you take any pets into your life it is important to learn about
their proper care and special needs. Not every pet is suitable for
every person, and because it is only fair to consider their needs
and whether or not we can properly provide for them , we ask that
you please consider the following information before making the
decision to adopt a chinchilla.
Chinchillas are adorable, delicate and interesting companions
who can live 12-18 years, some have been known to live to the
age of 20!
must live inside the home where they are safe from predators,
extremes of weather and loneliness.
are crepuscular, which means they’re most active in the
late afternoon/early evening, and during the morning hours. They
adapt fairly well to human schedules, and generally like to snooze
in the noon to afternoon hours.
are very gregarious and social creatures who enjoy living in large
groups (often up to 100 chinchillas in the wild!), so it is best
for them to have them in pairs (spayed and neutered, of course).
should be spayed or neutered by exotics vets experienced
in working with chinchillas. Not all vets see chinchillas, so
it is important to find one who does before a medical
need a special dust bath every day to keep their coats healthy.
It is also a lot of fun for them, and very cute to watch.
need toys to play with, as well as a minimum
of 2-4 hours out-of-cage playtime, in a chinchilla proof area,
chinchillas do make wonderful adult and/or family pets, they are
not particularly well suited to children because they are delicate,
prefer quiet – and can be easily injured by little feet
or by being held incorrectly.
are active and need large, roomy enclosures to keep them healthy
and happy. Large multi-leveled cages are best, because they offer
several ‘floors’ for the chin to hop on, play on or
look out from. Chins have long powerful hind legs and need to hop
about to keep their muscles in good shape. These multi-level types
of cages can be purchased or hand made. You can put a basket of
hay on one floor, a bed on another, a hidey tube or box, various
toys - or nothing. Make it fun for your friend!
do not deal well with high temperatures, so cage placement is very
important. The enclosure/cage should be in a well lit area, where
the ambient temperature is not above 78F. While you may see your
chin snoozing in a sunny spot during his or her out-of-cage playtime,
it is important that the cage is not in direct sunlight.
on cage floors as well as the various levels should be covered by
low pile carpeting or grass matting to protect little feet from
falling through (legs or toes can be easily broken if they fall
through). The bottom level can be filled with chinchilla-safe bedding,
such as Carefresh or Aspen wood shavings. Pine and cedar
shavings/litters are not safe for small mammals, as they have oils
in them which can be harmful to the respiratory system and the liver.
like to hide and snooze, so a good sized wooden or cardboard hidey
house or tube is a nice thing to put in the cage.
bottle and pellet crock should be provided. Water should be changed
daily, the bottle should be checked for proper flow each time it
do not need litter boxes, but some may use them. Their homes should
be swept out/cleaned every day to rid them of feces and urine.
are active and need toys to play with and chew upon, as well as
plenty of out-of-cage time (minimum 2-4 daily hours) to hop around
and explore their environments (which need to be “chinchilla
proofed, see below). Many chins love to have large plastic running
wheels. DO NOT use wire wheels, or the plastic runged wheels, because
little feet can slip through while running and your chin could get
wooden toys, chewable fling toys, plastic keys, little balls, cardboard
tubes, toilet paper tubes, mini bunny bags, and Zooh chew wreaths
are all fun toys for your chin. Every chin is different, some like
some toys and some like others. Check out some of the toys on our
website, www.mybunny.org! Your
chin will love them.
toys are fun, and they are also necessary for your chinchilla’s
dental health. It is important to provide your chinchilla with safe
things to chew upon, such as wooden blocks for biting/gnawing (front
teeth) and various safe twigs and chew wreaths to chew (back teeth).
At Zooh Corner we have many wonderful chew toys designed specifically
for your pet’s dental health, such as our Molar Munchies™,
specially designed by exotics vet Dr. Sari Kanfer and Zooh president
Alex Logsdon to help promote good dental health; we also have various
chew wreaths, untreated, chewable baskets filled with hay and goodies,
and our wonderful herb and chew toy filled BunnyBags™.
your chin’s out of cage time a cardboard Critter Cottage is
lots of fun. These two-level cardboard climbing cottages can be
purchased at Zooh Corner events (soon to be on-line) or on-line
and Rabbits and More (rescue). These Cottages have little cardboard
doors and windows – which we advise cutting out for smaller
animals, such as chinchillas and smaller breed rabbits (Netherlands
the most important ingredient in a healthy chin’s diet, is
also a terrific way to keep your chin’s teeth in good condition,
which brings us to our next topic, diet.
hays such as timothy, orchard and oat mixes are the most
important item in your chinchilla’s diet. Your chinchilla
should have access to fresh, varied grass hays 24 hours a day. The
fiber and nutrition provided by grass hays is key to good health.
