Understanding how to take care of a chinchilla can seem daunting in your first few weeks following the adoption.
That’s why I decided to create this complete chinchilla care guide.
Consider it “Chinchilla Care 101”.
Trust me, I’ve been in your exact situation not long ago and was frustrated at the lack of credible information I could find online.
Taking care of a chinchilla ethically is no more difficult than caring for any other household pet or household rodent if you have a credible source of information to follow.
In fact, taking care of a chinchilla is extremely easy and chinchillas are perhaps one of the easiest animals you can choose to adopt.
Chinchillas make fantastic family pets and the furry creatures seem to be growing in popularity.
As trending as chinchillas are becoming, this doesn’t mean to shortcut the learning phase.
The basics are still imperative to understand when it comes to learning and implementing the best practices for taking care of your new chinchilla.
Due to this, I’ve created this comprehensive chinchilla care guide covering the basics you need to understand when it comes to adopting, caring for, and raising a new chinchilla.
- How to Take Care of a Chinchilla: Chinchilla Care 101
- Top 5 Tips for Providing Great Care to A Chinchilla
- Food, Proper Diets and General Nutrition With Your Chinchilla
- Habitat and Choosing The Best Chinchilla Cage
- Hygiene and Chinchilla Dust Baths
- Behavior and Social Interaction With Chinchillas
- A Quick Care Guide About Building A Bond With Your Chinchilla
- Pairing Chinchillas
- Proper Handling is Critical
- Caring for Pregnant Chinchillas and Baby Chinchillas
- Hopefully, This Chinchilla Care Guide Has Made Things Slightly Easier For You
How to Take Care of a Chinchilla: Chinchilla Care 101
Like I stated before, taking care of a chinchilla is a walk in the park once you have a basic understanding of how to meet their most imperative needs.
For the most part, it’s ensuring you provide an adequate and healthy diet, social activity, and ensuring that you can recognize problems when they do arise.
Of course, hygiene and providing dust baths are a crucial part of the equation as well (we will touch on this later in the post)
To kickstart things and to put your mind at ease, I’ve placed my top tips directly below that will help you provide the best care for your chinchilla.
While the rest of this information I present in this post is equally important, it really comes down to these 5 tips and areas of care that prove to be the most essential for your new chinchilla.
Top 5 Tips for Providing Great Care to A Chinchilla
Below are my 5 top chinchilla care tips you need to be implementing as a chinchilla owner.
All carry heavy importance and are listed in no particular order.
My concern was that I would have readers who bail on the page before at least getting a small nugget of information to implement.
I still fully encourage reading this entire post.
In case you planned to skip town, here are my top 5 chinchilla care tips to always implement when caring for your chinchilla.
#1-Ensure You Implement A Proper Chinchilla Diet (Chinchilla Pellets and Timothy Hay)
#2– Always Be Sure to Have Fresh Water Available
#3-2-3 Dust Baths Per Week at a Minimum
#4–Social Interaction Each Day For 30-60 Minutes
#5-A Proper Sized Chinchilla Cage and A Routine with Cage Cleanings
I know. Crazy!
I was able, to sum up, chinchilla care in only 5 tips.
In all honesty…
It’s very close to all you would need to get the job done but more details do need to be explained.
That’s what the rest of this post is about so let’s start getting into the nitty-gritty details now.
Food, Proper Diets and General Nutrition With Your Chinchilla
Food and proper nutrition are critical to your chinchilla’s diet.
You want to ensure that you are primarily only feeding your chinchilla specially formulated chinchilla pellets.
You also need to ensure that you aren’t trusting just any brand that has a picture of a rodent on it.
Chinchilla formulated pellets can be found just about anywhere.
Amazon, Chewy, or even Petco.
Stick to the correct pellets.
In addition to the chinchilla pellets, you need to ensure you are offering your chinchilla timothy hay daily as well.
Fresh is preferred and your chinchilla may even let you know by throwing the day-old hay out of the cage or removing it from the hay holder that’s attached to the cage.
The biggest mistake I know individuals make with chinchillas is offering too many treats or treats that they shouldn’t be.
Additionally, I have another post that discussed which fruits are permissible for treats.
Proper Weights and Limiting Treats
You may find this odd but it’s easy to ensure you are keeping your chinchilla at the proper weights.
You can do this using a scale and simply placing your chinchilla on the scale every month or so.
Chinchillas need to be at a specific weight to be in a healthy zone.
It will break down the specifics and walk you through the steps, so we can continue pushing forward through this post.
Again, it’s important before moving on too quickly that you understand that treats should be exactly what they sound like.
A “treat” or something that’s not offered every day to your chinchilla.
Too much sugar and other nutritional imbalances can cause digestive issues and stomach issues with your chin.
