Do Chinchillas Groom Themselves Clean Like A Cat?

Do chinchilla groom themselves like cats

When I rescued Jasper, my chinchilla, he was a mess! He had been living in a small plastic dog carrier, inside a van with a woman who smoked. Jaspers fur was dingy looking. He was my first chinchilla so I wasn’t really sure how to groom him. I mean was he going to be like a cat and clean himself? Here is what I quickly learned about my new friend Jasper.

As I was soon to learn, Chinchillas DO NOT clean themselves like cats! Well not exactly! Chinchillas will groom themselves somewhat, but to properly clean their fur and skin they need a dust bath. Chinchillas should be given a dust bath at least once a week. I give my chinchilla a dust bath one to three times a week depending on how much I handle him and how high the humidity is. Too many dust baths and his/her skin can become dried out causing scratching and dry patches.

Chinchillas are popular pets because of their shiny and full coat, which calls for regular cleaning. In order to clean and maintain a chinchilla’s coat, dust baths should be administered regularly. A pet chinchilla rolling in the dust as it grooms itself is truly a sight to behold (and another good reason chinchillas are popular pets). A chinchilla rolling around in the dust is also a good indication that it’s healthy.

The Proper Way to Groom Your Pet Chinchilla

If you own a pet Chinchilla, you have to administer dust baths regularly to keep it clean. Remember, chinchillas do dust baths by instinct. They do it every day in the Andes Mountains, which is their natural habitat. By rolling on a layer of volcanic ash, chinchillas can get rid of the all the dirt and oils that accumulate in their fur.

Instinctual Needs

A chinchilla needs dust baths also to satisfy an instinctual need. Chinchillas that don’t get the chance for dust baths are prone to stress. If the fur stays matted and greasy for a long time, the body of the chinchilla can get overheated. During warm climates, it’s imperative that dust baths are administered for 10 minutes every other day. When it’s cold, bi-weekly dust baths should be enough. Also, if you’re worried about the dust from flying around every time the chinchilla rolls around in it, you can fix the problem by covering the cage with sheets.

If your chinchilla rarely gets dry, it’s perfectly okay to give them daily dust baths. This is because they gather more dirt and grease on account of them always roaming around. If you’re in doubt, you can consult a vet on whether it’s perfectly fine to give your chinchillas daily dust baths.

Keep your chinchilla away from cigarette smoke.

The tar from cigarette smoke can easily accumulate on a chinchilla’s fur. And this can be troublesome to the creature since it is prone to licking its fur every chance it gets. The tar provides health risks for your pet chinchilla. If your pet gets exposed to cigarette smoke, administer a wet bath to get rid of the harmful chemical.

Watery Eyes?

It’s also important to observe if your pet chinchilla has watery eyes during dust baths for it’s a sign that it might have pneumonia or some form of respiratory problem. This might have been caused by chemicals, which can be dealt with by wiping the creature’s nose. If symptoms still persist, it’s high time that you consult a veterinarian.

Massages

If your pet chinchilla still doesn’t take the initiative to take dust baths, you can give it a massage until it gets the hang of it. If that doesn’t do anything, it’s possible that the creature might be suffering from an injury, and in such a case, it’s best that you take it to the veterinarian. Or it might just be the heavy texture of the dust, so try buying a chinchilla dust that is lighter in texture.

Best-Chinchilla-Dust-Bath-PracticesJust Like In Nature!

If you want to provide dust baths for your pet chinchilla, it’s important that you buy the bath dust that’s specifically made for chinchillas. The “chinchilla dust” that can be bought from pet stores have the same physical properties as the dust that these creatures use in the Andes Mountains when they groom themselves. This type of dust can get deep into the coat of the chinchilla and can seep into its skin.

How it works

The dust comes in contact with all the accumulated dirt and oil and once the dust is shaken off, so are all the dirt and the oil. It is recommended that the bath dust should at least be a couple of inches deep in the container in order for the bathing to be more effective.

Types of Dust

There are many types of chinchilla dust to choose from, with the “Blue Cloud Chinchilla Dust” and the “Blue Sparkle Chinchilla Dust” being the most popular ones. I do not recommend any dust with added “sparkles.” Chinchilla dust is specifically manufactured in a way that will make the chinchillas feel that they’re in their natural habitat.

There is also Chinchilla Sand, which is simply just a coarse version of the dust., made from the exact same volcanic ash. I use both but use Blue Cloud Dust the most.

Container

As for the container to be used, make sure that it’s bigger than the chinchilla. A smaller one runs the risk of getting tipped over, which will be quite messy what with all the dust. Glass fish bowls or big canisters should do the job. If you can spare the money, a plastic house type container with a round bottom should be more than capable of providing a good “bath house” for your pet chinchilla.

Don’t Over Bath

And here’s a fair warning: avoid over-bathing your pet chinchilla lest the creature’s skin becomes too dry. The only good reason to administer more dust baths than is usually necessary is when the climate is hot and humid. Twice a week is the norm when it comes to frequency of dust baths. Also, make sure that dust is cleared away from the cage since chinchillas are prone to using it as a litter box. The ideal time for dust bathing chinchillas is during the evening when they are most active.

If you notice, however, that your pet chinchilla’s fur looks lackluster and moist, you are justified in giving it more than twice a week of dust baths. Each dust bath should last for only 10-15 minutes – nothing more, nothing less. Cut back on the amount of dust baths if you start to notice some drying and flaking.

When To Replace The Dust

The bath dust you purchase from the store can be used several times until it gets dirty enough. You can use a duster to remove the waste that accumulates in the dust particles after repeated use. Once the dust particles get a deeper color, that’s the time when you need to replace it with a new serving of dust.