are another part of the healthy chin diet. Young chins (under a
year old) may be offered an unlimited amount of pellets, but once
they turn a year old and the nutritional needs are no longer that
of a growing baby, the pellets should be tapered down to about 1
or 2 tablespoons per day. OxBow hay company offers a chinchilla
pellet that is high fiber and nutritionally balanced. It is called
Chinchilla Deluxe. Not all pet stores sell OxBow products, but many
local exotics vets do, or you can order on-line (www.oxbowhay.com
) and also check out their list of local retailers.
is important to note that your average pet store is not always the
best place to buy pellets and hay. Many pet stores do not carry
the proper type of pellets for chins or rabbits, and their pellets
and hay have often been in storage or on shelves for a while and
they can tend to be a bit stale. Good places to buy hay and pellets:
local rescues often sell fresh hays in good sized quantities at
good prices to help fund their rescues; local feed stores carry
(grass) hays and may be willing to sell partial bales at good prices.
Pellets can be purchased on-line at OxBow.com, from some rescues,
and often your own exotics vet will carry them.
Corner Rabbit Rescue offers a wonderful selection of fresh
grass hays and we ship throughout the US and Canada. We pack weekly
or bi-weekly and track all hays, so our hay is always fresh, healthy
and yummy. We offer timothy, orchard grass and Zooh Mix ( a mix
of oat, wheat and barley hays).
are an important part of the h ealthy chin diet. Offer about ½
cup per day (per chin) of fresh leafy greens: parsley, cilantro,
dark green lettuces, fresh herbs (mint, basil, etc.), bok choy,
carrot tops. All veggies should be washed as if for human consumption.
When you first begin to offer veggies, start with a small amount
and gradually build to about 2/3 cup per day. Not all chins like
the same veggies.
are fun and chins love them, but they should only get them in small
amounts: a small slice of carrot, a bit of apple or pear, a bit
of a cactus apple (part of wild chins’ natural diet!), a raisin,
a piece of a strawberry, a blueberry… Treats should be offered
in very small amounts.
need a special dust bath to keep their coats healthy. It is best
to offer them this dust bath every day. Commercial Chinchilla Dust
can be purchased at most pet stores. A plastic container, square
and large enough for them to roll around in, should be filled with
about 3 inches of dust. Chins often spend as much as an hour rolling
about in the dust, but should not have all-day access, as too much
dust bathing can cause conjunctivitis. After your chin has had his
or her bath, clean the dust by scooping out any fecal pellets and
store container in a dry area. Change dust completely every 2-3
It is not advisable to offer the dust bath in enclosed commercial
“chin baths” because the enclosed dust can cause eye
and/or respiratory irritation.
Proofing - Making Your Home Safe for Your Chinchilla
are small and they can move fast and jump up on things, so when
safety proofing your home several things must be taken into consideration:
cords must be covered. Not just those on the floor, but up higher
as well. Plastic tubing can be slit lengthwise and the cords stuck
inside, or you can purchase commercial cord protectors.
are small and can squeeze into all sorts of dangerous places:
Plexiglas and plywood barricades can help keep them out, and for
some ground level areas bricks can be used. Again, keep in mind
that chinchillas can hop on top of things to get into all sorts
of places, so proofing up only a few inches or a foot may not
be good enough.
sure your chin does not have access to poisonous plants and that
he cannot get into any cupboards.
and spending time with your chinchilla well help assure that he
is friendly and easy to handle and catch. When first letting your
chin out of his cage for playtime it is a good idea to do so in
a small enclosed place, maybe a bathroom (be sure the toilet is
closed). Once you are sure that you can catch him, begin allowing
him out into whatever safety proofed rooms you have chosen. His
fist trips out should be brief and frequent. This will allow you
to discover what mischief he tends to get into so that you can safety
proof (or remove) further and will help him realize that he can
go back to his own cage for food, water, rest and bathroom breaks.
sure that all doors and windows to the outside are properly closed
and latched. It is very likely that if your chinchilla got loose
outside that you would never catch him!
all vets are trained to care for chinchillas, which are considered
“exotics” in the vet world. It is best to locate a good,
qualified chinchilla vet before you get your chinchilla, then make
an appointment for a “well chinchilla” exam within the
first week or two, so you can begin to establish a working relationship
with your vet. It is also helpful a useful guideline for your vet
to know how your pet is when healthy, for comparative reasons. It
is good to do this early on in your new pet ownership, so if there
is ever an emergency, your vet will be familiar with your pet and
better able to treat him or her.
should see a vet at least once a year for a check-up, and of course
as needed for special concerns and emergencies. We recommend yearly
blood work and dental x-rays. They do not need special shots or
you would like a local vet referral, please contact us – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please put “chinchilla vet referral” in the subject