Properly Keeping a Chinchilla as a Pet

When keeping chinchillas, there are a few things to consider so that the animals feel comfortable. Read here what is fundamentally important when keeping, feeding, and caring for chinchillas. Are you suitable as a chinchilla owner?

The first chinchillas came to Europe from South America as fur suppliers. Chinchilla furs were popular back then. Animal rights activists later freed many chinchillas from breeding farms and adopted them as pets. Here you can read the basics of keeping chinchillas.

Are chinchillas the right pets for me?

Before you get a chinchilla, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you have enough time for keeping the chinchilla? Because even if the animals live in a large cage, they still need a lot of exercise and care every day.
  2. Do you have enough space? A species-appropriate chinchilla cage for two chinchillas must have a minimum volume of 3 m³. (At least 50cm wide and 150cm high). For each additional animal, the enclosure must be enlarged by an additional 0.5 m³.
  3. Can you afford the chinchillas? Cage, food, and vet cost money.
  4. Is the whole family okay with keeping chinchillas?
  5. Can you take care of the chinchillas even if your children want chinchillas but eventually lose interest in the animals?
  6. With good husbandry and care, chinchillas live to be 15 years or older. Can and do you want to take responsibility for the animals for so long?
  7. Chinchillas are nocturnal and prefer to spend the day in a cage. Can you respect this way of life?
  8. Do you have someone to feed and take care of the chinchillas when you go on vacation?

Only if you answered “yes” to all of these questions should you start thinking about keeping chinchillas. Otherwise, you should urgently discard the idea. Then maybe another small mammal would suit you better?

That’s what chinchillas need

Like all rodents, chinchillas like variety. Even a large pen can become a boring prison without the right setup! The facility is important for the physical and mental health of the chinchillas! This belongs in the perfect chinchilla home:

  • Litter on the floor* (hemp, linen, corn, or wood litter)
  • Seat boards that can only be reached by jumping (placed at different distances, at least 3 floors)
  • Sleeping houses* (each 30 x 20 x 20 cm in size)
  • Hiding places (made of wood or clay and cork tubes*)
  • Branches for gnawing and climbing
  • Bowls* for food and water
  • Toy*
  • Chinchilla sand* and special bowl* for a sand bath

The wood should of course be untreated and non-toxic, as animals like to gnaw on the furniture. Spruce wood has proven itself for furnishing rodent cages.

Caution: The chinchilla facility should be free from hazards. Place everything so that the chinchillas cannot injure themselves on the edges. Objects that can fall down also pose a hazard. Therefore, for example, attach sleeping houses and make sure that all furnishings are securely attached in the chinchilla cage.

Important: Even if the chinchilla cage is perfectly set up, the animals still need a lot of free-roaming every day. You should plan a few hours! Keep an eye on the chinchillas when they run free and secure the free run from danger.

Your chinchilla needs this

So that your chinchilla feels comfortable in its new home, you will find here what a chinchilla needs to be happy:

Buying chinchillas

If you don’t necessarily want to buy kittens, the animal shelter is the best place to go. Check with your local animal shelter to see if they have abandoned chinchillas.

If you do decide to take chinchillas from the breeder, then you should take a close look at how the animals are kept. The chinchilla cages must be large and clean. The chinchillas themselves should be well-groomed and make a lively impression. A competent breeder will answer all your questions about the welfare of chinchillas and how the animals are kept with you.

Chinchillas are also sold in pet shops. But be careful: Most of the time, the cages are much too small and the chinchillas are extremely stressed because of the noise they are exposed to all day long. Only buy from a pet dealer who will advise you individually and keep his animals in a species-appropriate manner.

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