Final Thoughts

You might fancy the thought of using a covered bath, but it really won’t make much of a difference because chinchillas love to stamp and roll around, thereby kicking off the dust in many different places. As long as you always use a duster and continue to give your pet chinchilla dust baths on a regular basis, your furry little friend will always be fine.

Keeping your chinchilla fresh and clean isn’t only good for its hygiene; it’s also helpful to their overall well-being. That’s why it’s every chinchilla owner’s responsibility to give their chinchillas regular dust baths.

Preventing Chinchilla Environmental Stress

Preventing Chinchilla Environmental Stress

Environmental stress can distress your chinchilla in many different ways. This type of stress results in either behavioral or health concerns. Your pet can experience the following: anti-social behavior that comprises of biting, fighting, spraying urine, fungus, or irritation of the eyes. Your pet can also feel anger towards other chinchillas, biting the fur, gnawing on their cage or even depression.

 

Transition Time

Giving your pet this transition time is essential and very important because if they came from chaotic surroundings, they would have to learn to unwind and if they came from boredom surroundings, they must have time to settle in to handle noise in a timely manner.

Like any other animal, a chinchilla has its own needs that should be addressed, both physically and psychologically. Some extensive research should be made in order to learn the type of food they need to eat, the living conditions they are comfortable with, and more.

Cage

When it comes to a pet chinchilla’s home, make sure that the cage used to keep the chinchilla is big enough for the creature to move around in.

Exercise

Pet chinchillas require regular exercise and recreation. You can place an exercise wheel inside the cage so that the chinchilla can do some physical exercises whenever they feel the need. Pent-up emotions that aren’t released contribute to a stressed chinchilla and will be bad for the little animal’s overall health.

Vacation

Some time away from the cage (not less than 30 minutes a day) is also needed in order to satisfy the animal’s roaming instincts.

Toys

Throw in some chew toys, and your pet chinchilla can keep itself occupied whenever it’s feeling bored. The cage should also be closed up when no one’s around in order to give the chinchilla a sense of security.

Changes

Pet chinchillas don’t adjust really well to change. It’s in their nature.

New living conditions, a new owner, interaction with other chinchillas – all these things need to be done gradually so as not to shock the chinchilla. Sudden or drastic changes in the creature’s environment can easily lead to stress.

A pet chinchilla can feel overwhelmed by what’s going on around them.

Yes, Your Chinchilla Can Die From Stress!

The severe stress that comes with the outpouring of unfamiliar and threatening stimuli may even lead to death. The effects can be gradual, so it’s imperative for any chinchilla owner to monitor the temperament of his pet every chance he gets. Chinchillas that are always hyperactive are the ones prone to stress-related shock.

Chinchillas are creatures of routine, which is why they don’t respond well to new situations and new stimuli.

They have a capacity for coping up and adjusting, but only in small doses. Temperament to change can vary from chinchilla to chinchilla, though health and age can have some influence. Older chinchillas also tend to become more territorial than the younger ones, which is why they have a tendency to bite other chinchillas whenever it feels that its supposed territory is invaded.

To give your pet chinchilla a sense of well-being, you have to introduce new types of stimuli to keep it amused.

Other than chew toys and an exercise wheel, you can place it in front of the television or even play some music. This will be enough to keep your pet entertained. But if your beloved chinchilla still shows signs of boredom and stress, make some adjustments until a change in temperament for the better is made apparent. The key is to be patient and observant about your pet’s behavioral patterns.

Chinchilla Temperature – Keeping chins cool in the summer

Chinchilla Temperature

The chinchilla in the wild has adapted to live in a rugged terrain, where nightly and winter temperatures may drop well below freezing.

Being crepuscular/nocturnal creatures by nature, during the day when temperatures may rise, they may rest amongst rocks, boulders, fissures and “scrapes,” which would shelter them from the extremes of temperature.

A pet chinchilla should be kept in a safe and clean environment where the temperature and humidity are controlled. Temperatures higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit are already too hot for the animal, and the humidity level should also not go beyond 80 percent. If these conditions are not met, the chinchilla can suffer from heat stroke and even from a heart attack.

 

The Chinchilla’s Fur

Anyone who wishes to take care of a chinchilla should know the basic things about the animal. One of these is the fact that the chinchilla has the thickest fur among all animals on land. Although this keeps them safe in a cold and harsh outdoor environment, it can become quite a problem in an environment that is hot and cramped.

Using an Air Conditioning Unit

Pet owners who want to take care of a chinchilla should highly consider using an air conditioning unit for their pet. This will make sure that the desired temperature is maintained and will, therefore, keep the animal from suffering any stress or dangers caused by too much heat. It will also be best if the air conditioner has an auto function that lets it turn off by itself once the desired temperature is reached. Not only will this save on energy, but it will also help create a controlled environment for the chinchilla where the animal can feel relaxed and comfortable.

Fans

Chinchilla owners may be tempted to just use a fan instead of an air conditioning unit. While a fan is good to have around the chinchilla so that the cold air may be circulated, it may not be enough to keep the desired level of temperature that a chinchilla needs for it not to feel stressed.

Use a Thermometer

Those who want to make sure that they have the right level of temperature for their pet chinchilla should have a room thermometer handy. This will make it easier to keep track of and monitor the heat and will be an effective way of keeping your pet chinchilla safe. Similarly, an instrument that measures humidity should also be used, especially if the chinchilla is kept in a closed space such as the basement. These precautions will save much headache and stress, not only for the chinchilla but for the chinchilla owner as well.

Taking Care of Your Pet Chinchilla

If your pet chinchilla still suffers from too much heat and humidity, you should be able to tell the signs and respond right away. The chinchilla will often lie on its side with its chest moving erratically due to labored breathing. This condition is referred to as heat prostration and is a sign that the animal is suffering from too much heat or humidity.

