So you know someone who has a chinchilla, and the idea of a chinchilla adoption is weighing on your mind. It happens to most people who meet a chinchilla.
They are amazing animals! Before adopting, you need to understand chinchilla health and what they need to thrive so that you can be sure you are able to provide that!
Your chinchilla could live for 20 years! This is a big commitment; an exciting commitment but one that needs to be taken seriously with the right amount of research.
We’re going to run through what needs to be considered and what needs to be bought to provide a chinchilla with a long and happy life with some enthusiastic humans ready for fluffy adventures!
Thriving After Your Chinchilla Adoption
Depending on where you get your chinchilla, a chinchilla can cost anywhere from 75 dollars to 400 dollars. This is just the initial cost of adopting a chinchilla. What you really need to think about is the cost of providing your chinchilla with everything they need for their whole life!
The Best Diet For Chinchilla Health
You can’t know chinchillas without knowing hay. Hay should make up the bulk of your chinchilla’s diet and should be available 24/7 for on-demand snacking.
Chinchillas need a diet rich in fiber to keep their digestive system happy as well as a diet that involves lots of chewing to keep their ever-growing teeth healthy.
How Much Do Chinchillas Eat?
To estimate how much hay you will need for a chinchilla, give them 6 ounces of hay per pound per week. If your chinchilla is 1.5 pounds that makes 9 ounces per week. 9 X 4 weeks = 36 ounces (2.25 lbs.) That is around 8 dollars a month for hay.
If you have multiple chinchillas then of course you will need to do the math with multiple chinchillas in mind! In addition to hay, chinchillas usually have 2 TBS of pellet food designed specifically for chinchillas every day.
The Space A Chinchilla Needs
Imagine the cage your chinchilla needs, now make it bigger. Most chinchillas don’t have enough space and when it comes to a chinchilla enclosure, the bigger the better!
A single chinchilla needs at least 4' x 4' x 3' of space but if you can afford to give them more then do it! Multiple chinchillas living together need an even larger cage.
Chinchillas especially love vertical space. Wild chinchillas spend their days climbing around the Andes mountains so leaving space to put platforms in their cage is important!
This all needs to be planned out before your chinchilla adoption.
Chinchillas Need Lots Of Toys!
Chinchillas need an environment that fosters creativity and gets them excited to explore. You will need to regularly buy new toys for them to discover.
Chinchillas have sensitive stomachs and shouldn’t be given much as far as treats go, but toys make excellent treats and when they’re made with hay and natural materials they’re safe for tasting and nibbling.
Maintaining a Chinchilla Habitat
Chinchillas have beautiful thick coats which require a little extra consideration. For example, it’s important that your chinchilla stays dry because it’s very hard for their skin to dry out under the thick layers of fur!
Moisture trapped on their skin can cause skin issues you and your chin don’t want to deal with. This means they need to have a clean cage and bedding to absorb urine.
What Bedding Should Chinchillas Use?
And not just any bedding, they need natural bedding free of harmful chemicals and toxins. A popular choice is Aspen Shavings for chinchillas.
You’ll need to deep clean their enclosure once a week with multiple spot cleanings throughout the week to make sure there aren't any wet spots that need to be cleaned up. A chinchilla adoption is a financial commitment as well as a time commitment.
But a lot of the time spent with your chinchilla is fun!
Bonding With Chinchillas
Chinchillas can be very shy which is exactly the way prey animals should be. They survive in the wild by using caution around large creatures, especially as large as we are!
So we can’t blame them for being shy. We love that characteristic because that’s how they’ve made it to 2023!
All this means is you need to be patient when bonding after your chinchilla adoption. They aren’t going to run to greet you the way a dog does after a long day at work. But with time and patience, your chinchilla will soon learn that you’re not only the guy with the food but also a real friend!
Comparing Chinchillas To Other Small Pets
While chinchillas certainly warm up to humans, in general they’re going to be less social than say a rabbit or guinea pig. If you have your heart set on an animal running over to you when you call for them then you’ll have better luck with a rabbit.
Chinchillas also have more sensitive stomachs and can’t have as much variety as a rabbit or guinea pig. Chinchilla health needs a stricter lifestyle. You need to be more cautious about both the foods they eat and the materials they’re exposed to.
Both rabbits and guinea pigs can eat more of the fresh fruits and vegetables that you eat! So if you had your heart set on a picnic, again, let me introduce you to rabbits and guinea pigs.
Chinchillas Need Dust Baths
A big difference between caring for a chinchilla and other small pets is that a chinchilla needs access to a dust bath multiple times a week.
Chinchillas secrete oil from their skin and need a dust bath to help keep the oil evenly distributed.
A dust bath is simply a container of dust for them to roll around in. No water! Definitely no water. They need to use sand/dust that was specifically mined and packaged for them. Make sure you are only using chinchilla products!
A dust bath should be available for about an hour at a time and just a few times a week. It’s not something that should always be in their enclosure.
Dust baths are very important for chinchilla health! They help keep their skin cool and dry so they can avoid any skin issues.
Where Can You Get a Chinchilla?
Now, if you’re convinced this is the animal for you and you’re ready for the long-term love and commitment a chinchilla needs then we sure are excited for you!
Chinchillas live happiest in duos or trios so if you think it’s in the cards to have multiple chinchillas then getting multiple from the start is the best way to ensure you have chinchillas that get along.
The first place you should check for a chinchilla is local rescues or even pet pages on social media where you’ll find chinchillas that are looking to be rehomed.
If that isn’t an option, a reputable breeder is the next best choice. Although these chinchillas will usually be more money upfront, it’s good to support someone who is taking care of their chinchillas and breeding responsibly with your chinchilla adoption.
You’ll see chinchillas in pet stores but additional research may be needed to make sure you are getting healthy chinchillas and supporting good practices!
Deciding to get a new pet is an exciting time! Lots of changes but also lots of fun learning as you make space in your home and heart for a new family member.
Chinchilla research is continuously growing! If you have any doubts or concerns contact your exotic vet.
We are not veterinarians, and none of our information should be construed as veterinary advice.