (I do not recommend wire floor cages, however if you do use them the maximum wire spacing should be ¼" x ¼").
- Use wood shelving, try to avoid any wire shelving (I do not recommend wire shelves, however if you do use them the maximum wire spacing should be ¼" x ¼").
- Make sure that your chinchilla has a hiding spot: fleece tubes and wood houses are ideal.
- Do not use wire hay racks. They are unsafe regardless of how they are installed.
- Do not use wire running wheels or plastic balls. A few highly recommended running wheels are the Chin Spin and Flying Saucer sold by Quality Cage Company.
- Make sure your chinchilla has plenty of safe wood to chew on for dental health, many woods are toxic to chinchillas, so be sure to do your research (this goes for the bedding as well – kiln dried pine shavings work great and are inexpensive). Cleaned and baked apple wood is highly recommended for chew toys.
- Make sure there is nothing plastic in the cage or within reach through the cage, which includes water bottles. Chinchillas will chew through and eat the plastic, which can create an intestinal blockage leading to emergency veterinary care or death.
When assessing your cage for safety, look at the cage and everything in it. If there is any doubt that an item may be unsafe, consider it unsafe and remove immediately, it’s never worth the risk!
NOTE: Don’t assume that an item being sold at a store with a picture of a chinchilla on it or claiming to be for chinchillas is safe. Always do your research first!