When this happens, pick the chinchilla up very carefully and try to keep it moving so that it does not surrender to the heat stroke. Of course, while this is happening, make sure that adjustments to the temperature and humidity are already being made to make the environment more ideal for the animal. Putting the chinchilla in the chiller or even the freezer is also a good idea, but make sure that you keep all foods out of the way and that there is a layer of clothing between the freezer itself and the chinchilla – DO NOT LEAVE HIM IN THE FREEZER! Use Common Sense

 

 

How Does Exercise Effects Chinchillas

How Exercise Effects Chinchillas

The chinchilla is a very special exotic animal. It is nocturnal, has the thickest fur among all land animals, and is also very sensitive to high levels of heat and humidity. However, like all other animals that are used to being in the wild, the chinchilla is also one that needs constant exercise. While this may appear to be common sense, many chinchilla owners take this for granted.

Exercise and Stress

Chinchillas that are not able to get the right amount of exercise will be under a certain amount of stress. Sometimes, the chinchilla will show signs of irritability and will not appreciate anyone who tries to come near them. Other times, they can even turn hostile and bite or scratch both the people and the other chinchillas around them. It is also a common sign of stress for the chinchilla to bite its own fur, and even to spray urine all over itself and its surroundings. If you want to avoid these problems, make sure that you give your pet chinchilla the right amount of exercise every day.

Chinchillas and Obesity

Another reason why the chinchilla should be given proper exercise on a regular basis is for it not to become too fat or obese. Many animals being kept as pets suffer from this condition, and the chinchilla is no exception. No matter how healthy and regulated your chinchilla’s foods are, regular exercise is still necessary for it to be healthy and to live a long life.

Taking the Chinchilla for a Walk

It is fairly easy to provide exercise for the chinchilla. Because the animal is small, a walk that would normally have to be done outdoors can simply be done at home provided that there is a wide enough space. Allow the chinchilla to get out of the cage at least once a day. Of course, this needs to be accompanied by constant supervision to make sure that the chinchilla does not get into any harm or trouble.

By letting your pet chinchilla outside of its cage, you will already know how it has been treated in its past home. A chinchilla that is used to exercise will move actively about while a chinchilla that has been kept in the cage will move at a slower, unsure pace. The chinchilla is a naturally hyperactive animal. It is only right that the animal is allowed its moment of freedom at least once a day.

Exercise in the Cage

If you think that you have limited space inside the home and are afraid to take your pet chinchilla outside, an exercise wheel inside the cage will also work perfectly. The chinchilla can get its much-needed exercise anytime it wants, and it will be in a safe environment too. The chinchilla naturally knows what its body needs, so providing it with the right equipment is enough on your part as a chinchilla owner.

Love Your Chinchilla

Making sure that your pet chinchilla has the right amount of exercise that it needs is just one of the ways that you show how much you truly love your pet. Having a chinchilla is a serious commitment and it is not something that you just forget after all the excitement wears off. If you truly love your pet chinchilla, take it out regularly and make sure that it gets enough exercise so that it lives a long and healthy life.

How to Discipline Your Pet Chinchilla

How to Discipline Your Pet Chinchilla

Chinchillas are not receptive when you verbally rebuke, hit, or spank them in a fit of anger. The physical actions can cause wounds and abscessing. The physical actions don’t serve a purpose because your pet already has a sensitive body. Chinchillas are already fearful and chewing them out verbally will do nothing but worsen the condition.

The negative verbal actions are not effective at all. Since they are fearful, when their owner treats them as such, they start to feel withdrawn and stressed out. Like a human, they can feel your hostility and anger. In turn, they will become more defensive. You should never blow in their face to punish them. The germs from your air can transmit onto them. They are susceptible to catching a virus, the cold or the flu.

When a chinchilla gets hostile, they will spray urine. They are acting out on their need to withdraw. They still feel defensive, and you may not know why. The withdrawals won’t start until the root cause of it is revealed. When the owner finds out what the problem is, the pet will feel better and can be safe in their habitat. They will definitely make a change when they sense that you are not trying to put them down (degrade).

The Proper Way

The key to being able to discipline a pet chinchilla is actually showing genuine care, compassion and fondness for it. As a response, the chinchilla will be more accepting, calm and obedient. If the exotic pet does happen to do things you’d prefer it not to, a stern warning is sufficient. A firm ‘No’ is the best thing to do to discipline a pet chinchilla. However, it would be wise not to overuse the word as it will push the pet into a sensitive or protective state.

Some owners will really have trouble in getting in the habit of saying ‘No’ as there are chinchillas with no particular personalities. These chinchillas are quite vocal and tend to be harsh, abrasive and/or moody. Chinchillas can and will know when their owner’s mood has settled down and has stopped being hostile. Once they are sure that no harm is intended for them, they will gradually warm up and learn to approach the owner again.

As long as you show your pet genuine love, concern and compassion, they will respond to you with a more accepting reaction. When you give them a warning, do it in a stern, but loving manner. Don’t get in the habit of just saying “no” all the time. Doing this will just take your pet back to square 1. That’s not a good idea. On the other hand, there are some chinchillas that have no personality and tend to be harsh, abrasive or moody. These kinds of pets are very vocal.

Too Withdrawn or Hostile

Should a pet chinchilla be already withdrawn due to negligence or abuse, it is best to have its behavior rehabbed. Rehabilitation is often either instructed or performed by a veterinary expert. As an owner, you will have to be mature about the situation and be extra loving and careful of the exotic animal. Being calm, non-threatening and patient is a must in helping rehabilitate and discipline a pet chinchilla.

