34 Surprising Characteristics of The Chinchilla [+Fun Facts]

Chinchillas are a unique rodent growing in popularity as an adorable and excellent family pet.

However, I’ve noticed when even introducing my chinchilla to friends who casually stop by my home that they tend to be curious about this rodent and shocked that it’s a popular option as a pet and even sold/ available for adoption in most pet stores.

This tends to spur tons of questions about the physical characteristics and even the behavioral characteristics of the chinchilla.

I get it. When we think of new rodents that we would adopt, we think of the common pets such as hamsters, rabbits, and even Guinea pigs.

Well, due to the curiosity I experienced on a personal level in my own life, I began thinking to myself that it must be something others get curious about as well.

That’s why this post is being composed. It’s designed to be nothing but fun and informative and to give all of you that are curious 34 surprising and interesting facts about the physical and behavioral characteristics of the chinchilla.

I plan to break down the physical facts and characteristics separately from the behavioral and entertaining characteristics that you can expect from a chinchilla.

I also wanted to make life easy on you to navigate this post quickly, so I have included easy to use links directly below that will allow you to skip to any specific section of this post that you desire to learn more about.


Here the breakdown, facts, and characteristics of the chinchilla I plan on detailing today for you:

As stated previously, if you want to skip around, feel free and use the links above.

Otherwise, let’s dive into these fun facts about the furry and beloved chinchilla.

9 Physical Characteristics of The Chinchilla

#1-Crazy Dense and Soft Fur Coats

If you weren’t already aware, chinchillas have incredibly dense fur.

This helps to keep other issues such as fleas and mites at bay.

It also requires some proper care to maintain, such as dust baths and proper temperatures to ensure overheating doesn’t take place.

Nonetheless, the feeling of a chinchilla’s fur is perhaps the softest animal you will ever interact with.

Seriously, it’s incredible.

#2-Constantly Growing Teeth

Chinchilla’s teeth grow throughout their entire life. This is common with many rodents.

All that’s required to ensure you provide the proper care to a chinchilla is enough items to chew on safely.

A proper diet is also required to ensure you allow them to file down their teeth and prevent infections and overgrowing teeth issues.

It’s been said that a chinchilla without the ability to chew and file down their teeth that they can grow multiple inches in a single year.

Ensure that if you plan to adopt one of these friendly creatures that you provide the necessary items to prevent issues with this in the future.

#3-Only Four Toes?

Yep, that’s right, my friends. Chinchillas have small and fragile feet, and it’s one of the reasons that many experts and other chinchilla owners advise against wire bottom cages.

Compared to other animals, chinchillas are unique in the fact that they only have four toes.

#4-Multiple Mutations, Adaptations, and Colors

Let’s be clear about 1 thing.

Any color and any mutation/adaptation of chinchilla will make a great pet and they are all adorable creatures.

However, I bet you would be surprised to know that chinchillas are bred in more than 20 colors in total.

Talk about options.

To learn more about this topic, be sure to visit my post about the color and mutation options you have when adopting a chinchilla from a local breeder near you.

#5-Bold and Black Eyes

This is a distinctive trait of the chinchilla and part of what makes them unique and adorable pets.

The curious but large black and beady eyes that stare right at you patiently waiting to be let out of their cage for some much-needed playtime.

#6-Fragile Ribs and Small Bones

Perhaps this isn’t something you can notice at first glance due to their thick fur but it is something that you need to be leery of as an actual chinchilla owner.

Especially when it comes to holding and physically picking up your chinchilla.

Beneath those dense fur coats, chinchillas have tiny and fragile rib cages and fragile bones in general.

It’s essential to learn how to handle a chinchilla properly and to bond your chinchilla to enjoy being held slowly.

If you need help with this specific topic, you can read my guide about to make a chinchilla enjoy being held here.

#7-Sensitive and Small Digestive Systems

Yep, it doesn’t take much to upset the belly with these rodents.

It’s one of the reasons it’s always imperative to ensure you are providing the correct chinchilla diets.

This typically will consist of primarily timothy hay and chinchilla formulated pellets.

Other items such as fruits that are offered in too high of quantities or items they shouldn’t be ingesting in general need to be avoided without the proper knowledge first.

