The exotic pet chinchilla is shy, intelligent, and they have a pleasant personality. They have an average lifespan ten to fifteen years. It is certainly not unheard of for chinchillas to live as long as 20 years. Following a good chinchilla care guide helps the chinchilla to achieve optimum longevity.
Chinchillas are normally gray but can have many mutations of colors from white to black and many variations in between. They gray is the least expensive because there are more of them. The chinchilla originated in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina and are of the Chinchillidae family. This family divided into three groups. The chinchilla belongs to the same group as porcupines and guinea pigs, the Hystricomorphic family. The two chinchilla species is the short-tailed chinchilla brevicaudata and the long tailed chinchilla bred for the pet industry of the species the chinchilla lanigera.
The chinchilla harvested for their exceptional fur, which almost lead to their extermination. Gradually chinchillas were bred domestically saving them from the brink of extinction. Short-tailed chinchillas have been on the Critically Endangered list for quite some time and are protected. Long-tailed Chinchilla as vulnerable Always purchase captive bred exotic (domestically bred) pets to protect the remaining populations.
Chinchillas make a variety of sounds to communicate but are not anywhere near raucous or boisterous. On a care scale, they are reasonably easy to care for.
As with all rodents the teeth grow continually and they must have material to chew on to keep their teeth at a safe length. Look in the small animal department in your pet store.
Pet chinchillas enjoy jumping from perch to perch, since they must have a means to keep their teeth ground down; it is nice to have the lava perches; duel function.
They could also chew things they shouldn’t chew. They can’t be taught not to chew your belongings.
They are nocturnal meaning they are up in the evening and go to sleep in the daytime. You have to ask yourself if this is the pet for you. Pets require plenty of care; if you are nocturnal, it may be a match in heaven.
They enjoy toys, wheels, and chew blocks (safe) round nest balls they play with and rest in, cute as a dickens. They enjoy a variety of wheels found in various pet stores and online stores. Which brings us to the subject of cuddling; they enjoy some cuddling, on their own terms but are very energetic and active. They must be able to exercise and run outside their cage for at least an hour a day. This must be supervised play for their own safety and for the safety of your belongings, outside plants and shrubs they will somewhat nimble their way around. Make sure there are no poisonous plants near the chinchilla.
Before buying your chinchilla make sure, you have everything ready before he or she arrives. Look for bright clear eyes, no signs of fur biting, not wet below the chin, and doesn’t feel skinny or sickly. Look for some of the droppings make sure they are dry and firm.
Approach taming the chinchilla slowly and gradually you must gain their trust, and you will. They will love being with you, but on their terms. A chinchilla shouldn’t be forced to be a lap pet, it isn’t their nature. Though, when ready they will gladly climb on you.
It bothers me a great deal when I find someone who has written an article on exotic pets such as the chinchilla and states they are not necessarily social creatures. The herd social structure is very important and the knowledge is crucial to prevent aggressive behavior or worst; injuries and death.
Female chinchilla’s can share the same cage; they are social and live in herds in the wild. Be very careful introducing a new female to the cage as they have advanced social structures. They will display defensive behavior, as they will also defend their territory. When adding a new female put the new female in a second cage near the primary cage. Do not put it within reaching distance of the other cage. Give them plenty of time to grow use to each other, smell, and sounds. She will eventually be accepted by the group.
Add a new hiding box it will not have the scent of any chinchilla; this will help with adding a new chinchilla.
Gradually introduce the new female to the group during out of the cage time; this is a good time for the dust bath. You must supervise this introduction at all times.
Two or more males may live together as long as there are no females nearby (in the same house, NO scent of females) to provoke aggressive behavior. Chinchillas’ are sweet; however, they can kill each other when provoked by female scent. Introduce a new male in the same way you introduce a new female to a female herd. Stick with females or males; not both.
The cage for the chinchilla should be large especially since they are very active animals. They love the large, tall, multi-level cages.
In the wild chinchillas take baths in dust. They deplore water! In the wild, the chinchilla’s environment is volcanic. The only dust that should be used is a dust bought commercially called chinchilla sand. This formula is naturally dust free and a safe way to groom a chinchilla and they must have the tool to groom. It will remove moisture and fatty oils. This chinchilla sand is great for gerbils and hamsters as well. Do not use plain sand.
Dust bathtubs can be bought or you can use any container that won’t be knocked over. The container should be large enough for the chinchilla to roll around in. The dust bath can be removed when the chinchilla is finished with his or her bath so that the dust does not become soiled. After removing the dust container, sift it to remove any impurities. Combing and brushing is a nice way to bond with your pet. However, this should be done before the animal takes its dust bath. Change the sand after cleaning and sanitizing the container on a frequent basis. With proper precautions, chinchillas rarely get sick.
The chinchilla will need a hidey house within his or her cage. It doesn’t need to be big, just comfortable. Remember, they will chew. A great example, may not be too difficult to reproduce out of safe untreated wood you have at home. (Amazon) Super Pet Chinchilla Chin Hut Hideout
Chinchillas need plenty of love, on their terms. Make sure you have time to spend quality time with your pet. Above all, enjoy your new pet! The chinchilla care guide continues!
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The Chinchilla Handbook (Barron's Pet Handbooks)
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