Some things you just don’t think of before adopting a pet.
The kind of lighting they prefer is probably one of them.
I know I never considered it until the day I brought my chinchilla home.
Then I realized I didn’t know if I should leave a light on overnight or not. And if so, how bright should it be?
Can chinchillas see anything in the dark at all?
Can they somewhat see, or do they see everything clearly, like cats or other nocturnal creatures?
These are things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. And I certainly didn’t know I should know them.
Luckily, you won’t have the same problem. Keep reading for al the answers you need.
Can Chinchillas See in The Dark?
I have now been raising my chinchilla for the past 5 years and here is what I can tell you on this topic.
Yes, chinchillas can see in the dark. A chinchilla’s night vision works much like ours.
This means their night vision is not as strong and clear as it is with proper lighting, but they can still see better the dark than we can.
This is due to having more rods than humans (more on this later).
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 has some light present) don’t make a drastic change and shift to complete darkness.
This may scare your chinchilla or put it into a panic. Instead, break it in slowly if you plan on making changes.
Slow And Gradual Changes To Lighting Are Best
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.
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.
It should also be noted that a chinchilla does not necessarily need any form of light at night if you haven’t already gotten it accustomed to light in the past.
It will not be scared without light and it can arguably make it even more difficult for your chinchilla to adapt to its natural day and night cycles.
I would consider this a case by case situation and nobody understands your chinchilla as much as you do, so ultimately you need to make that decision.
I wouldn’t recommend going straight from lighting to total darkness, no matter what. It will likely result in 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.
My chinchilla even 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?
Yes, chinchillas have good eyesight. In fact, chinchillas may have better eyesight than we do.
They can see adequately to move about their day. However, compared to other senses, eyesight is likely not their strongest..
Chinchillas are even known to lose their eyesight entirely in the final years of life, but this typically does not take place until after the age of 15.
Do Chinchillas Like Light?
Chinchillas do not 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.
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 although they are considered “color-blind”. This is because being color blind does not always mean that you cannot see any color at all.
Chinchillas do have poor eyesight compared to their other senses like hearing and smell, but chinchillas are 100% capable of seeing color. This is due to the natural anatomy of the chinchilla eye and pupils.
Should I Leave A Light On For My Chinchilla?
Yes, chinchillas should have some form of 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.
Not having adequate light may scare your chinchilla or cause them not to be able 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 cutting 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 it awake.
At the very least it will help it see as it moves around its cage and it will likely be happier having the light than being in total darkness.
Some people ask “Should I cover my chinchilla’s cage?” That is not a good idea for a number of reasons. Follow that link for more on this.
Chinchillas Seeing In The Dark: Final Thoughts
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. 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 it is trying to communicate to you, you will be just fine.
Chili and I wish you the best of luck with your new chinchilla and the journey you have ahead of you.
What are your thoughts on whether chinchillas need light at night?
Do you think chinchillas see well in the dark?
What’s your approach and how do you have your lighting set up for your chinchilla?
Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.
As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today and we will see you again next time.