Your New Family Friend: 8 Tips to Help Your Chinchilla Live a Happy Life
Congratulations on adding a chinchilla to your family. These little furballs are wonderful pets that can add love and fun for several years. Chinchillas are unique pets, and they require different care than traditional pets like dogs and cats. These eight tips can help your chinchilla enjoy life.
- Give your chinchilla a comfortable environment
A comfortable chinchilla environment involves a chinchilla cage that is big enough for your pet to find playspaces. The cage should have some shelves for jumping and hiding. Many owners also like to put chinchilla wheels in the cages, too.
Since chinchillas like to socialize with other chinchillas – especially their siblings, you might want to bring home a brother or sister to put in the cage, too. It is important to put a ceramic food bowl and a shielded water bottle in the cage rather than plastic because chinchillas will chew them up.
- Keep your chinchilla busy
Chinchillas like to be active, so put safe toys in the cage. These include the chinchilla wheel, ledges for climbing, and anything else that your chinchilla can climb on and jump on safely. If you take your chinchilla out, be sure your home is chinchilla-proofed because it will chew on electrical cords, houseplants, and other things that are available. Chinchillas will find any small hole and as a rodent, they will do everything in their physical power to squeeze into them.
- Do not let small children handle your chinchilla
Chinchillas are fragile animals and little children are often too rough with them. Small children can easily break a chinchilla’s bones, which will certainly keep your pet from being happy. Chinchillas are not too fond of being petted, which is a major reason why they are not recommended for families with small children.
- Put the chinchilla cage in a key location
Chinchillas are naturally a bit skittish, so they do not do well in busy and loud rooms. But, they do like to watch television – unless the shows are loud and scary. Their cages should be a room that is kept at or below 73 °F. They can handle colder temperatures, but they do not like heat. Even if you think your chinchilla would like to look outside, do not put your pet’s cage near a window, especially if the window gets direct sunlight – as it will certainly cause your pet to overheat.
Since chinchillas are nocturnal it can be helpful to use a blanket to cover the cage during the day. If you are gone during the day, cover the cage, so your chinchilla can sleep well, then play with you when you return. Because chinchillas are nocturnal, you might not want to put the cage close to the bedrooms. They can be noisy as they run around the cage.
- Give your chinchilla high-quality supplies
Your chinchilla needs to have quality food and supplies. They need Timothy grass pellets to eat and fresh water. Chinchillas also love to eat unsweetened cereal like shredded wheat. They also love to eat a raisin and old-fashioned oatmeal. You should also put high-quality pumice powder in your chinchilla’s cage so it can take a dust bath.
Since chinchillas like to chew, they need something durable and safe to chew on. By regularly chewing, they will keep their teeth from becoming unmanageably long. Applewood sticks that are dried and free of mold. The sticks should be as natural as possible and completely free of dyes and added chemicals. You should not give chinchillas evergreen sticks or any pieces of fruit from trees. They simply like to chew on the sticks and twigs.
- Feed your chinchilla a proper diet
Even though they are rodents, they are not omnivores – even though they will chew on anything they can get their teeth on. In fact, they are picky eaters who only like a few different food items.
They do not do well with fatty, rich foods – so do not feed your chinchilla human table food. They prefer pelleted diets because the nutrients are packed tightly in the pellets. They only need one or two pellets each day.
Since your chinchilla likes to each Timothy grass, be sure to keep the grass clean by changing it in the cage regularly. While chinchillas like pelleted food, the grass should be loose. It might be fun to give your chinchilla a treat, it is best to do it infrequently because sugars can be too much for their sensitive stomachs. They love raisins but do not give too many of them. They also like rose hips.
- Stick to a schedule
Chinchillas, like all pets, appreciate schedules. Give your chinchilla a name and use it to get your chinchilla familiar to hearing it. Feed your chinchilla at the same time and play with your chinchilla at the same time, too. If you are going away on a vacation and you cannot take your chinchilla, let your chinchilla-sitter get to know your pet before you leave.
You might be tempted to give your chinchilla a regular bath, but these rodents do not need to bath in water. They will bathe in the dust a few times per week. The dust bath should be in a chew-safe box with two or three inches of dust in it. Since they are from South America, they prefer volcanic dust in their baths. You get to set the bath time, so put the dust bath in the cage. Leave it there so your chinchilla can get a bath, then remove it after 15 minutes or so.
- Learn your chinchilla’s language
Chinchillas communicate with their owners. They will wink and nibble. The wink is a way of saying hello. And, chinchillas like to groom other chinchillas and they do it by gently nibbling. Chinchillas are smart creatures, so if your nibbles and you do not like, take away your finger and say no in a gentle voice. Your chinchilla will eventually figure it out, but if you hit your chinchilla, it will learn to fear you.