When Disciplining Goes Awry

Chinchillas are naturally wary, fearful and fidgety; heightened voice tones and negative vibes could escalate their fear quickly. If treated in such a way, chinchillas will withdraw, avoid the owner, and become extremely stressed out. Like humans, pets like chinchillas are aware of heightened emotions like anger and hostility. In reaction to it, they will become defensive and overprotective. Abusive means used to discipline a chinchilla will only most likely result in a rebellious pet. Chinchillas are known to spray urine at their target when hostile.

Owners who are not abusive (verbally or physically) that get sprayed on don’t often know where such behavior comes from. There is, however, always a root cause for such animal behavior and will most likely have something to do with falling short of the pet’s needs. In the chinchilla’s case, the issue would be safety.

You have to be very mature to take care of an exotic animal such as a chinchila. Justchinchilla that you have to be calm, calm and non-threatening. You also have to have patience because changes just don’t happen immediately. You’ll have to look past it and do your part to help in the transformation. The chinchilla is scared and they may pretend to be threatening, but they’re really not. You must continue to love them, be compassionate, tender, continuously giving them reassurance and lots of warmth. In time, they will change to the loving pet chinchilla you want them to be.

 

Tips You Can Learn Today To Help Your Chinchilla A Lifetime

Tips You Can Learn Today To Help Your Chinchilla A Lifetime

I’m sitting here watching Jasper jump and play, and I remembered back when I first brought him home. I didn’t know a single thing about this new little life I was about to be responsible for. I researched and learned everything I possibly could so that I could give him a healthy, happy home. What follows is some of the things I have learned about chinchillas.

Chinchilla Quick Fact Guide:

  • Average life expectancy is between 10-20 years. The oldest Chinchilla I have heard of was 27-29 years old.
  • Chinchillas on average weight from 550grams -1000grams.
  • Chinchillas can jump at least 3 feet high.
  • Chinchillas have very dense fur. Their environment must be kept under 75 degrees. They can overheat and die in warmer temperatures.
  • Chinchillas should be housed indoors. Also, many people ask if chinchillas can be walked on a leash. The answer is no. They can easily slip out of pet harnesses. Remember chinchillas are mostly fur and you can not tighten the harness enough for them.
  • Chinchillas do not take water baths instead they take dust baths. They roll in the dust bath to keep their fur clean of oils. Dust baths should be given at least two times a week or as needed. Use about a tablespoon or more per chinchilla.
  • Their teeth grow continuously throughout their lifetime. It is very important that they have wooden toys or pumice stones to help wear their teeth down.
  • Use caution with toys: Run around balls are not a good way to have your chinchilla exercise. They can overheat in them causing a heat stroke. Wheels are great for a chinchilla, but you need to be careful which type you chose. Wheels should be solid (no wire) and fit securely to the cage. Not
    all toys in the pet store are safe. Please use good judgment when purchasing toys.
  • Chinchillas are nocturnal. They sleep during the day and are awake at night. Bedrooms are not always the best place to house a chinchilla for this reason.
  • Cage location is also a very important aspect. The cage should not be located under a window or direct sun light. The cage should not be under an AC vent or in any other drafts.

Chinchillas need a good diet to maintain their health.

  • Fresh Pellets: There are three that is superior above all others and that’s  Oxbow essentials, APD-Alffy Pellets (American Pet Diner) and Mazuri pellets. Please do not feed a chinchilla any type of small animal food. They need a diet that is made specifically for them.
  • Hay: Chinchillas love their hay. You can feed hay either loose or in cubes. Alfalfa and Timothy are great choices. Which hay depends on one what kind of feed you will use. For example, if you use the Kline diet, you will need alfalfa hay if you use Mazuri pellets you would need timothy hay.
  • Water: Chinchillas need a constant supply of water just like any other animal. Filtered water is best it eliminates bacteria and sediment from the water.
  • Healthy treats include rose hips, raisins, dried papaya, plain mini-wheats, cheerios, loose hay (orchard grass, oat hay, bluegrass), and dried cranberries. Do not feed your chinchilla fresh fruits or vegetables this can upset their stomachs or make the bloat.

Chinchillas are treat monsters. You must be careful when giving treats. Too many treats can cause health problems later on in life. Chinchillas can be given treats once they are 6mo old, no sooner. If you give the treats to young, it will upset their stomachs. Give treats very sparingly once or twice
a week. When giving treats only give two small pieces. When serving loose hay as a treat just give one small hand full.

So what is a chinchilla?

Chinchillas are a nocturnal animal of the rodent family; a male is referred to as a buck and a female as a doe. They are about 25 centimeters high and have large, thin ears shaped like those of a mouse, and long whiskers. Their general body shape is similar to that of a rabbit, and they have long back feet like a rabbit; their front legs are shorter, and their paws can be used as ‘hands’; their long furry tail is similar to a squirrels tail. On a standard chinchilla the body fur, which is beautifully soft and thick, is grey; but they are available in a variety of colors including black, beige, blue-grey, brown and white.

There are three varieties of chinchilla – Chinchilla Brevicaudata, Chinchilla Lanigera, and Chinchilla Costina.

Brevicaudatas were found at higher elevations (approx. 15,000 feet), they are larger animals, with a blunter nose and shorter ears and tails, pure Brevicaudatas show a brownish hue to their coats, and have more docile temperaments.

Costinas were found closer to sea level; they are smaller animals with a more pointy head and body, and longer ears and tails. Costinas are credited for contributing the blue hue found in a chinchillas fur; they are more highly strung than Brevicaudatas.

Lanigeras were found at approx 10,000 feet, their size and their characteristics fall midway between the Brevicaudata and Costina, and their original color ranged from bluish grey to a brownish color. The Lanigera is the domesticated chinchilla which is featured on these pages.

Where did they come from?

