Chinchillas make wildly amusing, playful, as well as loveable pets. A chinchilla with good diet and husbandry can remain in your family anywhere for over 20 years with average life spans over 10 years. The average male chinchilla weighs between 400-500 grams, while the females can reach 600 grams. Chinchillas love to play and require lots of attention from their owners. Supervised playtime is the best way for you and your chinchilla to interact and bond. Since they love to chew and are extremely curious, check that electrical cords, toxic plants, or anything breakable is out of reach of your chinchilla.
The Chinchilla is unique in their its grooming habits. Unlike most mammals, the chinchilla does not bathe in water. Instead, they take dust baths. A wet bath mats hair and strip natural oils which protect their skin and help regulate body temperature. The dust bath is done in volcanic dust, common in thier native homes in the Andes. This dust that can be purchased at your local pet shop, or from most chinchilla breeders.
For approximately ten minutes, every day or every other day, place a deep bowl containing a small amount of the dust in your pet’s cage. Sit back and watch as your chinchilla rolls, flips, and plays in the dust! It is always best to remove the dusting container immediately after a bath to prevent the dust from being soiled with feces, food, or bedding.
The basic chinchilla diet consists of a small amount of chinchilla pellets, along with a good quality grass hay. If chinchilla pellets are difficult to find, they can be substituted with rabbit or guinea pig pellets. Be sure the food stays fresh and clean. Chinchillas can be offered treats of fresheafy green vegetables kept to a minimum. Most chinchillas love a raisin or an apple slice as a treat! Water should be offered in a bottle placed on the outside of the cage. The water should be changed, and the bottle thoroughly cleaned at least every other day to prevent harmful bacteria growth.
Since chinchillas love to jump, run and play, wire cages are most suitable for pet chinchillas. An adequate size cage for a single chinchilla is 3 feet by 2 feet. Of course, the bigger the cage, the more room they have to run and play, resulting in a happier pet, along with more entertainment for you! The bedding of the cage should be carefully considered. Try to avoid wood shavings that can irritate their delicate noses or complicate their breathing. Our hospital recommends a product called Carefresh, a paper based bedding that is soft and absorbent, however, something as plain as newspaper works well too. Location of the cage is a vital decision. Be sure to avoid any drafts, damp rooms, direct sunlight, or heat sources.
Overgrown teeth is a common problem among chinchillas. The spurs or points of the teeth can do serious damage to your chinchilla if it goes untreated. Watch for any changes in your chinchillas eating habits, excessive drooling, or even diarrhea. Having your vet perform an oral exam on your chinchilla can help prevent the teeth from overgrowing. If you observe any of these signs you should see your veterinarian immediately.
Chinchillas are intolerant of hot temperatures over 80*F. During hot and humid weather, use room or ceiling fans to cool the room, place bottles of frozen water in the cage, or turn on the air conditioner if you have one. Avoid direct sunlight and car trips in the heat.
Become familiar with a normal stool for your chinchilla. Being able to recognize changes in your pets feces can help you catch problems before it becomes to advanced. If your chinchilla has diarrhea, feed hay only (hold back on the treats) until stool is formed. Offer lots of water to replace lost fluids. If the diarrhea continues, or your chinchilla stops eating or drinking, a trip to the vet is a must. Small fecal pellets are a sign that your pets food intake is reduced. This may signal dental problems.
Artcle by By Christine Hancock