You can learn more about what fruits a chinchilla can and can’t eat here.

#8-Light as a Feather

Chinchillas are about as agile and lightweight as it gets.

Sure, other rodents such as mice are smaller and weigh less, but in general, a chinchilla is a small and lightweight creature.

In fact, chinchilla rarely grows over roughly 1-3lbs in total.

3 pounds being the extreme end.

Overall, if you have been considering the ultimate soft, cozy, and pocket-sized pet, a chinchilla may just be the best fit for you.

#9-Adorable and Small Ears

Chinchillas also have tiny ears. When alert and active, you may notice their ears are up, and when in a shy or scared mode, you may notice their ears down.

Another fun fact, if your chinchilla is possibly too hot or overheating, noticing the inside of the ears turning red or showing blood vessels is a sign that you would want to end playtime and allow your chinchilla to cool down.

Now that we know just how cute these chinchillas can be let’s talk about what kind of behavioral characteristics you can expect from a chinchilla.

11 Behavioral Characteristics of the Chinchilla

#1- The Ability to Love and Show Affection

This is perhaps one of the most desired traits you can experience with a chinchilla.

Chinchillas are affectionate animals capable of growing close and intimate bonds with their owners and other family members.

Sure, sometimes it can take some time for this bond to grow, but overall, your chinchilla will grow to love you and respect you.

#2- Crazy Jumping and Climbing Abilities

This is not only fun to watch but requires some work on your end on the as the chinchilla owner.

Chinchillas in the wild have the ability and desire to jump and climb.

In fact, a chinchilla can jump nearly 6 feet in the air.

Not only do you need to proof your rooms where your chinchilla can play, but you also have to ensure that you have a cage large enough to promote this.

I always recommend the Critter Nation 2 Dual Level Cage (Link to Amazon)

However, I know that chinchilla owners prefer to spice up their chinchilla’s environment in their own unique ways.

With that being the case, I simply recommend reading my guide on how to choose the best chinchilla cage here.

It will help you find a vertically large enough cage for any budget and will surely allow you to give your chinchilla the space they want and desire to remain happy and healthy.

#3- Naturally a Scared and Timid Creature

This is especially true after the initial adoption with most chinchillas. It takes a few weeks for a chinchilla to adapt to their new environment fully.

Due to being an animal heavily preyed upon in the wild, a chinchilla naturally has a brain programmed to remain scared and run away from danger.

Doing some small things, such as providing a nesting box, can ensure that your chinchilla always has space inside of their cage and habitat that makes them feel safe.

Outside of that, simply give it time, and their timid phase will end, and they will be excited to see you each day.

Patience is key.

#4- Sometimes Cuddly, Sometimes Not

I know, I know.

This can either be exciting to hear or to disappoint to hear.

Unfortunately, it’s the truth. Some chinchillas are naturally more cuddly than other chinchillas.

I feel as if my own 3-year-old female chinchilla is a cuddly pet, but then I see videos of other chinchilla owners interacting with their chinchilla and realize that some chinchillas are even more cuddly than mine.

It’s just the way it goes to my friends.

Keep that patience and keep building the bond, and you will be surprised at how cuddly a chinchilla can become.

#5- Dusk and Dawn Adventurist

Oh no! Finally, a potentially negative trait about a chinchilla. Well, not really.

It’s just a solid reason not to let your chinchilla cage be in your bedroom. Chinchillas are nocturnal and are naturally the most active at dusk and dawn.

Don’t believe me?

Buy yourself a camera and leave it to record for one day. You will notice these little furry creatures getting most of their fun and exercise in during these times.

#6- Hiders and Naturally Curious

Sounds like a catch-22 doesn’t it?

Well, it’s also true. When your chinchilla is out to play, they will want to explore anything and everything.

It’s just how they are. At the same time, around new people or a new environment, you may catch them hiding most of the time in their hiding box until they adjust.

Give it time, and they will eventually start spending less and less time inside of that nesting box.

#7-Social and The Desire For Interaction

Chinchillas are incredibly social.

In fact, a lack of social interaction from you or even a second chinchilla can cause a chinchilla to begin entering a depressed phase.

