Chinchilla as a pet - all about care feeding cage illness playing - buy chinchilla pet
Chinchilla as a pet - all about care feeding cage illness playing - buy chinchilla pet

Chinchilla as a pet - All you need to know about care, feeding and housing

Doesn't it always have to be a dog, cat or rabbit? Are you looking for a fun, unique and yet affectionate pet? Then the Chinchilla might be ideal! In the article below, we have listed everything: what do you need, what can you expect and what do you have to do yourself? You can use the table of contents to quickly go to the different sections.

Do you already have a chinchilla? Tell us about it in the comments!

Is a chinchilla something for you?

Chinchillas are small rodents native to South America that live in rocky, dry areas in the mountains. They are active and playful and with careful handling from a young age, most chinchillas become quite tame and can develop a close bond with their owners. But don't expect them to enjoy being held and cuddled as much as you do. dogs and cats. Usually not, although they will express their affection for you in other ways.

Chinchillas can be kept singly but do particularly well as part of same-sex couplesespecially if the two chinchillas are littermates or are introduced at a young age.

We really recommend getting at least two, so they never get lonely!

Species overview

Dutch name: Chinchilla
Scientific name: Chinchilla Lanigera
Adult size25 to 35 cm body, and the tail adds another 10 or 12 cm
Life expectancy15 to 22 years
Cost35 - 150€ for the animal, +- 200€ for the cage and supplies and about 30€ per month for food and care

chinchilla eating out of hand - pet guide nutrition housing costs care health chinchilla

Short: What do you need and what do you have to do?

Shopping list

  • habitat of the right size
  • high quality chinchilla food
  • timothy hay
  • treats
  • bedding
  • feeding bowl / water bottle
  • training wheel
  • shelter
  • toys
  • wood to chew
  • mineral chews
  • dust bath
  • shelter
  • chewing tubes

Eating pattern

A balanced Chinchilla diet consists of:

  • High quality chinchilla pellets and limited amounts of fruit and vegetables.
  • Give Timothy hay at all times.
  • Clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water, refreshed daily.
  • Do not give chocolate, caffeine or alcohol as these can cause serious medical conditions. Avoid sugar and high-fat treats.


Things to remember when feeding your chinchilla:

  • Fresh food (pellets and hay) and water should always be available.
  • A limited amount of fruit and vegetables can be given daily, but should not exceed 10% of their total diet.
  • Fruit and vegetables that have not been eaten within 24 hours should be discarded.

Recommended diet


  • Chinchillas acclimatise well to the average household temperature, no higher than 27°C; be careful of extreme temperature changes. The habitat should never be in direct sunlight or in a draughty area.
  • A large multi-level enclosure is recommended as chinchillas like to jump and play; fenced cages with a solid floor are necessary to protect their feet. The space between the seams should not exceed 2.5 cm. It is best to provide as large a habitat as possible.
  • Sufficiently large bedding should be placed in the habitat; appropriate bedding includes high-quality paper, crumbled paper or hardwood shavings. Cedar-based products are not recommended. Flax, hay, are also possible.
  • Different types of small animals should not be housed together.

Recommended cage

Normal behaviour

  • Plays at night and rests during the day (nocturnal).
  • A well-socialised chinchilla likes to be cuddled and carried.
  • Chew on objects to take care of all their teeth, which are constantly growing; make sure they have plenty of wooden chew sticks or mineral chews.
  • Chinchillas have a very delicate ribcage. Be careful when lifting them and do not squeeze their rib cage.

Habitat maintenance

  • Clean and disinfect the habitat and its contents at least once a week with a 3% bleach solution. Rinse and allow to dry completely before placing the chinchilla back in the habitat.
  • Remove wet spots daily; change bedding at least once a week, or more often if necessary.

Care and hygiene

  • Chinchillas need a dust bath at least twice a week; remove dust after 15 to 30 minutes. Coats may be brushed with a soft brush.
  • Make sure your chinchilla does not get wet.
  • Consult a vet if a chinchilla's teeth appear too long.
  • Chinchillas are born with white teeth, but over time their teeth become yellow; no cleaning is necessary.

Recommended Chinchilla sand for dust bath


Signs of a healthy animal

  • Active, alert and social
  • Eats and drinks regularly
  • Healthy coat and bright eyes
  • Breathing is easy
  • Runs normally

Alarm bell rings at

  • weight loss
  • abnormal hair loss
  • diarrhoea or dirty buttocks
  • distressed breathing
  • listless
  • eye or runny nose
  • skin lesions
  • overgrown teeth
chinchilla plays chew toy out of hand - pet guide nutrition housing costs care health chinchilla

Comprehensive: Read up on the above to care for your chinchilla perfectly

Behaviour and temperament

Chinchillas are largely nocturnal animals, which means that they 's are the most active at night. Sometimes they are called "dusky", meaning that their activity peaks at sunrise and sunset. In any case, they should be kept in a reasonably quiet environment during the day.

They prefer a consistent routine of lifting and feeding and can be stressed by changes in their routine. Because they are so active and playful, chinchillas have a need a large cage for both exercise and daily play time.

Warm temperatures are more of a problem for chinchillas than cool temperatures, and owners should take precautions to ensure that their chinchillas do not overheat.

