Adopting a new pet is a great joy and responsibility for everyone, no matter if we’re talking about large animals like cats and dogs or smaller ones like rodents. Rodents can make great companions and are generally low-maintenance but you’ll have to keep on reading this article for more information.
Some rodents are quite easy to handle and don’t require too much space, while others, like chinchillas, are more sensitive and need your full attention every day.
If you decided to adopt a rodent as a new pet, you need to make sure the animal you’re choosing is compatible with you, your family, habits, and your lifestyle. Chinchillas and Guinea pigs are both suitable and popular choices so, if you’re thinking about getting one of these two, here is everything you need to know about them.
Are there any similarities between these two?
Although they are quite different in terms of habits and personalities, these two species of animals do share some similarities.
First of all, they are both part of the large rodent order, meaning they have long, sharp teeth to penetrate durable materials and chew on pretty much anything, from wood and hay to kibbles, fruits, and veggies.
Secondly, they are both small in dimensions and are considered as “pocket pets” in the industry. They feature large cheek pouches that allow them to store food for later and they love chewing. Apart from that, both Guinea pigs and chins are mainly active during the night, with some exceptions.
They both originate from South America and are furry mammals, used to walking long distances. In their natural habitat, these animals live in herds and are known for hiding inside the ground to get rid of predators.
They prefer the company of other individuals from their own breed and can even suffer from depression if they are kept alone. Moreover, when in captivity, they tend to get easily overweight and obese, so you need to make sure they have enough sources of entertainment and a suitable running wheel to exercise constantly.
This medium-sized furry animal is part of the rodent order and was first discovered in South America. Large colonies of chinchillas used to live in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina, but they were intensively hunted by locals for their precious fur and they almost got extinct in the 20th century.
Nowadays, it is estimated that only about 20,000 chinchilla individuals live freely in South America while the rest of the population was domesticated and sold as animal companions for humans.
The first chinchillas were brought to the United States less than a century ago, in 1927 and, ever since then, they have become extremely popular as pets. They were originally domesticated for their thick and luxurious fur but nowadays they are mainly kept for their loving personalities.
Adult chins usually weigh between 0.88 and 1.3 pounds and measure 8 to 12 inches in length. Unlike other animals and especially rodents, chinchillas have a long lifespan and can even reach 20 years of age in captivity.
However, looking after these animals is more complicated as you might originally think. Apart from being quite expensive to buy in the first place, they are also high-maintenance and require special conditions to thrive. They are sensitive animals and can easily develop health problems and die.
Generally speaking, chinchillas enjoy dark and dry environments, with no drafts, dampness or direct sunlight or heat exposure. They are resistant to cold thanks to their thick fur but won’t be able to handle extremely low temperatures since they were mainly bred in captivity. They thrive at temperatures between 64 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and in dark places.
They are fragile, sensitive, and quite shy until you gain their trust but can become true companions and develop a beautiful friendship with their owners. Chinchillas love to jump so they should be kept in large, wide spaces or in special cages that provide enough free space for them to stretch their pretty paws.
They are mainly crepuscular beings, meaning they are active at dawn and dusk but if they are kept inside, they can be awake and active in the daylight as well.
Each chinchilla has a unique personality but most people agree that these animals are quiet, shy, and incredibly smart. They don’t usually vocalize, meaning they are suitable for people who want to keep a quiet animal indoors. Nevertheless, they are quite expensive to keep and look after, especially in the long term.
Apart from a large cage filled with entertainment options and exercise wheels, chins should be on a strict diet because they have the tendency of getting easily overweight. They also require specific grooming products and regular visits to the vet for nail trimming and vaccines.
As we previously mentioned, their health can be easily affected by external factors, so keeping them as pets comes with great responsibilities. On average, you should expect to pay around $1000 a year for bedding, food, toys, and regular visits to the vet.
So, if you decide to adopt or buy a chinchilla you need to be able to closely look after its needs and make sure it is happy. This implies spending a lot of time with it while it’s awake, playing and petting. Moreover, these rodents often enough require a companion to not feel sad and depressed, so you should always consider adopting a pair rather than just one individual.
These creatures are medium-sized furry mammals part of the same rodent family. They were first domesticated more than 10,000 years ago and have been an important part of the Chilean culture ever since.
In more recent times, the Western world used these animals for lab experiments due to their similarities to the human body. Nevertheless, according to national statistics, there are over 50 million Guinea pigs registered as pets in the United States alone, proving that their sweet, calm, and funny nature conquered the hearts of adults and children alike.
Similar to chinchillas, these rodents also prefer living in big groups of up to 10 pigs, so it would be best to provide them with at least one companion in captivity.
They also like dark and dry environments, with temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Their thick fur allows them to be more tolerant to low temperatures than heat but this doesn’t mean they should be kept in cold rooms, especially in the wintertime.
Both wild and domesticated cavies or Guinea pigs are great borrowers, meaning you’ll have to satisfy their needs accordingly. They should be kept in large cages with plenty of space to stretch their paws, exercise, as well as entertainment accessories.
Healthy individuals can easily reach eight years old, especially if you look after their weight and help them have an active lifestyle.
These creatures are known for being well-tempered and stick to their habits and daily routine. They enjoy the company of both humans and can develop a wonderful friendship with their owners. The key to keeping your Guinea pig happy and healthy is to make its life as predictable as possible like serving meals or petting them at certain hours of the day.
They are herbivores, so opt for a veggie-based diet consisting of special pellets, alfalfa, timothy hay, vitamin C supplements, and fresh fruits and veggies served as treats.
These rodents are quite independent so they don’t need your full attention every moment of the day. Thus, they could make great pets for those with busy schedules, as long as you don’t neglect them and stick to their habits. They are also more affordable to raise and don’t require too many grooming products or visits to the vet.