They have emotions just like you and me.

If you adopt a chinchilla, be sure to spend some time with them when time permits or considering getting a second chinchilla for them to interact with.

#8- The Ability to Live with Other Chinchillas

Compared to other pets such as even a ferret, a chinchilla is completely capable of being housed with other chinchillas.

Ferrets, on the other hand, are the complete opposite.

They don’t necessarily need a cage mate nor desire one.

This can make owning a chinchilla a lot of fun for the mere fact that you can expand the number of chins you have in the future.

#9- No Biting (For the Most Part)

One of the things I love most about my chinchilla is her gentle nature. Not just with myself but even with my young 3-year-old son.

Chinchillas, in general, are not known to bite.

They are gentle.

However, this doesn’t mean that a chinchilla will never bite.

If you don’t do anything to make them feel threatened and build a bond with them, eventually, your chinchilla will grow to love you, and biting is not something you need to be concerned with.

#10- Loving Some Dust

If you haven’t seen a chinchilla take a dust bath, you are missing out.

They absolutely love it, and it’s all that’s needed for them to maintain proper hygiene and to remain clean.

A chinchilla in their dust bath is pure joy for them.

Ensure that you are providing this 2-3 times per week.

If you need to learn more about the best dust to use for a chinchilla, you can view my post on the topic here.

#11- Receptive to Treats

Yep, even a chinchilla will love some treats. This can range from safe options such as fruits, raisins, and dried oats.

Don’t overdo this, but make sure to show some love from time to time and offer a treat to your chinchilla.

Trust me, they will be receptive and happy you offered.

14 Other Fun and Interesting Facts

Well, we have covered what you can expect and the physical characteristics of a chinchilla and even the behavior characteristics of a chinchilla.

Now it’s time just to discuss some fun facts about chinchillas in general.

Here’s a quick look at them.

#1- Chinchillas Live A Long Time

Chinchillas are one of the longest living rodents you can adopt. They have long life spans if they are well cared for.

Up to 20+ years in many circumstances.

In my opinion, this is one of the reasons that chinchillas make such an excellent option for a family pet.

Talk about the opportunity to build a bond that will last several decades.

#2- Chinchillas Have Always Been Preyed Upon

Part of the reason’s chinchillas have the personality and behavior characteristics that they do, such as hiding or even running away is purely because they have always been the hunted.

Other animals in the wild and even humans hunted chinchillas for either food or to make luxurious clothing apparel from their dense fur.

It’s no wonder they take a few weeks to build some trust and naturally like to sit inside that hiding box until they feel comfortable.

It’s just what they are programmed to do.


#3- Chinchillas Need Specific Temperatures and Humidity Levels

Due to a chinchilla having such dense fur, they can overheat very quickly.

This makes it imperative for a chinchilla to remain at specific temperatures in order to survive.

It’s also the reason I have a post dedicated to how to keep your chinchilla at ideal temperatures that you can see here.

#4- Chinchillas Shed Minimally and Produce Minimal Dander

I love this fact about chinchillas. It keeps my house clean; my chins cage clean and is excellent for anyone with allergies to pets.

Chinchillas shed very minimally. Almost not at all.

They also produce limited dander.

Sure, they do shed lightly, but overall and compared to other pets, you will be delighted with the amount of shedding you notice throughout the course of owning a chinchilla.

#5- Chinchillas Can Live Off Only Hay, Pellets and Water

Not only can a chinchilla live primarily off hay, pellets, and water, but they should.

Chinchillas have very sensitive digestive tracts, and too much of food outside of these recommendations can cause stomach issues or even blockages.

Sugar and foods high in acidy can really wreak havoc on a chinchilla’s stomach.

This makes life easy, in my opinion.

Outside of ensuring you have the correct hay, pellets, and some water, you don’t have much else you need to do in order to ensure that your chinchilla is peak health and nutrition.

#6- Chinchillas Can Be Potty Trained (Kind of)

Yep, I bet you didn’t see this one coming, did you? It’s not the most straightforward task to complete, but it can be done.

