A Guide to Caring For Chinchillas
Taking care of chinchillas is great fun and they offer one of the most rewarding relationships you can have with a rodent. Guinea pig care is great for kids but chinchillas can provide a much more enjoyable and social companionship that can last for many years to come.
Known for their delicate fur and friendly nature, chinchillas don’t take too much looking after and that’s what makes them such great pets. If you’re considering bringing one into your home, keep reading to learn more about chinchilla pet care and how to provide them with the ideal place to live.
How Big do Chinchillas Get?
Chinchillas are one of the bigger rodents in the family and there really isn’t too much difference in the sizes between the different breeds. Usually, fully grown adults will reach a size of up to 10 inches, plus another three to six inches when including their tails. You don’t have to worry about them getting too heavy either since a happy and healthy chinchilla should weigh no more than a couple of pounds. Short-tailed chinchillas, however, can grow to be almost 18 inches, which is slightly bigger than other breeds.
How Long do Chinchillas Live?
How long a chinchilla will live depends on the breed and whether they’re kept in captivity or not. Chinchillas in captivity stand to live a much longer life than their non-domesticated counterparts and can be the ideal long-term companion. Rather than just eight to ten years in the wild, chinchillas can go on to live for as long as 20 years, which is much longer than many other types of rodents. Though they’re relatively fragile animals, keeping up with the best chinchilla care tips will keep them healthy for longer.
Chinchillas are typically popular pets because of their gentle nature. They’re much cleaner and quieter than other rodents and tend to make the ideal companion for adults and older children. For anyone that’s considering hamster care, you may find that chinchillas have more to offer and are much more sociable. It’ll take some time to get your chinchilla familiar with human interaction but it’ll no doubt come quicker than with other rodents. They are a bit shy, however, so they don’t exactly make the best pets for small children.
How to Hold Chinchillas
Knowing the proper way to hold your companion is chinchilla care 101. Applying the right method from the beginning will make them comfortable with being held and begin to enjoy human contact. Otherwise, your chinchilla might never feel at ease when in your company, so be sure to start things off the right way.
- Let them first settle into their new home
- Wash your hands
- Approach your chinchilla slowly
- Sooth your pet by stroking them and talking
- From behind, place your hands carefully around its chest
- Lift them towards your torso and hold them there for greater support
When taking care of chinchillas, you need to ensure that their home is kept clean. Chinchillas are known for pooping in all places of their cage without preference for a particular spot. Their home also needs to be adequate in size and should give them plenty of room for running around, as well as for hiding. Rodents are preyed upon by a lot of species after all, so they tend to be quite shy. Your chinchilla home will need:
- The cage should be at least two meters high and wide, with at least one meter of depth.
- Areas for them to hide behind and inside
- Their home should be placed in the quietest room in your house
- Covering it with a thin cotton sheet may help them if your home is loud
How to Clean Their Home
Knowing how to clean their home isn’t difficult but is an important part of your chinchilla care guide. They’re pretty low maintenance animals and are actually quite clean, but you should always aim to clear out their cage at least once a week, including their bedding and food bowls. For proper cleaning, you’ll need to:
- Use a vinegar and water solution or bleach and water
- Dump all crumbs, pellets, and rubbish from the cage
- Clean all water and food bowls thoroughly
- Remove all droppings from shelves and surfaces
- Clean any wooden areas and be sure to dry them properly (wood harbors bacteria that’s bad for your chinchilla)
What do Chinchillas Eat?
Chinchillas are like most other animals in that they benefit from a mixed and balanced diet. It’ll come as no surprise that they also enjoy treats and will indulge too much if you let them, so be sure to only give them treats on rare occasions. Managing their food properly is an important part of chinchilla care. Typically, the best foods for you to give them are:
- Timothy hay and oat grass are the main components of a chinchilla’s diet
- Pellet food (contains all essential nutrients for chinchillas)
- Dark and leafy greens every other day
- Fruits like banana, melon, and apple once a week
- Raisins once or twice a week
- Keep a constant supply of fresh, clean water
How to Know if Your Chinchillas is Healthy
First and foremost, the best way for keeping your chinchilla healthy is with insurance for exotic pets. That way, you can provide cost-effective care for your chinchilla whenever they need it.
There are telltale signs to look out for that can let you know how your chinchilla’s doing. Just like other pets, they’re prone to certain diseases and will exhibit certain symptoms if something’s wrong. Some of the symptoms to look out for include:
- Overgrown front teeth
- Patches in fur
- Unexpected weight loss
- Eye, nose, or mouth discharge
- Not eating or drinking normally