If you need more information about which treats you should be offering your chinchilla, you can view my post here on that topic.
Plenty of Water Always is Best For Your Chinchilla
In addition to the correct foods and the proper chinchilla diet, you need what every animal needs for your chinchilla.
Plenty of freshwaters is imperative.
Typically, my chinchilla will only drink through a full water bottle about every 4-6 days.
I try and always top off the water bottle when it’s around half-full.
Also, ensure that you always clean your chinchilla’s water bottle to eliminate bacteria growth and other potential issues from showing their face.
You also shouldn’t use bowls for your chinchilla’s water.
Use water bottles only.
Keep the water bottle full and even consider having a backup water bottle attached to the cage at all times.
This is especially important to ensure your chinchilla never reaches a point of dehydration which can become deadly in a hurry for your chinchilla.
To be 100% safe, I have written a post about how to tell if your chinchilla is dehydrated that you can view here.
The biggest tip that makes it easy to tell if your chinchilla may be dehydrated is to visually inspect your chinchillas’ ears.
This can happen on the inside or outside of the ears where you can notice easily depending on the color of your chinchilla.
Up next is an equally important consideration which comes down to your chinchilla cage.
Habitat and Choosing The Best Chinchilla Cage
We know how important a chinchilla’s diet and fresh water is, but this comes in as a close second place when it comes to importance.
Chinchillas absolutely must have a proper sized cage to live in.
Plenty of shelves and other items are also critical inside the cage but nothing is more important than ensuring you have a chinchilla cage that’s the proper size.
Cage Size Matters
The size of the cage matters greatly on all dimensions.
The cage needs to be tall enough, wide enough, and even deep enough so you can fit all the items your chinchilla needs inside of the cage.
This includes a hiding box, hanging chew toys, bridges, ledges, and even a chinchilla hammock to relax and take a nice nap inside.
You can view my post about choosing the safest and best chinchilla hammocks here.
I’m going to direct you to my blog post about how to pick a chinchilla cage and my top picks on the 3 best chinchilla cages you can consider that you can read here.
If you don’t feel like checking out that post, you can save some time and go straight to my recommendation for the best chinchilla cage.
The Critter Nation 2 Dual Level cage (Link to Amazon)
It’s currently the cage I use and love it.
You can read my review of the Critter Nation cage here.
However, for those of you who need options, refer back to the post mentioned previously that gives you my top 3 recommendations.
I’ve purchased each of these cages in that post I’m referring to strictly to review them and inform my readers.
It will cover those details with you to ensure you get the correct cage from the beginning.
Assuming you have the proper cage, and everything is looking good so far, it’s still important to ensure you keep that cage and habitat clean.
Those are the details we are going to cover next so stick around.
Keep the Cage Clean For Your Chinchilla
Now comes the fun part.
The actual work behind owning a chinchilla.
Hey, it can’t be all fun in the sun all the time.
If you are diligent about cleaning the cage often enough.
I won’t break down the entire process in this post but that’s the most significant factor.
Simply clean the cage at least once a week and keep up on keeping the poop nugget swept out daily and this will be an easy task for you.
The link previously mentioned above about the frequency you should be cleaning a chinchilla cage will explain the rest of the process to you in-depth.
Ideal Temperatures Are Imperative
This is equally as important as always making sure that your chinchilla has plenty of water.
Due to a chinchilla’s dense fur, it can become easy for your chinchilla to overheat.
Temperatures are a huge consideration that must be taken seriously.
I have a post about the specific temperatures and how to keep your chinchilla at ideal temperatures that you can read here.
Not following these guidelines can cause issues such as your chinchilla suffering from heatstroke.
Outside Living Is Not an Option For Chinchillas
The last consideration that I see come up often online is dealing with choosing the correct location for your chinchilla cage to be placed and where your chinchilla will physically reside at your home.
If your chinchilla is kept indoors with humidity and climate-controlled settings, you will be fine.
It’s not safe and a recipe for disaster.
The chances of overheating are too high and other factors could impact your chinchilla’s health living outdoors or even within a garage or a shed.
Don’t do this under any circumstances.
Additionally, your chinchilla should not be kept in direct sunlight and needs to be somewhere where they can be somewhat isolated from other pets in the home.
If they are in their cage, this isn’t as big of a concern but if they are ever out for playtime, it’s imperative you don’t have other pets or animals around.
Unless you have tested this in a safe way, your chinchilla doesn’t need to be interacting with your dog.
Well, we have food and nutrition taken care of.
We also know where to keep our chinchillas for safety but now we need to keep our chinchilla clean and that fur as soft as can be.
Here’s the scoop on how to accomplish these tasks with ease.
