Chinchilla Care Sheet
Domesticated long ago because of their soft plush coats, chinchillas are great pets for adults and older children to watch and interact with. Chinchillas who are socialized to people are very affectionate and enjoy being petted, often greeting their owners with a soft chuckle.
Chinchillas are very active and play by running around the room and bouncing off of walls. Because they’re so active, they need at least one hour a day out of their cage to play.
Chinchillas do not like to be held and instead like to jump to their owner’s lap when they feel like it. They do not have claws so they cannot scratch! All rooms where your chinchilla is allowed to play must be “chinchilla-proofed.” Remove items that you don’t want chewed, such as electrical cords, and block off access to hiding places.
Chinchillas are strict herbivores. Chinchilla pellets make up their main diet, along with a daily feeding of hay for roughage. They can also have leafy greens such as dandelion leaves, bok choy, kale, cilantro, parsley and leaf lettuce. Treats should be given only occasionally.
Chinchillas need a cage at least 36″ X 24″ X 24″ tall, and the bigger the better to provide room for them to move around. Solid floors are safer for their legs than wire floors. For bedding, choose from pet litter made of recycled paper or organic pellets. Do not use clay litter or wood shavings. Chinchillas tend to use one corner as a bathroom, and you can put a litter box there. Chinchillas do not tolerate the heat and must be kept below 80 degrees F.
Chinchillas need a water bottle, a non-tip food dish or hopper, a hayrack, a mineral salt wheel, and a fish bowl for their dust baths. They also need a house to sleep in. For exercise, they need a large solid-surface exercise wheel. They also enjoy chew toys and branches to climb on.
Maintenance & Sanitation
Give your chinchillas a dust bath twice a week outside of its cage. If you watch this amusing show you should wear a painter’s mask to avoid breathing the dust. You should clean their cage and accessories weekly. Be sure to scrub all parts of the water bottle.
Chinchillas live an average of 8 to 10 years but can live up to 20 years. The gestation period averages 111 days and the average litter size is 2. The babies are born fully furred with their eyes open and can be weaned at 8-12 weeks.