Can Chinchillas See in The Dark? [Don’t Make Drastic Changes]



Chinchillas are unique animals and make for great pets for many reasons.

However, chinchillas are also somewhat mysterious with some of their behaviors and abilities.

This can leave us with questions about how to ensure they have the proper care.

I currently keep my chinchilla in my basement for several reasons that we will discuss later in this post.

However, I found myself with a particular question.

Can chinchillas see in the dark?

After some testing with my own chinchilla and some further research, here is what I can tell you on this subject.

So, can chinchillas see in the dark? Yes, chinchillas can see in the dark. Chinchilla’s vision in the dark works much like our vision works in the dark. Chinchilla’s vision won’t be as strong and clear as it is with proper lighting, but chinchillas can see objects and recognize their surroundings in the dark.

I’m sure you are curious as to why I wanted to know the answer to this question?

Well, it’s simple.

I had no idea if I should leave a light on for my chinchilla in the basement, use some form of a nightlight or figure out something separate in terms of lighting for my chinchilla.

I wanted to make sure that not only my chinchilla was comfortable in the ideal temperatures, but I also wanted her to warm up to her new home quickly.

I also wanted her to feel safe when she is alone at night or for the weekend.

If you stick around for a moment, I’m going to break down some further information about chinchillas’ vision and behaviors and attempt to answer all related questions on this subject.

Let’s get started.

Can Chinchillas See In The Dark

To recap, chinchillas can see in the dark in the same fashion we can.

We recognize surroundings and have a feel for what’s in front of us if we are not in total blackness or complete darkness.

Chinchillas are very smart and can adapt to lighting changes.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should make drastic changes.

Chinchillas get used to their environment.

This is one of the most significant parts of the breaking in process with your chinchilla.

It takes time for them to warm up to their surroundings and to warm up to you as their new owner.

If you started your chinchilla living in an area of the home that’s usually well-lit or at least as some light present, don’t make a drastic change and shift them to complete darkness.

This may scare your chinchilla or put them into a panic.

Instead, break them in slowly if you plan on making changes.

Slow and Gradual Changes To Lighting Are Best For Chinchillas

With my chinchilla, I went through this process in the first month of having her.

My basement has several lights, and one of the bulbs is more “dim” but located relatively close to her cage.

I thought she would sleep better if she had a nice and cold basement and less light.

This was not the case.

The sudden change to less light had her more active at night and climbing more frantically and making her typical chinchilla sounds.

I realized within a day that she had gotten used to that light and it’s better to leave it on for her at night.

Your chinchilla will still sleep and be happy with a night light on.

If, however, you do want to make a change to a darker scenario, try and do it slowly.

Perhaps try a light that’s further away to make it darker but not total darkness and then switch to a lamp in the room or even a nightlight.

I wouldn’t recommend going straight from lighting to total darkness without your chinchilla being a little less friendly and possibly frantic due to the change.

Chinchillas are very loving creatures, but they are creatures of habit and get used to their routine very quickly.

Everything down to their dust baths and cage cleanings, they get used to and almost have the timing down to a T.

Even my chinchilla seems to know when I’m getting prepared to clean her cage and gets front and center near the front of the cage to come out and run around for a bit.

Do Chinchillas Have Good Eyesight?

No, chinchillas don’t have good eyesight.

They can see adequately to move about their day and fully function but compared to their other senses such as smell and hearing, chinchillas have poor eyesight.

Chinchillas are even known to lose their eyesight entirely in the final years or “older years of life,” but this typically does not take place until after the age of 15.

Do Chinchillas Like Light?

Chinchilla don’t like nor dislike light.

They get used to their environment and don’t prefer drastic changes to happen quickly.

However, chinchillas should not be in direct sunlight or natural light in the room they are in your home.

This could cause overheating for your chinchilla due to their dense fur and should be avoided.

Outside of this, you should pick the lighting scenario you want for the room your chinchilla will live in to remain consistent to avoid your chinchilla being uncomfortable or scared by the changes.

This will ensure your chinchilla remains happy and healthy.

Do Chinchillas See Color?

Yes, chinchillas can see color like all small mammals.

Chinchillas do have poor eyesight compared to their other senses such as hearing and smell, but chinchillas are 100% capable of seeing color.

Should I Leave a Light on For My Chinchilla?

Yes, chinchillas should have some form a night light when they sleep in a dark room.

If the room is very dark at night, it’s good to have a night light on for them so they can see to get around their cage to eat, play with their favorite items and even to urinate.

Chinchillas don’t prefer to urinate near their food bowl but will poop everywhere.

Not having adequate light may scare your chinchilla or cause them not to be able to to do their necessary things overnight freely.

Like I stated before if your chinchilla has been used to bright light in the room, I recommend keeping it this way or gradually cut the light back for your chinchilla over several days or even a week.

At the very least, I’d at least provide your chinchilla with a nightlight plugged into an outlet or even a dim lamp in the room.

It will not bother your chinchilla or keep them awake.

At the very least it will help them to see as they move around their cage and they will likely be happier having the light than total darkness.

Let Your Chinchilla Get Used to One Lighting Setting and Keep Them Comfortable

Chinchillas make fantastic pets, and it’s essential we provide them safe and ethical homes to live in.

This includes the smallest things like honoring their lighting preferences.

If your chinchilla reacts poorly to a light that used to be on being turned off, then just turn it back on.

If you have a desire to darken the room, take it slowly to avoid scaring your chinchilla.

I’m sure some will disagree with me about the lighting situation, but it’s what I’ve noticed with my chinchilla, and she absolutely goes nuts if I turn off the primary light she has been used to having on since owning her.

If you are aware of your chinchilla’s body language and what they are trying to communicate to you, you will be just fine.

What’re your thoughts on if chinchillas need light or no light in the room they live?

Do you think chinchillas see well in the dark?

What’s your approach and room set up like for your chinchilla?

Be sure to drop a comment below and as always, thanks for stopping by.

I appreciate you.


Josh Martin

My Name is Josh and this is my 4 year-old female chinchilla "Chili". We created Planet Chinchilla to share all the stories about owning a chinchilla that you need to know. I'm the Author of the eBook "The Ultimate Chinchilla Care Guide, From Adoption and On"

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