Hygiene and Chinchilla Dust Baths
Chinchilla hygiene is critical as well.
That fur is beautiful and soft, but it won’t remain that way without proper care.
The great news is that it doesn’t make much to accomplish this.
A dust bath with the correct chinchilla dust is about all that’s necessary.
Outside of this, your chinchilla will self-groom when necessary.
For the full details on these processes, be sure to check out my post about chinchilla hygiene and dust baths that you can view here.
It will break down every possible angle, situation, and give you a step by step guide to making sure your chinchilla remains in tip-top shape.
You can learn how to give a chinchilla a dust bath here.
Frequency and Building a Routine With Your Chinchilla
Inside of the post I just referenced a moment ago for you to check out, you will find this information, but I was worried you wouldn’t go read that post so I wanted to re-cap on one important factor.
Please, always ensure that you are offering your chinchilla a dust bath at least 2-3 times per week.
They love dust baths and it allows them to remain clean while doing what they do in the wild.
It’s the best practice and the ethical approach to maintaining a chinchilla’s hygiene while keeping them happy.
No Worries About Fleas or Allergies With Chinchillas
This is when owning a chinchilla can have some really nice benefits.
Chinchillas are not going to over-activate those allergies.
The dust and dander’s are at a minimum with chinchillas.
If you have allergies frequently or around other animals, this won’t be an issue.
Additionally, it’s a nice relief to know that you have adopted an animal with a fur to dense to allow fleas to enjoy feasting inside of their fur and on their skin.
Their fur is much too dense for this to happen.
I’ve owned a dog my entire life and the ability to raise an interactive and social animal that doesn’t have some of these common pet issues is a very nice relief, to say the least.
With the main categories and points of emphasis explained thus far, it’s time to hit on the factors that go into caring for a chinchilla.
This deals more directly with their personality traits and social behaviors.
Here’s everything you need to know about these topics.
Behavior and Social Interaction With Chinchillas
Chinchillas are extremely social creatures and it’s important to recognize some common behaviors your chinchilla will display.
Not only are they social but they crave this interaction with you and other chinchillas in some circumstances.
It’s important that you realize this and spend a certain amount of time with your chinchilla each day.
No interaction with your chinchilla can cause a chinchilla to become restless, perhaps even destructive within their cage and it doesn’t create a healthy relationship going forward.
It’s much better to use an approach where you attempt to build a bond with your chinchilla as often as possible.
A Quick Care Guide About Building A Bond With Your Chinchilla
This is when building a bond with your chinchilla comes into play.
The good news is that you don’t have to do much to make this happen and after a few short weeks of owning a chinchilla.
Allocate 30-60 minutes per day to interact with your chinchilla and too allow them out of the cage to roam a bit.
If you can’t handle this approach every day of the week, you can rely on a secondary option.
This is when taking the option to pair two chinchillas may be the better approach for you to take to play it safe.
Let’s cover those details now to make sure you are ready for the fun that awaits you.
If you weren’t aware, chinchillas are a creature that runs in packs or “herds” of more than 100 in the wild.
Clearly, unless you have a very large garage and a huge chinchilla budget, we won’t be adopting 100 chinchillas anytime soon.
That doesn’t mean we can’t adopt a second chinchilla or get two chinchillas right out of the gates on day 1.
The bad news is that pairing is not always so simple with domestic chinchillas.
Domestic chinchillas love to interact with one another but that doesn’t mean they pair immediately and often it’s more advised to have chinchillas in separate cages that are near each other.
This isn’t always the case.
If you pair them correctly and they seem to be getting along you may do just fine having two chinchillas in the same cage.
Chinchillas can get violent with each other from time to time so it’s imperative to be paying attention and ready for that scenario.
I also have a post that helps detail this in more depth for you.
It’s all about if chinchillas do better in pairs that you can see here.
It’s also important that individuals considering adopting a chinchilla understand that owning 2 chinchillas is not absolutely necessary.
I have a post discussing if chinchillas can be alone that you can see here for more information.
Proper Handling is Critical
Proper handling is also crucial with chinchillas.
This is going to help avoid injury and purely make your chinchilla feel safe.
If you don’t handle your chinchilla correctly, they will feel insecure in your arms and will attempt to jump or run away from your grasp.
Not understanding the proper handling skills can also make it very difficult to catch your chinchilla when you need to hold them or return them to their cage.
An easy method to use is the “base of the tail technique” which you can read about here.
The sooner you can learn to handle and hold your chinchilla properly, the sooner your chinchilla will feel safe with you and be more open to you holding them and having your much-desired cuddle sessions.
Don’t worry about grabbing your chinchilla by the base of the tail either.
You can also view my post about how to get your chinchilla to enjoy being held here.