You need to be gentle and consistent to gain a chinchilla's trust. It can be it takes some time for a chinchilla to get used to your hands and how you treat them, especially if they are older and have not been handled much. Some chinchillas never really like to be held. They would rather explore, or climb on you rather than be restrained, but if you are able to handle and deal with your chinchilla, your relationship will become more rewarding.

A few simple steps can help the most timid chinchilla get used to it. Be calm, slow and patient when taming your chinchillas, and they will eventually respond.


Chinchillas are perhaps best known for their incredibly soft, thick, luxurious fur. In the wild, this fur protects them from the elements, but in captivity it makes them somewhat prone to overheating. This must be taken into account when deciding where to place your chinchilla in the house. A cooler, quiet place in the house is the best place to put a cage for your chinchilla. Summer temperatures should be checked to ensure that the ambient temperature does not exceed 25 degrees Celsius.

Chinchilla cages should be large houses with multiple levels with platforms, ramps and perches. The bigger the cage the better. The minimum floor area is about 60 x 60 cm, and a high cage is best; if possible, buy one with shelves and ladders so the animal can satisfy its natural urge to climb.

A wire is the best cage material; avoid plastic cages or accessories, because chinchillas chew and destroy plastic easily. The tray can be lined with wood shavings, preferably pine; avoid cedar and hardwood shavings, such as aspen and newspaper. Many chinchilla cages have a wire bottom, which is nice for cleanliness, but the wire can be hard on chinchilla feet, so it is best to avoid it. Wire floors or boards can be covered with wood, flax or hay to give the chinchilla's feet some softness. A shelter of wood should also be provided.

Food and water

Chinchillas have specific dietary requirements that differ from those of other rodents. They need a receive high-quality chinchilla-specific feedotherwise their health will suffer. Chinchillas need plenty of roughage and the diet should consist mainly of good quality grass hay and pellets made for chinchillas. Treats should be offered in moderation (no more than 1 teaspoon per day).

The digestive system of chinchillas is quite sensitive, so any changes in diet should be made gradually.

Nutrition in pellets is better than a mixture of separate items. Commercially available loose mixes containing chinchilla pellets, seeds, corn and other foods may be nutritionally balanced while in the bag, but your chinchilla may not eat all parts of the mix. In fact, chinchillas tend to pick the goodies out of a mix and eat whatever they feel like, making it less nutritionally balanced. Instead of a loose mix, look for a pelleted diet specially formulated for chinchillas with 16 to 20 per cent protein, low fat (2 to 5 per cent) and high fibre (15 to 35 per cent).

Dust baths

Hairy chinchillas, which come from dry regions, have Requires regular access to a dust bath. Please note that regular dust baths are necessary to keep your chinchilla's soft, thick coat in good condition. Chinchillas should never be immersed in water. The fine chinchilla dust used for a dust bath penetrates into the thickness of the chinchilla's fur, absorbing oils and removing dirt. Not only do dust baths keep chinchillas' coats in tip-top shape, but they also seem to really enjoy a vigorous dust bath.

Buy special chinchilla sand for the dust bath and place it in a dish of about 30 x 30 cm.

Best toys

Chinchillas love to chew, run, jump and hide. This means that you need a variety of toys for chinchillas to keep them busy and active, especially items to chew on so that their teeth are cared for at the same time.

Blocks of wood and tree branches that are free of pesticides are good chew toys. Some wooden parrot toys are also good toys for them, as are the willow balls and rings you can find for rabbits. It is important to provide toys without small or plastic parts that can be swallowed. In addition, a "chinchilla block" or pumice block can be provided for chewing, and this will help to keep the teeth in order.

Running wheels can be excellent exercise, although you may find that unless the chinchilla is introduced to the idea at a fairly early age, it may not be necessary to run on a wheel. Look for a wheel that is at least 30cm (anything smaller is too small for most adult chinchillas), with a firm tread and an open side with no cross bracing, as with spoked wheels, which can be dangerous for feet and tails. The risk of overheating makes the use of plastic round balls undesirable; Your chinchilla would rather run around in a safe, chinchilla-proof room with no exposed electric wire or plastic to chew on.

Examples of toys

Common health problems

Chinchillas suffer from the same health problems as other small mammals. They may have respiratory or digestive problems with symptoms such as discharge from the eyes and nose or diarrhoea. Sick chinchillas may also lose weight, shrink their bodies, stop grooming their fur, have difficulty breathing or stop eating.

In addition to infectious diseases, chinchillas can be injured. Ulcerated or broken nails can cause problems when walking or running. Chinchilla teeth grow quickly and overgrown teeth can become a problem.

If your chinchilla shows signs of illness, take it to an exotic vet. In the meantime, however, you should not hold your chinchilla too tightly as handling can be stressful.

Buy your chinchilla

Chinchillas can be bought from pet shops or breeders. When buying your chinchilla, bear in mind that, as they are usually most active at night, you may not see them at their most active. A few points to watch out for:

  • It is a bad idea to buy a baby chinchilla that is less than 3 months old; they are too young to be separated from their mother. Instead, try to find a chinchilla that is around 4 months old, which is an ideal age to start taming your new pet.
  • It is possible to adopt an unwanted chinchilla; these will be older animals, but possibly already socialised.
  • Make sure the chinchilla you are considering is active and has bright eyes, a good appetite, lots of energy and a shiny coat.
  • If possible, buy your chinchilla from a shop or breeder who can work with you if you have any questions or problems.
  • Male and female chinchillas are very similar in temperament and longevity.
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