Chinchilla-Facts-You-Need-To-Know

Chinchillas originally lived in South America in the Andes mountains, where they have been observed living in colonies at heights of up to 15,000 feet. When the Spanish pioneers discovered chinchillas in the 1500’s, they named them ‘chinchillas’ after the Chincas, who together with the Incas were one of the native people of South America.

Wild chinchillas live in colonies of up to 100 animals; most live in burrows however some make their home in crevices among rocks.

Unfortunately, wild chinchillas have become an endangered species. They were once found in Peru and Bolivia, but are extinct in those parts now, however populations of Chinchilla Lanigera can still be found in parts of northern Chile. In the past, they have also been found in the northwestern parts of Argentina.

Hunted

Chinchilla-Facts-You-Need-To-Know-2

The chinchilla was hunted to near extinction in the early 1900’s, and most of the chinchillas in the United States today are descendants of 11 animals brought to California in 1923. These animals plus their descendants were bred for their pelts.

Over the space of 40 years pelting farms spread across the USA – many such farms still exist, and sadly even today chinchillas are bred in large numbers for the fur trade both in the USA and elsewhere. At least 100 pelts are required to make one coat, and in 1992, a domestic chinchilla fur coat on sale at Elan Furs (Indianapolis, Indiana) cost $22,000. A wild chinchilla fur coat would have been more expensive! Chinchillas have also been used for medical research, but today they are also kept as pets.

The picture on the right is reproduced with the kind permission of Alecia who owns the copyright. The beautiful woman posing in front of the monitor is Iris – I don’t know the name of the animal wearing the dead chinchillas!

A quick word on chinchilla clubs

There are those who advise members of a chinchilla club/society to benefit from the information they can send to members, however, some chinchilla societies are pelting organizations. Examples of American societies which are pelting organisations are the Mutation Chinchillas Breeders Association (MCBA) whose stated purpose is to “provide instruction on the humane care of chinchillas in their production and to help commercially market and promote all types of chinchilla pelts and products”; and Empress whose stated purpose is to promote “breeding of chinchilla for production and processing of chinchilla fur”. An example of a chinchilla club that does not support pelting is a British club, The National Chinchilla Society – the NCS accepts overseas members.

In my opinion, good information regarding the care of chinchillas does exist and does not *have* to be obtained by joining pelting organizations. To join such an organization is to support it, i.e., to support the breeding of a chinchilla, which will live a short life before being killed and made into an item of clothing. Therefore before joining an organization, you may wish to check whether that organization is involved in pelting – if it is then it may be preferable to look elsewhere.

Other than joining a chinchilla club there are many good websites containing detailed and accurate information regarding chinchillas – after browsing a few, I’m sure most novice chinchilla owners will be able to discern which sites are best to use as a reference. Forums are also a good source of information, for example the British forum Chinchillas Unlimited (no longer active) has many members from around the world sharing their knowledge, and there are more than a few experts present to give advice to those needing it – the only thing asked in return is that visitors to the forum are polite when posting replies as young members are also present on the forum.

 

 

Things To Consider If Your Wanting A Chinchilla As A Pet

chinchilla-as-a-pet

So why choose a chinchilla as a pet?

With such a large choice of pets around why choose a chinchilla? Maybe because you perceive them as cute and think they will not take up too much space? Below are the reasons for buying, or not buying, a chinchilla

Reasons you may not want to buy a chinchilla

  • You don’t have time to dedicate to him/her
  • You want an animal you can cuddle and pet – most chinchillas are not keen on being picked up/cuddled
  • You intend to always keep them in the cage and never let them run free (indoors) – chinchillas may be small, but they can be quite energetic, they need to exercise
  • You have small children. While this doesn’t mean you can’t have a chinchilla, they are not considered suitable as pets for children under 12
  • You don’t think you’ll have the time/patience to slowly win their trust – chinchillas can be extremely timid when they do not know you.
  • They don’t come when you call them (and they can’t fetch either).
  • They can’t scare away a burglar.
  • They poop whenever and wherever.
  • They like antique furniture (to chew).

Reasons you may want to buy a chinchilla

  • You have sufficient space for a good size cage, and you have the time to spend with them and supervise their playtimes
  • They are adorable and gentle creatures.
  • They require little attention, but they appreciate attention when shown to them.
  • They keep themselves very clean. In fact, they have no odor.
  • Their fur is so thick that fleas and ticks can’t live on them.
  • They are quiet.
  • They are easy to care for and can be left alone over a weekend.
  • Their food is very inexpensive (only about $1.20 per month).
  • They are nocturnal, so they are ready to play when you get home from work.
  • Many people who are allergic to most animals are not allergic to Chinchillas.
  • They are smart, curious and extremely entertaining.
  • Both you (and any children you have) will understand a small animals nervousness and will be gentle and patient
  • You are looking for a small pet which may enjoy a long lifespan (with some luck and your loving care)
  • You want a pet which will be happy left at home alone all day while you at work
  • You want a reasonably intelligent pet which can think for itself and has its own unique character
  • You have fallen in love with their gentle and inquisitive natures
  • You enjoy watching a chinchilla’s playful antics

Chinchillas and allergies

Most allergic reactions to animals are caused by an immune reaction to a protein found in the saliva, the dander (skin flakes), or the urine of an animal. Of these three, in the case of chinchillas, the urine is most likely to cause a reaction.

It does appear that the vast majority of people will not be allergic to chinchillas. I myself am allergic to cats, dogs, horses, and probably a few other animals as well, however, chinchillas do not appear to affect me – however, I have heard of a few people who do suffer a reaction. The hay (which the chinchillas should be supplied with), or their dust baths may also cause an allergic reaction.