You can also learn how to get a chinchilla in and out of the cage properly here.
Caring for Sick Chinchillas
With proper care and the correct chinchilla diet, hopefully, you don’t run across this issue very often but nonetheless, it does happen and it isn’t much you can do about.
The key is trying to avoid it altogether.
In most circumstances, you only have two factors that are going to cause illness in your chinchilla most frequently.
- Digestive Issues
- Teeth Issues
To avoid digestive issues, it’s best to stick to chinchilla formulate pellets and timothy hay and always limit the number of treats you provide your chinchilla on a regular basis.
Additionally, never place harmful items in your chinchilla cage that they could eat and cause further concerns to arise.
Dental Care is Critical With Chinchillas
Overgrown teeth are also an issue with chinchillas.
One of the best ways to avoid this is to always have plenty of items inside of the cage for your chinchilla to chew to help keep their teeth filed and in good dental hygiene strength.
A chinchilla’s teeth can grow up 2-4 inches per year.
If their teeth get too long and they don’t chew or file them down, they can begin to catch or puncture the flesh inside of the chinchilla’s mouth causing injury, illness, infection, and of course pain.
Recognizing Illness with Your Chinchilla
While these are the common injuries and illnesses you may face, you still must be able to recognize if a problem is occurring with your chinchilla.
For teeth issues, you can often spot the problem early by noticing watery eyes, rubbing at the mouth, drooling, and avoiding eating.
Pay attention to certain signs such as teeth grinding.
I have a post that you can read that explains why chinchillas grind their teeth that you can see here.
It will help to give you an understanding of when you have an issue with your chinchillas’ teeth and when it’s likely nothing to worry about.
Calling the Vet When Necessary
Additionally, you can’t always rely on yourself to fix the issues and need to recognize when you need to call a vet to take care of teeth issues when they occur.
The pain and future issues they can cause is not something to leave un-noticed and only a professional can help.
Additionally, you need to make sure that it’s a vet that’s qualified to work with chinchillas or has knowledge of chinchillas.
Not all vets have this background and may not be as big of a help as you may have hoped.
Do your homework ahead of time such as adoption to avoid the hassle and scramble when an issue does occur down the road.
Caring for Pregnant Chinchillas and Baby Chinchillas
Pregnant chinchillas are also a consideration to keep in mind.
Especially if you are considering breeding or looking forward to some baby chinchillas in the future.
Pregnant chinchillas, for the most part, don’t need much special care but if you have paired chinchillas, you need to isolate the pregnant mother chin.
Male chinchillas may not recognize that the female is carrying babies and still attempt some freaky business.
It’s best for the mother and the baby chinchilla’s safety and wellbeing to ensure that you isolate your chin and keep tabs on their behavior and health during the long 110-day gestation period.
Newborn or Baby Chinchillas
Caring for newborn chinchillas is a bit more involved then we will touch on this post.
However, I can tell you that newborn chinchillas are just as energetic, happy, and fun to be around.
Newborn chinchillas also need time to get nutrition from the mother chinchilla for 6-8 weeks following the birth.
It’s also smart to use a wooden box or separate spaces for each baby chinchilla within the cage with the mother due to their small feet that can get caught on cage bars or even cage items.
If your mother is present, you will be able to allow the mother to provide nutrition to the newborns.
However, if you are dealing with orphaned chinchillas you may have to supplement their nutrition with something such as warm kitten milk.
Also, ensure you are tracking your newborn chins’ weight on a scale to ensure they are growing at the appropriate pace.
In 2-3 weeks, you can begin offering orphaned baby chinchillas chinchilla pellets.
Again, if the mom is present you can use the mother for nutrition for a longer period and that’s the healthiest approach to take to ensure your baby chinchillas grow up healthy and strong.
Hopefully, This Chinchilla Care Guide Has Made Things Slightly Easier For You
This post may have seemed long-winded but having a full chinchilla care guide or understanding chinchilla care 101 is imperative for your ability to take care of your chinchilla properly moving forward.
It’s a walk in the park once you get a feel for your chinchillas’ behavior and how they interact with you as the owner.
Remember before the post began and hit full speed?
I was able, to sum up, how easy chinchillas are to care for in 5 tips.
In all reality, those 5 tips are a bulk of the workload, and following these tips can go a long way towards making sure your chinchilla is happy and healthy.
Share Your Thoughts and Advice on Providing Top Knotch Chinchilla Care
As always, I love to get my readers to provide feedback on the topic.
What additional chinchilla care tips do you have to add to this list?
What do you recommend to the readers to ensure they are providing the best options and learning how to take care of their chinchillas in the best fashion?
Be sure to share your stories and drop a comment below.
Me and “chili” appreciate you stopping by and will catch you next time.