If you like hamsters, guinea pigs, or ferrets as pets, then the next name on your list must be Chinchilla. Chinchillas are the cutest and most adorable pets you can have among rodents. But being the most adorable pet, their caring needs are a bit different from others.
However, having a pet is a daunting task sometimes as we are responsible for another life too. But if you know the right way to care, then having those little lives with you will be the best experience you can have. So, if you want to care for your Chinchillas correctly, this post will help you through the process.
Easy Guide Of Chinchilla Care For Beginners
For taking care of chinchillas, there are a few important aspects that you have to take care of. First, they will need a well-set-up habitat; proper care of their food, grooming, health issues, and so on. Here we will talk about each of the aspects separately.
The Chinchillas cage should be roomy enough to give the space for chinchillas to run and jump around. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, at least an enclosure of 4′ x 4′ x 3′ (check pronunciation) is necessary for single Chinchillas which means for a pair the measurement should be double at least. Though bigger is better.
Also, for jumping, they will need multilayers on their cage with a solid smooth surface. The cage bottom should also have a solid surface as the soft feet of chins can’t handle the wire surface and suffer from sore or bumble feet.
However, the rest of the cage should be wired, and try to choose cages that are made of metals or non-chewable materials. As chinchillas have a bad habit of chewing things, cages made of plastic or any chewable things will be an easy way to escape for them. With that, the wires have to be only 1 inch spaced, or your chins will come out of cages by squirming their bodies.
Furthermore, you have to give them a proper bedding area, playing area, eating space, and bathing space too. In the bedding area, at least 1-2 inches of high-quality paper bedding or crumbled paper bedding should be placed. We don’t recommend wood shaving on the chinchilla bedding as it is indigestible for chinchillas if eaten. Even cedar-based products are harmful to the Chin and can cause skin and respiratory tract inflammation.
Now, coming to the play area, some common toys like- hideouts, tubes, an exercise wheel, and hanging toys should be there for enhancing the mental stimulation of chinchillas. Chewing toys such as wooden blocks, tree branches, wooden ladders, and pumice stones are to be given to your chinchillas for chewing. Lastly, a ceramic food bowl that is hard to tip over, and a sipper water bottle are needed to be given to the chinchilla habitat.
Chinchillas’ diet has to be full of high fiber and greenery items. In the wild, chinchillas live on grass, tree bark, and low-growing greenery which you can mimic by giving good quality green Timothy hay in domestication. With that, you can give some fresh fruit and veggies in limited amounts as highly moist food can cause diarrhea, bloating, or colic to your Chin.
You can also give chinchilla treats available in pet stores to your little babies. But that has to be unsweetened or without any muesli mix. Because the choosy chins will only pick the tasty part and leave the whole food behind. Also, high-sugar or high-fat foods can lead chinchillas to obesity and bad teeth, so keep it in moderation.
Chinchillas have the softest yet the highest dense coat on rodents. But luckily you don’t have to take care of those soft furs with so many grooming or bathing sessions. On the contrary, bathing chinchillas with water is not allowed as the dense furs of chinchillas never get dry properly and lead them to fungal infections and inflamed skins.
So, never bathe your chinchillas with water. In the wild, chinchillas just roll over the volcanic ashes to keep their furs healthy and self-groom. The same goes for domestication, just give them a bathing bowl or bathe house with at least 10 cm of fine-grade chinchilla sand, and leave the rest on them.
Handling chinchillas can be a critical task for you as chinchillas don’t like to be handled. As prey animals, chinchillas may just run away while you try to handle them. But if handled from a small age, Chinchillas may get habituated to human interaction and wait for cuddle sessions eagerly every day. On the contrary, training an old chin with handling can be a tough task. So, if you want to take your newly aged chinchillas on hand, try to create a bond with them by giving them treats every day. And once the bond is established between you and your chins, you can start handling it.
Chinchillas are very social animals and should always be taken in pairs. But it is recommended to take same-sex pairs of chinchillas to reduce the risk of further breeding. You might now be thinking about neutering or spaying chins but it is an extremely complicated task to do, so no vet will be interested in doing that. And if you want to take both male and female chinchillas then it’s best to keep them in separate cages.
Also, while introducing a new chinchilla on the territory it is always required to keep the new chin in a separate cage near the previous chin. Chinchillas have territorial nature so seeing a new chin on their territory may turn them aggressive. But once they are habituated to seeing each other in the territory, you can keep them in one cage eventually.
Chinchillas are sensitive prey and can become sick of the draft, heat, stress, or poor diet. As chinchillas live way up high in the Andes mountains, the temperature there drops down to -5º Celsius or 23º Fahrenheit. So while setting up the chinchilla habitat, make sure the environment never goes up to 24º Celsius or 75ºF Fahrenheit. Otherwise, chinchillas can die because of heatstroke. Also, avoid keeping chins in direct sunlight or anywhere that experiences drafts too.
That’s all about the beginner’s guide on Chinchilla care. Once you are familiar with Chinchilla’s behavior and how to react to your actions towards you, taking care of a chinchilla will be easier. These are very playful and lovely creatures, so with proper care and attention – you have many good memories with your pet.