No, our little housemates don’t belong on the psychologist’s couch. Mental illnesses, as we know them from people, are usually not their problem. It is usually the wrong posture that drives the animals “crazy”.
Chinchillas are almost self-destructive to stress. They tear out their fur obsessively. Since they usually only bite their fur at night, their behavioral disorder is only noticed when they are already bald. Cages that are too narrow, keeping them alone or making noise (especially during the day when the chinchillas go to sleep) cause this behavioral disorder. While chinchillas are social animals, they also need enough space to avoid each other. The Zürcher Tierschutz even recommends room-sized enclosures for the animals that love to exercise!
The rodents want to be busy
Even a large cage can become a boring prison if the facility doesn’t give the rodents a chance to occupy themselves. Good hay not only provides healthy nutrition but also keeps the animals busy. The best way to satisfy their need to gnaw is with twigs. You can use beech, fruit tree, and hazelnut branches. The branches not only satisfy their need to gnaw, but the animals can also use them as hiding places. However, the branches should not be sprayed. To be on the safe side, rinse them well with hot water. Several floors in the enclosure ensure a larger total area, hiding places, and vantage points. Of course, the device should be stable and not pose any risk of injury. In the pet trade, too, you will always find suggestions on how to give your rodents some variety in everyday life. But not everything that is offered is good for the animals. Before you buy an animal, you should find out about its needs and normal behavior. Numerous books are commercially available for each animal species. Only then can you offer him a species-appropriate attitude right from the start, which allows him to remain mentally and physically healthy.