Can Chinchillas Live Outside? [A Potentially Fatal Mistake]

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If you are considering adopting a chinchilla or perhaps recently adopted a chinchilla, you likely have questions, and some of them can result in life or death for your chinchilla with poor planning. One of those questions directly relates to where to house your chinchilla at their new home. Can chinchillas live outside? I have owned a chinchilla for quite some time and have done plenty of research on the topic, so here is what I can offer you on this topic.

So, can chinchillas live outside? No, chinchillas can’t live outside. Chinchillas must remain at regulated temperatures between 50 degrees F and 70 degrees F. Temperatures above this will cause overheating and death. Temps below 50 F will cause illness and death. Chinchillas need to remain indoors only.

I hate to burst your bubble or potentially ruin any future you had drawn up when it comes to your chinchilla’s housing and cage options, but chinchillas absolutely can’t live outside.

If you are willing to hang with me for 2-3 minutes, I’m going to break down the exact reasons as to why chinchillas can’t live outside, considerations to keep in mind and additional safety tips to implement.

Let’s get this party started.

Why Chinchillas Can’t Live Outside Explained

First and foremost, I don’t want any of my readers to be confused. Many of you who own chinchillas or many of you considering purchasing a chinchilla are familiar with the fact that chinchillas naturally are wild animals.

Chinchillas can be referred to as a chinchilla or a chinchilla laniegera. Chinchillas are also native to the Andes mountains in South America. Chinchillas also originate from Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Chili but for the most part, wild chinchillas are typically only found in Chili.

Chinchillas are primarily endangered due to being hunted for their fur. This would leave many of us to believe that chinchillas although hunted and the preyed upon species can certainly live outside. Well, I hate to break it to you, but this is 100% Dead Wrong.

The reason chinchillas can thrive in the geographical locations mentioned previously and live outdoors is due to the mild temperatures, low humidity, and minimal amounts of rain. You see, chinchillas are theoretically easy to care for, but certain situations can’t take place.

For starters, chinchillas can’t exceed the temperatures we discussed at the beginning of this post. Keeping a chinchilla at ideal temperatures is a significant factor, and not doing so can easily cause death.

This is due to their inability to sweat and release heat and the fact that a chinchilla has the densest fur out of any land animal.

Pro Tip- If you feel your chinchilla may potentially be overheating, you can always use my “checking the inside and outside of the ears technique” to determine if they are overheating. It’s easy to do, and blood vessels becoming more visible or the ear turning red is an indicator that your chin is too hot.

Chinchilla’s also can’t drop below certain temperatures to avoid developing respiratory infections and other illnesses that may potentially lead to death and other health problems. Clearly, in most areas of the world, it’s going to be tricky to remain between 50-70 degrees and low humidity at all times.

The only way to do so would be ensuring your chinchilla is housed in a climate-controlled environment indoors to avoid these issues altogether. This isn’t the only concerns you would potentially run into if you attempt to keep your chinchilla outside.

Let’s touch on some of those other potential issues now.

Other Safety Considerations for Your Chinchilla

Another significant factor that you need to keep in mind is the fact that chinchillas also can’t get wet.

While I’m assuming you had no intentions to allow, your chinchilla to free roam or risk the potential of your chinchilla running away from you, other hazards may present themselves that could cause your chinchilla to get wet.

You may not have considered that if you were planning on using some outdoor cage, the cage would still need to breathable which runs the risk of crosswinds and other moisture and water getting to your chinchilla.

A chinchilla’s fur is too dense and can’t dry. This causes the potential that your chinchilla develops fungal infections or other illnesses that can potentially lead to death.

Don’t forget about other animals either. Depending on where you intended on placing your chinchilla if you had the random BAD idea of trying to let your chinchilla live outside, it’s likely that other animals can sniff them out quickly.

Chinchilla’s do have the ability to slip their fur as a defense mechanism, but outside of that, they don’t really stand a chance against other predators.

Lighting Conditions Can Impact Your Chinchilla as Well

This may be a consideration that’s not discussed often, but you need to factor in lighting. Chinchillas are crepuscular rodents and being indoors is something that they can get used to. In fact, chinchillas, in general, adapt to their environment quickly.

However, light shining down on your chinchilla for most of the day may not be the best approach. It’s not that necessarily that chinchillas love the dark. While chinchillas can see in the dark, much like humans and don’t’ necessarily mind light, they do prefer to sleep in dark places.

For example, my chinchilla sleeps most of her day inside of her hut hideout. It makes them feel safe and gives them a sense of security. This is one of the big reasons that chinchilla shouldn’t live outside.

Indoors Doesn’t End Your Safety Concerns

Another significant consideration I want to make sure I hit on for a moment is the fact that chinchillas are also capable of danger when kept indoors. Indoors should 100% be the only option that you consider. However, you also need to make sure that your indoor areas are held at the proper temps.

Additionally, you want a to have all the wires covered that your chinchilla could chew during playtime. Outside of these factors, indoors is 100% safer than any alternative of allowing your chinchilla to live outside. Plain and simple.

Can My Chinchilla Live in My Garage or Shed?

I see this question come up frequently. I understand the inquiry and why you may want to know if this would work. In theory, the answer is yes and no. It entirely depends on the garage or shed. If the garage or shed is climate controlled, then it may be work out okay for you.

For myself, I would never personally do it, but in theory, I can’t say that it wouldn’t work because it may. If your garage or shed is not climate controlled, it’s absolutely off limits, and your chinchilla can’t live inside of these environments. Case closed.

Will A Heat Lamp Improve My Chinchilla’s Chances of Living Outside?

I personally don’t like this either, but I suppose with meticulous planning, it may work okay for you. I would never personally trust it. However, I do know that some people have had success using these methods.

Heat lamps have been used for years for specific pets that need specific temperatures to survive, such as rabbits. However, I would personally be worried in case the heat lamp ever caused to much heat for your chinchilla. Without very close supervision, I don’t think this is a viable path to take.

However, the choice is ultimately yours and if you have a good solid game plan in place, then more power to you and be sure to share your comments and stories below for all the readers.

Putting It All Together, Don’t Let Your Chinchilla Live Outside for Safety

To recap, can chinchillas live outside? No, chinchillas can’t live outside, and you run the risk of death doing so. However, in certain situations using a garage or shed or heat lamp, you may be able to pull off the task.

Again, if it were me, I would only adopt a chinchilla with the intentions of keeping them indoors and not exposed to the outdoor elements.  Of course, that’s only 1 man’s opinion on the matter, and now I’m going to turn the floor over to you.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you believe there are situations where you could have your chinchilla live outside? What leads you to consider this and have you tried it? Be sure to share your stories by dropping a comment below.

As always, me and “chili” appreciate you reading and will catch you next time.

Josh Martin

My Name is Josh and this is my 1 year old female chinchilla "Chili". We created Planet Chinchilla to share all the stories about owning a chinchilla that you need to know.

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