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Owning a chinchilla is not difficult! Here is my personal shopping list, created from the things I use daily! (Chinchilla Shopping List) Here are a few brief instructions that will make owning a chinchilla easier: 

  • Keep your chinchilla cool, below 70 degrees and away from a draft.
  • Give your chinchilla a large size cage.
  • Supply your chinchilla with superior food.
  • Be kind and gentle with your chinchilla!
  • Play with him every day
  • Let him out of his cage every day for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2 hours.
  • Give them good chew toys
  • Provide good water – no fluoride or chlorine!

The privilege of owning a chinchilla

Chinchillas are from South America found mainly in Peru and Argentina. These little fur balls love to leap and climb. As a pet, you will be amazed at the heights they jump during playtime. Chinchillas require a lot of exercise and lots of playful interaction with their owners. Since these animals are from mountainous regions, they are adapted to cool, non-humid air conditions. When having a chinchilla as a pet, it is mandatory that they have proper air-conditioning during the warmer seasons. We here at ChinchillaStuff.com have high humidity during summer months this is deadly to a chinchilla. A fan will not cool chinchillas. They do not sweat or pant like other animals so if you use a fan to try to cool them you will only be blowing hot air on them and creating more stress. Temps most comfortable for our pet chins are 64-72 leaning on the cooler side. Temps above 75 in combination with humidity will kill your loving pet. Wintertime most people keep their home at 68-72, and the air is drier; this is fine for the chinchilla.

Chinchillas are inexpensive.

Chinchillas are inexpensive to own the main investment of the chinchilla his cage (see my chin cage) and some accessories can range from a total of $200 to $350 on an average depending on the cost of the cage and of the chin. Chinchillas do not require shots, but please be sure there is a vet near you that can care for your chin if it should get sick or injured. Chinchillas live 15 to 20 yrs, and many are capable of reproducing up into their teens. The key to long life is to get your chinchilla from a reputable breeder who will assist you on your questions as needed, has pedigree information on your pet, and explains a proper diet for your chinchilla. There are a variety of foods on the market, and it is important that you know what to look for and avoid in chinchilla feeds. Breeders that have worked with chins for many years are best suited to explain a healthy diet. It is wise to follow exactly the diet that the breeder recommends since their herd has done well on this routine. Some breeders differ in the diet; this does not mean one is wrong over the other, it means this is what has worked best for them and their chins.

Chinchillas are very smart.

They learn their name in a short period of time; they recognize different people within the house. They will bond to the whole family but may still have a favorite. Chinchillas look at everything as fun and adventure. Always make a new experience positive, so your chin learns that it is always safe. Chinchillas are the “Boss.” They feel the need to always be in charge, respect this and your pet will love you all the more. Always expect more from your chin and you’ll get more! They can learn continually and have a long memory. Some chins are very trainable while others train you 🙂 .

Chewing

Chinchillas need to chew; their teeth grow throughout their life and hays, chew toys, good feed and filtered water all benefit the teeth.

Water

Water is a big concern because tap/city water contains chlorine and fluoride this blocks calcium absorption and can be poisonous to your chin. Well, water has softeners in which contain high amounts of sodium or potassium, these can kill your chinchilla. Purified bottled water, filtered water: filtered refrigerator water, reverse osmosis, carbon filtration systems or distilled are recommended. Some bottled water has sodium added so read your labels; nothing should be added.

Chinchilla feed

Chinchillas eat a specially formulated green pellet designed to fit their nutritional needs. Rabbit pellets should not be used one reason is the vitamin A content is higher, and the calcium is lower than what is needed to meet the needs of a chinchilla which can cause liver damage. Some countries can’t get chinchilla pellets and have substituted with rabbit pellets. This is true with guinea pig pellets also; they are designed to meet the needs of the guinea pig. Be sure to use a top quality chinchilla pellet only.

When shopping for good chinchilla food, you need to be aware of several things;

  1. First, the pellets should contain no corn. Corn, due to the way it is stored it can contain aflatoxins (fungus) that can kill your chinchilla. To research aflatoxins, you can check with the Dept. of Agriculture.
  2. Many feeds found in pet stores are medicated; your chinchilla doesn’t need this daily medication, and it can affect their health over time.
  3. Third, there should be an expiration date on the product. Most feeds have a 3 to 6-month shelf life after this time the nutritional value breaks down, and the food is no longer good.
  4. In our home, we use Oxbow pellets because we feel it is the best on the market for chinchillas. We get this feed shipped in fresh on a regular schedule. A chinchilla eats about two tablespoons of pellets daily; this is about 1.5 pounds per month. The average pet owner purchases 2lb every 4 to 5 weeks.

Hay

The diet is not complete without hay. Alfalfa and timothy hays are among the favorites used. Alfalfa is high in nutrition and highly valued for its protein and calcium content. Alfalfa hay is needed for nutrition and for fiber. The other benefit is for good chewing to help keep the teeth warn properly. Timothy hay is especially good for fiber and dental purposes. The Timothy hay and the alfalfa hay both have different textures this creates the chin to chew in different directions keeping the teeth worn more even. Both hays are found in loose bundles or in pressed cubes. The hays should be free of glue binders and pesticides.

Vitamins

We use a whole grain and seed blend that is fortified with vitamins and minerals, Seward’s Vitagrain Supplement. Our chinchillas each get one teaspoon of this product daily and find it to be their favorite part of feeding time. This makes a great bonding tool if you feed it to your new chin out of your hand. Never give more than the recommended amount even though they beg you for more!

If Liquid pet chinchilla vitamins are used instead of our Vitagrain Supplement, this should be added to the water, but it is mandatory that the water bottle gets scrubbed out daily to prevent bacterial growth in the water. A dirty water bottle can lead to bacterial growth that can cause illness and tooth loss in your pet. Always follow dose directions on the bottle.

Treats

Use good judgment on this. Read your labels. I only use natural products for my chins. Spoon size shredded wheat is loved by chins and safe for a daily treat. Other cereals contain BHA, BHT, Trisodium phosphate, sugar, salt, and colors, YECK! Read labels!!! The shredded wheat should not be the frosted or fruit filled type. An occasional unsalted, non-roasted, non-oiled sunflower seeds in the shell are great, or pumpkin seed is healthy and loved by chins. Unsweetened banana chip, ½ raisin, rose hips, unsweetened/unsulphered papaya are safe treats too. Peanuts are not a safe treat. Peanuts can be affected by aflatoxins like corn and should never be given to your pet. Too many treats will make your pet too full to eat the pellets needed in the diet to maintain good health so only one or two little treats daily.

Dust bath

There is one product that I consider safe and superior above all others! Blue Cloud Dust is what I personally use and is real volcanic ash. This is a soft absorbent natural product. Chinchillas in the wild roll in volcanic ash to keep their fur in top condition. A bath should be offered 2 to 3 times weekly for a 10 to 20 minute period. This same dust can be used through the week but should be thrown away at the end of the week. Thoroughly wash the container with a mild soap, such as dish soap rinse completely, dry and place the fresh dust for the week. Do not sift the dust and use for longer than one week. Bacteria will grow in the dust and can cause health problems for your pet. If the dustbin is left in the cage it will get used as a litter box and you will need to discard the dust. Ordinary sand is not suitable for bathing since it will not properly clean your chin and it will damage the beautiful fur there is also the risk of getting into your pet’s eyes or yours.

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