In case you have been thinking for a while to get a new pet, and you would like a chinchilla, you have probably started reading various articles on the matter, including about accessories, such as chinchilla cages. Also, finding out more about supplies for chinchillas will help you get an idea about the costs of owning such a pet.
Although they are sold in many pet shops nationwide, many people do not know too much about chinchillas. In this article, we will try to cover as much information about these cute creatures, including why they might not be the right pet for you.
The scientific community recognizes the chinchilla as a crepuscular rodent. This means that they are most active at dawn and dusk. Do not confuse this with nocturnal animals. Some other commonly known crepuscular creatures include cats, dogs, mice, spotted hyenas, moose, rats, deer, rabbits, or guinea pigs.
Keeping a chinchilla as a pet
Chinchillas are bred for their pelts, but in addition to this, they are also bred to be kept as pets. If you are a rodent fan, this one can make a great pet. In their natural habitat, these animals are very active and spend their days jumping and running.
Therefore, if you keep one in captivity, it is extremely important to provide him or her with an adequate amount of exercise to stay healthy.
For a domesticated chinchilla, exercise is not the only regular requirement. These cute rodents also require periodic dental care. Just like in the case of other rodents, chinchillas’ teeth grow throughout their entire lifetime.
The problem is that if they are refused the ability to constantly chew in order to grind down their teeth, they will grow to a point that the animal is no longer capable of feeding itself. The natural chewing behavior of a chinchilla allows the animal to wear down its teeth.
In the case of domesticated chinchillas, you can still make this behavior possible by providing chewing toys, pumice stones, or sticks, which all help wear down their teeth. It is important to know that these toys must not contain phenols, resins, or oils, as they can be toxic. Some examples of safe woods include willow wood, apple tree wood, birch wood, and kiln-dried pine.
Chinchillas are used to the South American climate of the Andes Mountains, so it is essential to provide similar conditions to a domesticated one as well. These cute creatures are not able to sweat, so it is crucial that they’re not exposed to very high temperatures. Chinchillas prefer environments under 80 Fahrenheit degrees.
Any higher than that will cause overheating and even death by heat stroke. If you decide to keep one as a pet, it is recommended to constantly check the color of the ears; they turn red in case of overheating.
This is explained by the animal’s natural method of cooling itself by routing blood to their ears where it can be cooled. So, when you see the ears beginning to get red, it is a sign that your pet is too warm.
When deciding to get a chinchilla for a pet, it is important to consider its natural grooming habits that it uses to clean its fur. In the wild, these rodents roll in dust which is made from pumice. This is a naturally created dust which comes from volcanic rock that provides the small rodent the ability to clean its fur by rolling in it.
The dust sticks to the fur and absorbs oil and dirt which would otherwise remain stuck in the fur. Due to the fact that the chinchilla fur is so thick, it would be impossible to bathe in water as it would not dry which would, in turn, promote fungus and rot.
In order to maintain their fur healthy, these animals require dirt baths a couple of times a week. In case your pet somehow becomes wet, it is crucial to towel him or her dry immediately. You can also use a no heat hair dryer, but the main thing is to get the chinchilla dry as quickly as possible.
This is an aspect that is generally mentioned in regards to the chinchilla. This rodent is believed to be hypoallergenic because its fur is so thick and there is a significant reduction of loose dander.
It is also notable that the fur is naturally resistant to fleas and other types of parasites. Not all people with severe allergies agree with this concept though.
Is a chinchilla the pet for you?
A wild chinchilla should never be kept as a pet, as it is not bred with the intention and temperament of being held in captivity. Any attempt to keep a wild chinchilla as a pet can not only result in a very unhappy friend, but also in injuries since he or she can become aggressive in defending itself.
Domestic chinchillas, on the other hand, are bred to be kept in captivity and do not have the aggressive tendencies of their wild relatives. Although the domesticated pet is not as aggressive as the wild one, it still does not make the perfect companion for everyone as he or she will bite if cornered.
Not smelly or noisy
In families with small children, a chinchilla might not be the best option for a pet. Kids are likely to cause the bite instinct by handling the small rodent too roughly. Still, they do make the ideal pets for many people.
If you are looking for a rodent pet that does not generate a notable smell and does not have a short lifespan, this can be a great option for you. Moreover, these pets are particularly low maintenance, and they are not noisy. A domesticated chinchilla can be also boisterous and curious by nature which makes him or her quite a friendly and interactive pet.