Unfortunately, you can’t train a chinchilla to poop in a litter pan. They poop far too much for this to happen, but with some effort, it’s entirely possible to train a chinchilla to urinate in a litter pan instead of urinating on shavings or fleece liners inside of the cage.

The major upside, in my opinion.

If you need further information about the best chinchilla bedding options, you can view my post here.

#7- Chinchillas Love Toys and Accessories

Sure, this may cost you a few extra bucks, but it’s essential in order to ensure your chinchilla has plenty to do inside of their cage to remain mentally stimulated.

Chinchillas will interact with all sorts of unique toys such as hanging hammocks, long tunnels, and chew toys dangling from the cage.

A chinchilla using these items with frequency is also a great way for you to know if your chinchilla is happy.

If they aren’t using them often, it could be a sure sign that your chinchilla is stressed.

Be sure to provide your chinchilla with the ability to have plenty of these items available to them inside of their cage.

If you need further details on this information, be sure to check out my post about the best chinchilla accessories you can purchase here.

#8- Chinchillas Love to Chew

Going back to the previous fun fact, part of the reason these accessories are needed for a chinchilla is for the mere fact that a chinchilla loves to chew.

Not only do they love to chew, but they also need to chew to help keep their filed down.

Just be sure to protect your chinchilla from chewing dangers when they are outside of their cage by doing things such as covering wires and keeping harmful and toxic items away from them.

#9- Water is Dangerous for Chinchillas

Don’t get confused here, my friends. Chinchillas always need an unlimited supply of water for drinking purposes only.

It also needs to come from a water bottle to prevent bacteria.

However, chinchillas should never be physically getting wet such as taking a traditional bath.

A chinchilla’s fur makes it too difficult for them to dry and getting wet can lead to infections and potentially even death.

#10- Chinchillas Are Brilliant Rodents

I’ve owned a chinchilla for a long time. These creatures will amaze you with their intelligence.

From understanding their own names, recognizing you as the owner, or even understanding when it’s time to come out play still impresses me to this day.

#11- Chinchillas Groom Themselves

This is a sort of a groom themselves kind of deal.

Chinchillas groom themselves entirely outside of the dust baths that are required to keep them clean and healthy.

Nonetheless, it’s a nice added benefit if you ask me.

#12- Chinchilla Can Carry 1-6 Kits or Babies During Pregnancy

For being such a small rodent, I bet you wouldn’t expect a female chinchilla to carry more than 1 kit, would you?

Well, you’re kind of right. Most of the time, they carry 1-3 kits with 2 being the most common.

However, they can carry up to 6.

Although rare, it’s still a relatively interesting fact about a chinchilla if you ask me.

#13- Chinchillas Poop Non-Stop

I’m sure most of you may already know this, but I find it crazy that a chinchilla will poop more than 250 times in one day.

Yep, that’s a lot of poop to clean up.

Make sure that if you plan on adopting a chinchilla, you read my post about how to keep all that chinchilla poop in the cage to ensure you don’t have a mess around that cage.

#14- Chinchillas Produce Minimal Odor

On the flip side of pooping non-stop, the upside is that poop doesn’t stink.

In fact, for the most part, a chinchilla does not smell in general.

For being a rodent that spends decades inside of a cage, I find this to be a huge advantage of choosing to adopt a chinchilla.

Clearly, you need to keep up with cage cleaning etc. but for the most part, your life will be easy when it comes to keeping your chinchilla area and habitat odor-free.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it, friends. All you need to know about the physical and behavioral characteristics of a chinchilla.

I know this wasn’t my typical post.

Still, I figured that enough people may be curious about chinchilla characteristics, behavior characteristics, and even fun facts about chinchillas that it was worth putting together.

Hopefully, it provided some of you readers with something you didn’t know about the chinchilla and made you realize that they are one of the best pets you can choose to adopt.

Not to mention, easy to care for.

Now, It’s Your Turn to Share

Share Your Thoughts, Concerns, and Feedback on chinchilla characteristics.

Do you have any characteristics about a chinchilla’s physical traits, personality, or behaviors you think should be added to this list?

Be sure to share those extra facts by dropping a comment below.

As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading.

Thanks again, and we will see you next time.

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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