If you and your family are looking for a small, fun and furry pet, look into adopting a Chinchilla. These small animals are affectionate and make great companion animals for adults and children.
Chinchilla’s, also known as “chins” require a certain diet and special care. Of course, they will thrive with lots of love. They eat a special chinchilla hay or grass, which needs to be purchased or grown because it is not like regular lawn grass.
Originally from South America, this relative of the rodent was once valued for its thick, soft fur. Wild chinchillas are near extinction; however, they are now bred for commercial sale as house pets.
Here are 9 things you need to know to help you care for your chinchilla.
- A Chinchilla’s Habitat
A nice, large and safe cage is the best place for your chin to live. Choose a cage with a plastic, solid foundation as wire irritates their tiny feet. Choose the best bedding for your lifestyle, not your chinchilla’s. This is because you will need to clean the cage often and some products are longer lasting than other materials. Wood pulp, pine shavings, or paper products in pellet form are the best options. Cedar shavings are not good for chins.
- Room Temperature
Chinchillas need to have the proper temperature in the room they are living in. An area that is too humid and hot can lead to a heat stroke. Any temperature over 80° F is not recommended for your chin’s home. The humidity is also important to keep an eye on because it can be extremely dangerous to chins.
- Potty Training
Regrettably, most chins cannot be litter box trained. You can try by putting a litter pan with paper shavings in the corner of their cage, but it is unlikely the chinchilla will use it for potty business. It is more likely they will use it as a bed.
- Food and Water
Make sure the water bottle is sealed and won’t leak. Excess water in the cage can lead to mold and this could harm your furry pet
They only need a small food bowl as they are a small animal and will eat too much if given the opportunity.
A hay-based diet is best for chinchillas. They may also be fed leafy greens, although the iceberg lettuce is not good for their digestion.
The specific hay is important to their digestive systems as it provides the necessary fiber they need. Hay is also good to keep their teeth ground down. All rodents’ teeth grow continuously and they either need something to chew on to ground them down, or a vet will need to grind the teeth.
Chins, part of the “pocket pets” group, are not known for biting, but when they become stressed, they could bite. And since their teeth are sharp, it will hurt.
Do not pick them up by the tail. Handle them with one hand under their belly and the other under their back legs. This will give them the best support and help them feel grounded. If they become stressed and want to jump out of your hands, put them back in their cage. A fall from any height could be dangerous.
- Multiple Levels
Your chin needs several levels in their cage. This is so they can hide if they feel threatened or scared. Experts suggest PVC piping because it can form into different shapes, like an “L”, a “T”, or a “Y”, which allow your chin to seek sanctuary, and it is easily cleaned.
It may be ideal to have two cages, that way you can keep one clean at all times. When it is time to change the dirty one, you can transfer your chin to the clean one and not worry about where they are while you are cleaning.
- Dust Bath
It may sound counterproductive, but chin’s bathe themselves in a special dust. They will need to bathe about every one to two days and you will need to provide a special container and the right kind of dust for them to bathe with. There are different designs of bath houses, but a small open container will also work.
If a chinchilla does not get a dust bath, they will develop matted, greasy fur. In addition, a non-dust bathed chin could become ill with skin irritation, respiratory distress, and eye problems.
- Singles or Pairs
Chinchillas are best as a single pet. They could be raised with another chin, but they need to be adopted at the same time. A male and female chin could live comfortably together in a large enough cage and if you are wanting to breed them.
Their temperament is not good for multiple chins, other pets, and dogs and cats. Cats and dogs could harm them, thinking they are prey.
It is also advised that there are no small children in the home if you are bringing a chinchilla into the house. Chins move very fast and can easily scare small children. Small children can also move in a way that could upset your chin.
- Regular Veterinarian Car
It is a good idea to find a vet before adopting a chinchilla. There are not many general veterinarians that practice on the very small animals
If there is an issue, you’ll want an expert doctor to care for your beloved chin. Like all other pets, it is important for your chin to see an animal doctor on a regular basis, typically once a year.
Before adopting a chinchilla, do the proper research and see if they are the right type of pet for your family. An active family, with many children, that is never home is not the ideal place for a chin to live. Chinchillas do best with older children and teens that can understand them and participate in their care. Older adult would also be a good fit for a pair of chins as they can be loving and gentle when they are treated right.