Chinchillas: everything you need to have one

chinchilla eating a treat
07 May 2019 Pets4Company

What do I need to know before purchasing a Chinchilla as a pet? Housing, food, hygiene and care ... discover everything here!

Before considering purchasing a chinchilla as a pet it is important to try to know a little about the life habits and care to take with these small, but very complex, rodents .

Housing :

The cages to be considered to receive a chinchilla must be vertical and include, inside, some platforms and hiding places, since the anatomy of the chinchillas makes them good climbers and capable of jumps that can reach a meter in height. It is not recomended to have grids in the bottom of the cage that could compromise its safety should also be chosen.

Food:

As for the chinchillas' food, it consists of a suitable food for these rodents, preferably in pellets as its muesli version contains many grains and fats harmful to the liver.

It should also include a lot of hay that allows not only the acquisition of a good amount of fiber, but also the proper wear of the molar teeth that grow throughout their life.

On the other hand, to facilitate the wear of the incisors, untreated and non-resinous wood can be provided in the form of toys or chopsticks, while providing good entertainment .

We must also always keep fresh water at its disposal in an appropriated water bottle with a ball point to prevent leaks from occurring and the chinchilla wet its dense coat.

Hygiene :

At the bottom of the cage we must use a non-resinous litter in pelleted wood , which allows to neutralize odors, which in the case of chinchillas are almost non-existent.

To keep the hair and skin healthy, a container with appropriate bath sand should be made available to the chinchillas where the chinchilla does its own hygiene.

Its coat is so dense that it makes it impossible for parasites to enter, without the need of any external deworming . It is important to keep the coat clean and loose in order to avoid heat strokes that can be fatal since they have difficulty in lowering their body temperature.

Treats and Toys:

Since Chinchillas have sensitive digestion systems, we should avoid treats whose nutritional content contains too much fat or anti-nutrients. We should choose herbs and flowers suitable for these little friends, some non-citrus fruits (such as apples and pears) and goji berries. However, we must avoid: oilseeds, legumes, animal protein, any seeds or grains, nuts, almonds and other dried fruits, since their consumption can cause serious problems.

The toys that we can give to chinchillas must be of reliable origin, made from untreated, non-resinous woods and contain no toxic products such as dyes. In addition to providing entertainment, they must also be hard enough to allow the wear of teeth while maintaining their health and hygiene.

Health and well-being:

The chinchillas  cage must be located in environments where the temperature and humidity are not very high. Temperatures that are too high can cause heat strokes, mostly fatal, as these little furry friends cannot cool easily.

High humidity can lead to the appearance of fungi, some of which proliferate in hay, and can be ingested. It can also lead to the appearance of ring-worm, a fungus that proliferates in skin cells and whose spores are highly contagious, spreading between species at great speed. This fungus is identified by the appearance of hairless, irritated and scaly areas along the nose, eyes, mouth, ears and genitals.

Chinchillas can also develop dental problems such as dental malocclusion or abnormal growths, the appearance of which is due to genetic background or improper feeding. Animals whose ancestors systematically present dental problems should not be included in breeding plans since the probability of passing these same problems on to their kits is high. Lack or excess of calcium, during pregnancy and growth, can also lead to poor development of bones and teeth as well as a diet that does not allow to wear the incisors and molars that, in chinchillas as well as in other rodents , are constantly growing.

When choosing a chinchilla we must pay attention to the eyes, which must be clear and shiny, the hair that must be taken care of and without flaws, the absence of abrasions or wounds on the skin that may indicate the presence of fungi. It's posture should not be prostrate or show signs of discomfort or pain. If possible, we should also ask about the age, health and mutation of the parents as well as the type of food they are currently eating.