Points to consider if you may be allergic:

  • Before buying a chinchilla try handling one. If you suffer an allergic reaction then you know it will affect you
  • Use chinchilla bath sand instead of dust to decrease airborne dust
  • Use hay cubes rather than loose hay to reduce airborne allergens
  • When buying loose hay, look for hay that says ‘Dust Extracted.’
  • Consider using a wire-bottomed cage with a pull out litter pan rather than have a cage with a solid bottom. Instead of the dust and allergens sitting in the bottom of the cage where the chinchillas will disturb them, they will collect below the cage where they will be undisturbed
  • Use newspaper in the cage/litter tray instead of wood shavings

 

Chinchillas and other animals

Many people who own chinchillas also keep cats or dogs and experience no problems. However, chinchillas can become stressed by other animals, for example, dogs nosing around the cage and barking at them, or cats trying to reach them. You need to judge for yourself how existing pets will react.

While it may not be a good idea to have dogs or cats in the room while a chinchilla is running free, many chinchillas will enjoy the company of a guinea pig.

Having said this, it has been known for other animals, e.g., dogs rabbits, etc. to pass on a disease they are carrying to chinchillas. While the disease may not affect the other animal, it can affect the more sensitive chinchilla. One example of such a disease is Bordatella.

 

Chinchilla Q & A

What do chins eat?
What other treats could I give my chin?
What type of cage should I get?
What is in a chinnie’s cage?
How much can I expect to spend on my first chin?
What about exercise?
Can I use a ferret leash on my chin?
What do you have against those exercise balls, anyway?
Can a chinchilla really die from being too hot?
What’s this I hear about chinnies and water?
What if my chinchilla gets abnormally dirty or gets wet by accident?

What do chins eat?
In all honesty, it depends on whom you ask. Different chin owners feed their chins different diets. A better question for me to answer is what do our chins eat! Our chins are given a constant supply of Mazuri pellets to eat throughout the day. They also have alfalfa cubes to chew on, though none of our chins seem to be particularly fond of cubed hay. In the evenings, they are given 1/2 teaspoon of rolled oats, a generous helping of timothy hay, and a treat. Treats can be a variety of things. We generally have raisins, bite-sized shredded wheat squares, horse cookies, and almonds. Once a week, each chin gets a small piece of dried papaya, rosehips, and a chewable Vitamin C. These are given in place of the traditional treats. Occasionally, we give Nutri-Cal in addition to a treat. Pregnant females are given calf manna, raspberry leaves, and an extra bottle full of cranberry juice and water.

(Top)

What other treats could I give my chin?
Dried cranberries, plain Cheerios, dried apples, prunes, a half of a fresh or frozen grape, very small pieces of fresh or dehydrated banana, unsalted peanut in the shell, uncooked pasta… The list goes on! Remember, everything in moderation.

(Top)

What type of cage should I get?
We have several different styles and sizes of cages for our chins. We started off with the wrong type of cage for our first chin. Of course, this can easily happen when you buy a cage from a pet store that has no real knowledge of what a chin needs. After doing even more research on chinchillas and cages, we quickly stopped using the original cage and got a new one. As a general rule, you should use a cage with wire flooring no bigger than ½” by ½,” if you have wire flooring at all. We recommend cages be at least 16″ (width) by 16″ (depth) by 16″ (height) for one chin. However, even bigger is definitely better! Having a slide-out pan can also save a great deal of time and prevents your chins from being in direct contact with the bedding or litter. If you are using a wire cage, it is important to provide solid surfaces for your chin to rest. This can be done with pine shelves and ledges or marble tiles, which also provide an excellent means for your chin to cool down. We recommend the  Midwest Deluxe Critter Nation Many people find that they can build their own wonderful chinchilla cages from a combination of melamine, pine, and wire. We just haven’t the time nor the energy.

Our Chinchilla Cages

 

(Top)

What is in a chinnies cage?
Once again, that depends on the chin. We use and recommend Choco Nose No Drip Top-fill water bottles, and Living World Lock and Crock Dish. Each cage has a pine box for hiding and chewing. Each of our chins has pine blocks, lava rocks, pumice, and a few other toys to chew on. Chewing is very important for a chin’s health, as it helps to keep their teeth trim. Many of our chins have their own special stuffed Booda buddy. A few of the chins have cuttlebone. They all have ledges and levels to add to the fun of their cage. Chins like to jump and climb! Bedding or litter is also necessary. We use Living World Pine Shavings, which are inexpensive, softer on chin feet, and safe.

 

(Top)

How much can I expect to spend on my first chin?
These amounts are low approximations for essential chinchilla supplies for one month. The actual price will vary depending upon the amount spent for any shipping and handling charges, buying in bulk to save future expenses, electing to purchase for different places or purchase different supplies, etc. This also does NOT include the cost of the chinchilla! You should expect to spend between $75 and $500 for a chinchilla, depending on color, background, age, etc.  Please consider adopting a chinchilla from a rescue rather than a pet store!

  • Cage
  •  Bedding
  • Water bottles
  • Food dish
  •  Food
  •  Hay
  •  Treats
  •  Toys
  • Bathhouse – Kaytee Chinchilla Bath House
  • Dust – Kaytee Chinchilla Dust

Your approximate total cost would be in the area of $181 for supplies alone.

Other items you may wish to purchase right away or could need in the future are listed below.

  • Ledges
  • Exercise Wheel
  •  Cuttlebone
  •  Nutri-Cal
  • Chewable Vitamin C
  • Calf Manna Supplement
  •  Oats
  •  Brush
  • Pine house
  • Chin-Chiller

Chinchillas are not inexpensive animals to care for. A great deal of time and money must be invested to ensure chinnies have happy, healthy homes and proper care.

