What is a Chinchilla?
A Chinchilla is an adorable little creature with a funny name! No but seriously, a Chinchilla is a crepuscular rodent native to the Andes Mountains in South America. The animal, whose name literally means "small Chincha", is named after the Chincha people who lived in the Andes. Chinchillas live up to 10 or more years depending on it's care and breeding. The average adult Chinchilla is 12 inches long and weighs between 16 to 38 ounces, putting them at the size of a small rabbit.
Chin-Chins are social animals and often do well with a second Chinchilla, but are ok on their own. If you keep only a single Chinchilla it will hold a very strong bond with you, but if you have two Chins, they will most likely have a stronger bond with each other. If you do keep more than one Chinchilla in the same cage, make sure they are of the same sex to prevent breeding. Chinchilla breeding should be left to the experts. If you are not sure of the sex of your chinchillas, take them to a vet or expert breeder to be checked.
Chins are very active creatures that love to climb, run, and jump. They need a lot of room to play and exercise, and may things to play on. Chinchillas are also very vocal animals and can make a wide range of noises. They chirp and squeak when they are happy.
Is a Chinchilla the right pet for me?
There are many questions to answer before you decide to adopt a Chinchilla!
*Do you live in a rent house or an apartment where you have a landlord? If so, check with them first to make sure small animals are allowed in your home. There may be a security deposit and/or additional rent required. Make sure your budget will allow for this.
*Do you have time in your schedule to properly care for this little bundle of joy? Do you have room in your budget for all of it's expenses?*Do you have a safe area in your home for a roomy cage?*Do you have any other pets or small children that may harm or scare the Chinchilla?
Chin-Chin Must Haves!
Chinchillas are becoming very popular as pets! To properly care for a Chin, you will need these things!
Cage/Habitat: A very large, multi-tiered habitat will be the most suitable for a Chin, as they love to climb and jump. (Keep in mind, the more chinchillas in a cage the larger it should be. If you have two chinchillas in a cage meant for one, this can cause many problems, such as irritability, fighting, illness, injury, and more.) They will need many things to play on like shelves and ramps. The bottom of the cage should have at least a two inch layer of bedding. Aspen wood shavings and paper bedding work best. Do not use ceder or pine bedding, as they can lead to respiratory and eye problems. Your Chinchilla's cage should be cleaned at least once a week and spot cleaned when necessary. (If multiple Chins are living together in a cage it should be cleaned at least 2-3 times a week with daily spot cleaning.) When buying a cage remember that most store sold cages are too small for a multiple (and sadly often a single) Chin. You may need to special order a larger cage, build one yourself, or connect multiple cages. When buying a cage, try to get the biggest cage you have room for in your home and that you can afford. For a Chin Chin, a cage can never be too big!
Food: Like all creatures, Chinchillas need to eat! Fresh Chinchilla food pellets should always be available for him/her to eat throughout the day. Chin-Chins should also have access to fresh timothy hay at all times. You can purchase a hay rack from most pet shops or online to hold the hay so it does make the cage floor messy. Limited amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables can be offered as treats but should not exceed 10% of your Chinchilla's diet. Also, any uneaten fruits or veggies should be removed from the cage after 24 hours. We don't want a sick Chin! You will also need to provide your Chin-Chin with chew sticks at all times.
Food Bowl and Water Bottle: You will need a bowl to hold food in. A ceramic bowl will work best as it will be harder for your Chinchilla to tip it over and spill his/her food. To provide your Chin with water, use a water bottle, and NOT a bowl. Chinchilla's can get a fur fungus if their fur gets wet, and bowls provide an unnecessary opportunity for this to happen. The water will also get dirty quickly if in a bowl, or they may dump the bowl and spill water. Fresh water should be provided daily.
Running Wheel/flying saucer: Chinchillas are very active little creatures that love to run and play. They need an exercise wheel or flying saucer running disk to ensure they have plenty of exercise. The wheel or saucer should be large enough that your pet's back does not arch when they run. It is better to use a saucer for Chinchillas, but a wheel will work too.
House: Everyone needs some privacy now and then! Provide your Chin with a little house that he/she can sleep in. Make sure it is large enough for them to fit in comfortably! Shredded toilet paper or timothy hay is a great nesting material. (If you have more than one Chinchilla, they should each have a house, and one of them should be large enough for them both to sleep in.)
Baths: You should never get a Chin-Chin wet, but you can give them sand baths! All you need is a bath house and Chinchilla sand! Chins need a sand bath at least once a week, twice preferably.
Toys: Chinchillas like to play with toys. Try giving them little balls and toilet paper rolls to push around.
Chinchillas are high-energy little creatures but they are gentle and intelligent. Adding a Chinchilla to you family is a great idea (as long as your capable of properly caring for one).
I hope you all enjoyed this post. I'm sorry to all my ham-ham fans! I know I've veered off the topic of Hamsters, and I promise Hamster Talk! still has a main focus of hamsters! Soon I will be posting more things on hamsters! Until then!