Chinchilla’s can initially be quite shy, but with love and handling (especially from a young age) they can form a very close bond with their owners. They typically don’t like to be cuddled but they will keep you entertained with their playful personalities. They have a lively curiosity about everything, using their paws and teeth to play with and nibble toys. If well bred, they can have a life expectancy of up to 15 years.
They need a lot of care, so it’s important to do your research before getting a chinchilla. They must have access to spaces where they can exercise, and temperatures need to be monitored because they lack the ability to sweat. Keeping their environment below 20C is important. They also need plenty of stimulation to prevent them becoming bored so toys and cage accessories are a must. A bored chinchilla is a destructive, unhappy chinchilla.
Chinchillas are rock hoppers and they are best kept in lower cages rather than tall. If a tall cage is provided, they must have a drop of no more than 18-24 inches to prevent injury. Platforms, shelves, fleece hammocks etc can be placed in the cage to divide larger spaces and encourage exploration.
All metal cages are essential. Chinchillas chew everything! A cage with a plastic base is not suitable – the chinchilla will chew their way out and the plastic can cause damage to the mouth and gut (or even death). Chinchillas should not be allowed to chew plastic. Toys with plastic parts are not suitable for chinchillas.
Chinchillas have a lot of energy, so it’s important to provide them with safe toys to keep them happy, healthy and interested. Chinchillas also need their teeth looking after, because they are continuously growing. Gnawing and chewing on safe, wooden toys can help to keep their teeth in order and is something they would naturally be doing in the wild.
Make sure your chinchilla toys are made from a safe, non-toxic wood which is cleaned, pesticide free and untreated. The most popular, safe woods are hazel, willow, apple, untreated pine (for shelving). Toys should not be painted, but can be dyed with a natural dye, adding a splash of colour to their cage. All the toys we sell are suitable and safe for chinchillas – we use mainly hazel and apple wood.
Chinchilla cage accessories
Chinchillas love to explore, hopping from place to place, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of interesting climbing opportunities in their homes. They should have a large, metal cage with lots of ramps, ledges, and shelves leading to multiple levels. The best way to achieve this is with a wire cage and bolted accessories, bridges and floors.
Try getting creative with their cage, creating ledges, nooks and hanging perches for them to discover. You should also rearrange their accessories every couple of months to keep them interested. Chinchillas also like to hide, so consider a small pine house or nest box. If you’re worried about flying poos then we sell splash guards too.
Chinchilla treats & herbs
If you want to see a happy chinchilla, you should see the look on their face when they are nibbling away on a tasty treat. However, since chinchillas need a bland, high fibre, no sugar diet, treats should only be fed occasionally and in very small amounts. Like with most animals, chinchillas should be fed a healthy balanced diet. Chinchillas require a very simple high fibre, no sugar diet. Essentials are good quality chinchilla pellets, good quality hay, and fresh water. Hay should make up the majority of a chinchilla’s diet.
Dried rose hips, hibiscus, and dandelion treats are all known to be a particular favourite of chinchillas. Remember, chinchillas like variety so keep it interesting with different roots, petals, flowers, and forages. Here at Minipetz we sell both loose natural treats and pre-packaged treats fortified with extra vitamins or fibre. Most are suitable for chinchillas.