(Top)

What about exercise? Can I use a ferret leash on my chin?
While we would never use a leash on a chinchilla, chins do require exercise. Large cages with enough room to run around and play will certainly help, but nothing beats having playtime! Chin-proofing a room is necessary before any chinchilla is allowed to run around. Chinchillas are chewers. This goes for baseboards, electrical wires, furniture, and on and on. We’ve found that the most convenient way to get our chins to exercise is by allowing them an hour or two to run around the bathroom every evening. Chin-proofing a bathroom is fairly easy. Clean up is much more simple when the carpet isn’t involved. Urine can easily be mopped up or wiped up, or a litter pan can be placed in your chin’s “favorite spot.”

(Top)

What do you have against those exercise balls, anyway?
We do not recommend the use of small animal exercise balls, such as the Giant Kritter Krawlers. It has been our experience that the lids on these come off easily, even when they have been securely locked into position. We have had chinchillas find their way out of these exercise balls on two separate occasions. If you must use these to give your chinchillas exercise, please use masking tape to prevent the lids from moving. Also, these Giant Kritter Krawlers can cause a chin to over-heat. Remember to take your chin out of the ball at least every fifteen minutes to prevent overheating and possible death. Another disadvantage to these exercise balls is that the chinchilla is trapped inside with droppings and urine. Feces and urine and become embedded in the chin’s coat. Regular and thorough sanitizing is necessary to prevent these exercise balls from harboring bacteria.

(Top)

Can a chinchilla really die from being too hot?
Yes. Unlike humans and most other mammals, chinchillas cannot regulate their body temperature. Ideal temperatures are between 45º and 70º F with low humidity. Cages should be kept out of direct sunlight as well as direct draft. We keep our air conditioning set at 70º F during most months, as Arizona tends to have mainly hot months and short winter periods. Another way to keep your chin cool is to freeze smooth rocks and place them in the cages for your chinnies to lean against. This acts better than a frozen water bottle, as there will not be any condensation. You can also try unglazed floor tiles, smooth marble slabs, and chimineas.

(Top)

What’s this I hear about chinnies and water?
Chinchillas and water DO NOT mix! It is fine for chins to drink water, of course, but it is not a good idea to have chinnies around an open water source. Chinchilla fur can be ruined by water. This is why we recommend the water bottles with no-drip valves. Instead of taking traditional baths, chins use special dust to keep clean. You can use chinchilla bath houses to keep the particles confined while chins are rolling around and having fun in the dust. We’ve found that these narrow entrances make a few of our chins a bit nervous. Instead, we use a clear, deep, plastic container with a lid that can be placed on top when the chinchillas are done bathing. This can be very messy, so we don’t recommend allowing chins to bathe around electrical equipment, such as televisions, computers, stereos, etc. Chins should be given access to dust baths approximately three or four times a week. You might consider placing the dust bath in the cage for a 15-minute period. We like to give them access to the dust bath during play time, as this takes place in the bathroom and, again, allows for easy clean-up. Having constant access to the dust bath can cause dry skin.

(Top)

What if my chinchilla gets abnormally dirty or gets wet by accident?
Generally, anything in chinchilla fur will come out with the help of numerous dust baths. If, for example, your chin’s fur gets sticky from Nutri-Cal or takes on the color from a dyed toy, you can use unscented baby wipes to help clean them up. Take the dirty fur between a folded baby wipe and rub. Afterward, either give the chin access to a dust bath or rub dust on the wet spots by rubbing the dust into the fur.

If your chin has gotten wet and the water has soaked through to the skin, you will need to help dry the fur to prevent fungus. Since chinchilla fur is so dense, the fur will not dry completely on its own. Use towels and a drying set on cool to prevent overheating.


My Chinchilla Schedule

Chinchillas are very much creatures of habit. Chinchillas like routines and tend to be a little more happy and relaxed in an environment where a routine has been established. Routines also help chin owners to ensure that all of their duties have been performed in regards to chinnie care. We have set up a list of our daily, weekly, and monthly schedules in regards to our chinchillas. Generally, there are one or two days a week that the chinnies do not get external exercise (playtime), but these days are determined by our plans for the week and can change from week to week.

I no longer have rescued chins. I am down to just one. This is the schedule a friend of mine gave me and has been adopted by many breeders. So if you’re going to have multiple chinchillas, this schedule may help you.

NOTE: Before putting two Chinchilla’s together, please thoroughly read Introducing Chinchillas!


DAILY


Monday

Check water levels (Morning and evening)
Playtime for Clyde, Z, and Zeus (6:30-7:30)
Playtime for Koontz (7:30-8:00)
Fresh timothy hay in every cage (8:00)
Playtime for Avra (8:00-8:30)
Playtime for Henna upstairs (8:00-8:30)
One treat per chin (8:30)
Playtime for Krishna and Radha (8:30-9:00)
Change out pellets and give 1/2 teaspoon of oats per chin (9:00)
Playtime for Sage (9:00-9:30)
Playtime for Bonnie, Hera, and Kalli (9:30-10:00)
Playtime for Harold (10:00-11:00)

Tuesday

Check water levels (Morning and evening)
Dust bathes during the first 15 minutes of each play time
Playtime for Clyde, Z, and Zeus (6:30-7:30)
Playtime for Koontz (7:30-8:00)
Fresh timothy hay in every cage (8:00)
Playtime for Avra (8:00-8:30)
Playtime for Henna upstairs (8:00-8:30)
One treat per chin (8:30)
Playtime for Krishna and Radha (8:30-9:00)
Change out pellets and give 1/2 teaspoon of oats per chin (9:00)
Playtime for Sage (9:00-9:30)
Playtime for Bonnie, Hera, and Kalli (9:30-10:00)
Playtime for Harold (10:00-11:00)