If you decide to get a chinchilla as a pet, you should do some prior research. These rodents can make good pets, but not for everyone.
Where should you buy a chinchilla from?
There are two places that you can buy chinchillas from, and these are either pet stores or breeders. It is up to you to decide where you buy it from, though you may be forced to choose one over the other if, for example, there are no breeders in your area. In this case, a pet shop remains the best choice.
Regardless of where you decide to get the pet from, you should be ready to ask a lot of questions. Chinchillas as pets are great, but some specimens may be more troublesome than others.
You should ask if the pet had any previous owners, if it has behavior problems, or if it is used to live with other chinchillas or alone. You should also try to get a complete health history of the pet.
Doing your homework will help you get a critter that is easier to take care of, especially if this is your first time caring for a chinchilla. It is known that chinchilla temperament is quite fierce, especially when a critter finds itself in uncomfortable situations. Getting a healthy specimen gives you the best chance of building a good relationship together.
Are chinchillas friendly? They most certainly are, but it is important to keep in mind that if they are young or don’t have much experience with humans, it is normal for them to be shy at first. You should expect them to be scared of you at first, but with time, they will begin to accept your touch, and the two of you will become friends in no time.
You can judge the health of a chinchilla by looking at its fur and eyes. The fur should be thick and clean without any bare patches. The eyes should appear bright without any sign of drainage or redness. You should also take a look at the habitat and see if there is any sign of diarrhea. If there is, it means that the pet suffers from health problems.
That’s not to say that you can’t adopt a sickly chinchilla since, with time and care, you should be able to improve its health and give it a good life. However, if this is your first pet chinchilla, adding the extra burden of caring for a sickly pet may be too much for you to handle.
What do they eat?
One of the most important steps when taking care of any pet is feeding since a healthy diet is important not only for their health but also their happiness. The good news is that owning a chinchilla is easy and inexpensive since there are plenty of specialized pellets available that offer a good base diet.
One or two tablespoons of pellets are more than enough for a single chinchilla, but you should be aware that they also need extra fibers and greens in their diet to stay in good shape. Along with the pellets, you should also include some leafy greens, hay, and occasional treats, such as sunflower seeds, dried apples, or raisins.
What type of habitat do they like?
Chinchillas as pets need a safe and secure habitat to thrive, and this means that you will need to purchase a cage that has been designed specifically for the pet. The cage should have a plastic bottom since models that come with a wire bottom can injure your furry companion’s little feet.
You’ll also need to get the right bedding, and here you have a wide selection to choose from based on what you or your pet prefer. There are plenty of options available on the market, such as pelleted or shredded paper products, aspen or pine shavings, or reclaimed wood pulp waste. All of these are fairly cheap, and one pack will last you for a long time.
When keeping a chinchilla as a pet, you will need to make sure that it has plenty of space and opportunities to exercise. This is why it is recommended to purchase a cage that features a multi-level design with hiding areas that they can use to escape when they’re not feeling comfortable.
So do chinchillas make good pets when looking at their habitat needs? The answer is yes since they’re inexpensive, and the only thing that will cost you more is the cage, which is not that big of a problem considering that it will be just a one-time purchase.
However, one aspect that you should keep in mind with chinchillas is that they can’t be litter trained as easily as other pets. This shouldn’t be a big issue since once you find the corner of the cage that they prefer to do their business in, you can place a litter box there with some litter bedding.
Other than that, chinchillas take care of themselves as long as you provide them with opportunities for all their habits. You’ll also need to make sure to include a dust bath in the cage since otherwise, they’ll develop greasy coats.
Life expectancy and common health issues
Unlike other rodents that only live for a few years, chinchillas are long-term pets since they can live anywhere between 12 and 20 years. This makes them a serious commitment, so you will need to make sure that you are ready to look after them for many years to come.
As long as you take good care of the pet and keep it active, it shouldn’t experience many health problems. The most common health issues with chinchillas are gastrointestinal stasis, which can lead to constipation and dental diseases.
The good news is that all of these common issues can be prevented with proper care, namely a good diet, plenty of exercise, and a happy and stress-free living environment. However, as any good pet parent should, you need to be prepared for unexpected vet bills.
Other chinchilla facts you need to know is that these critters need to have food moving through their digestive system to avoid health problems. They don’t eat a lot, but they eat constantly, which means that you should always make sure they have grassy hay available so that they can get all the fiber they need.
Are chinchillas good pets to look after in the long term? The answer is once again yes since as long as you take good care of the pet, you should be able to keep vet bills at a minimum.