Wednesday

Check water levels (Morning and evening)
Clean all cages (Done during each chinnies’ play time)
Playtime for Clyde, Z, and Zeus (6:30-7:30)
Playtime for Koontz (7:30-8:00)
Fresh timothy hay in every cage (8:00)
Playtime for Avra (8:00-8:30)
Playtime for Henna upstairs (8:00-8:30)
One treat per chin (8:30)
Playtime for Krishna and Radha (8:30-9:00)
Change out pellets and give 1/2 teaspoon of oats per chin (9:00)
Playtime for Sage (9:00-9:30)
Playtime for Bonnie, Hera, and Kalli (9:30-10:00)
Playtime for Harold (10:00-11:00)

Thursday

Check water levels (Morning and evening)
Playtime for Clyde, Z, and Zeus (6:30-7:30)
Playtime for Koontz (7:30-8:00)
Fresh timothy hay in every cage (8:00)
Playtime for Avra (8:00-8:30)
Playtime for Henna upstairs (8:00-8:30)
One treat per chin (8:30)
Playtime for Krishna and Radha (8:30-9:00)
Change out pellets and give 1/2 teaspoon of oats per chin (9:00)
Playtime for Sage (9:00-9:30)
Playtime for Bonnie, Hera, and Kalli (9:30-10:00)
Playtime for Harold (10:00-11:00)

Friday

Check water levels (Morning and evening)
Playtime for Clyde, Z, and Zeus (6:30-7:30)
Playtime for Koontz (7:30-8:00)
Fresh timothy hay in every cage (8:00)
Playtime for Avra (8:00-8:30)
Playtime for Henna upstairs (8:00-8:30)
One treat per chin (8:30)
Playtime for Krishna and Radha (8:30-9:00)
Change out pellets and give 1/2 teaspoon of oats per chin (9:00)
Playtime for Sage (9:00-9:30)
Playtime for Bonnie, Hera, and Kalli (9:30-10:00)
Play time for Harold (10:00-11:00)

Saturday

Thoroughly clean water bottles and food bowls (Done during the day)
Check water levels (Morning and evening)
Clean all cages (Done during each chinnies’ play time)
Playtime for Clyde, Z, and Zeus (6:30-7:30)
Playtime for Koontz (7:30-8:00)
Fresh timothy hay in every cage (8:00)
Playtime for Avra (8:00-8:30)
Playtime for Henna upstairs (8:00-8:30)
One treat per chin (8:30)
Playtime for Krishna and Radha (8:30-9:00)
Change out pellets and give 1/2 teaspoon of oats per chin (9:00)
Playtime for Sage (9:00-9:30)
Playtime for Bonnie, Hera, and Kalli (9:30-10:00)
Playtime for Harold (10:00-11:00)

Sunday

Check water levels (Morning and evening)
Check weights (Done in the early evening)
Dust bathes during the first 15 minutes of each play time
Playtime for Clyde, Z, and Zeus (6:30-7:30)
Playtime for Koontz (7:30-8:00)
Fresh timothy hay in every cage (8:00)
Playtime for Avra (8:00-8:30)
Playtime for Henna upstairs (8:00-8:30)
One treat per chin (8:30)
Playtime for Krishna and Radha (8:30-9:00)
Change out pellets and give 1/2 teaspoon of oats per chin (9:00)
Playtime for Sage (9:00-9:30)
Playtime for Bonnie, Hera, and Kalli (9:30-10:00)
Playtime for Harold (10:00-11:00)

 


WEEKLY

Generally, we give our chinchillas a bit of Nutrical (about the size of a pea) once or twice a week. We also throw out alfalfa cubes and replace them with fresh cubes a few times a week, depending on temperature and humidity. Cages are cleaned at least once a week. Chew blocks are given as needed. Cuttlebone is replaced as necessary. Pine shavings are cleaned from around the cages often. Any urine on the shelves and ledges are cleaned as needed.


MONTHLY

Once a month, we take the cages outside and give them a thorough scrub down. Without the chins being inside them, of course! Once a month, stuffed toys are washed. Obviously, these toys are washed more often if they have become soiled.

(Top)


Meet My Rescued Chinchillas

 

Males

CLYDE

 


HAROLD

harold the chinchilla


Z


KRISHNA


KOONTZ


Females

Bonnie


Hera

 

hera our chinchilla as a pet


Avra

 


Radha


Kalli

Kahli our chinchilla


Background Information

Krishna & Radha

The Story:

Krishna is one of the most popular deities throughout India. Krishna’s consort, Radha, is equally loved amongst the people of India. Krishna is considered to be the eighth incarnation of the god Vishnu. According to legend, Krishna was also heroic. He is alleged to have defeated numerous dragons and monsters, and, as predicted, he killed his half-uncle, the tyrannical King Kamsa.

While Krishna is divine, Radha was human. Radha was a cowherdess who once experienced divine love with Krishna. After they were separated, Radha yearned for reunion. Her longing is a metaphor for the human soul longing for union with the divine. The final reunion symbolizes the bliss of salvation.

 

Avra

Their History:

After Avra’s initial quarantine, an attempt was made to place her with some of the other girls (Bonnie, Hera, and Kalli). Unfortunately, Bonnie and Avra just could not get along. Avra was given her own cage, just above the girls’ cage, with a lovely pink hammock. She thoroughly enjoyed the single life.

 

Z and Mabel 

Their History:

Mabel lived most of her young life helping her mother to raise her offspring. She has a very sweet temperment and loves being around other chinchillas. Unfortunately, Mabel’s first mate, Sage, passed away in December of 2015.

Z is a very docile chin, always preferring to let the other chins be dominant. He lived with Clyde and Zeus very happily for several months.

 


Having a chinchilla as a pet is a huge responsibility, but oh so rewarding!

You may also want to read our post “Chinchilla Care Sheet