Chinchillas Vs. Ferrets as Family Pets[Here’s Your Winner]

Let’s say you are on the fence about adopting a new pet and not 100% sure if your next furry pet should be a chinchilla or a ferret.

That’s understandable. The world is full of viable options for pets that you could potentially bring into your family for many years to come.

I was the exact same way nearly 3 years ago. I had a yellow lab that’s about 100lbs that was beginning to age and a 1-year old son at the time.

He was obsessed with our dog and loved animals in general, so I began the journey of deciding on a new pet.

All I knew at the time is that I was going to go with a small pet such as a rodent for a new pet, but I didn’t know which one I wanted right out of the gates.

Well, a chinchilla did end up making the final cut, but I did have some head to head battles and research to do between some popular pets before making my decision.

That’s why I decided to craft this post because I’d assume, I can’t be the only human out there going through the same ideation phase or struggles.

In this post, however, I want to only focus on letting two pets go head to head to let you be the judge and jury on which pet is better for you.

The chinchilla vs. the ferret.

My goal in this post is not to sway you towards one side or the other, but I will fully disclaim that I do own a chinchilla, and I’m very familiar with the pros and cons of owning a ferret.

This post should be nothing more than an easy guide and scoresheet as to who the clear winner should be, and which pet you should ultimately be adopting.

For a brief and direct answer to the question, I present you with this summary:

So which pet is better, the chinchilla or the ferret? The chinchilla makes a potentially better bet with the correct upbringing due to being more sociable, and overall cleaner rodent and due to having a longer lifespan than a ferret.

However, you do have more to consider than just the factors I’ve laid out for you above.

That’s what the rest of this post will help detail and breakdown for you.

In fact, I’ve created easy to navigate links directly below that you can use to skip to any specific section that you desire or need to learn more about.


Here is what I intend on breaking down in our quick battle of the chinchilla vs. the ferret today:

As stated previously, if you need to use any of those links to jump around in this post, feel free to do so.

Otherwise, buckle up and get ready to find out which one of these cute animals should be your next pet.

Here is what you need to know.

An Overview of Chinchillas and Ferrets

Let’s start this battle relatively evenly. I have nothing against ferrets and understand they also can make great family pets.

I tend to play a fair game when it comes to these comparisons. You can even check out my blog post about if a chinchilla is better than a rabbit here so you can see how I keep score during these matchups.

However, I will say that owning a chinchilla is different than owning a ferret for several reasons.

Most of those reasons we are getting ready to dive into here shortly, but nonetheless, if you are currently in the market for a new family pet or perhaps searching for your kids, both pets can present unique pros and cons.


Key Differences between Chinchillas and Ferrets

One of the most significant differences between a chinchilla and a ferret is the ferrets’ social skills. As ferrets mature, they tend not to be as socially active as a chinchilla.

They are known as a predator animal and are perfectly content not having tons of interactions with other animals or even humans.

On the flip side, to own an interactive, friendly, and cuddly chinchilla, you don’t have to spend much more money in the early phases compared to the cost of a ferret.

Luckily, choosing to adopt a chinchilla becomes very cheap after your initial adoption.

Especially if you play your cards right with the best bedding options and purchase a suitable cage right out of the gates.

What I mean by this is choosing a bedding option such as fleece liners that can be re-used as opposed to spending money on aspen shavings on a recurring base.

As far as cages for both pets, choosing the best cage possible in the early stages should have you set for the long run.

Diet and Nutrition

You do have some key differences with diet needs between ferrets and chinchillas.

First, chinchillas are about as easy as it gets when it comes to providing the correct dietary needs.

They need timothy hay and chinchilla formulated pellets. Outside of this, you would be crossing into the land of offering treats which is, permissible if it is done safely.

Ferrets, on the other hand, are considered carnivores, so meat needs to be introduced into their diet. On the plus side for a ferret, they don’t have quite as sensitive digestive tracts as a chinchilla, which can help if you ever accidentally get too generous with treats.

Unfortunately, I can’t provide you the best purchases for ferrets because, well, I don’t own one, and that would be relatively sleazy of me.

On the other hand, if you are leaning towards going with a chinchilla, I recommend viewing a few of my key posts directly below.

If you need to learn about the best hay to offer a chinchilla, view my post here.

To understand more about chinchilla pellets, you can read my post here.

And lastly, for those who love offering treats, view my post here on which fruits are safe to feed chinchillas.

On a head to head battle between if a chinchilla is better than a ferret, I don’t think the diet makes for a clear cut winner or a point to be given so for now, we will keep this battle tied at zero points for both sides.

Hygiene Differences Between Ferrets and Chinchillas

Alright, my friends, here’s where the chinchilla is going to get the point for being the better pet.

It’s nothing against ferrets, but in general, chinchillas are very clean animals.

They are great for individuals with allergies due to producing nearly no dander.

This is due to having such dense fur and requiring nothing more than a dust bath to maintain their beautiful fur coats.

Chinchillas can also be litter trained to urinate in a litter pan and have soft rodent-like poop that produces no odor.

With a few helpful pointers, chinchillas can be one of the cleanest pets you can choose to adopt in general.

Ferrets, on the other hand, require some brushing from time to time due to light shedding.

Additionally, ferrets are known to produce a bit more of an odor near or in their habitat.

Chinchillas are the opposite and for the most part, do not smell at all.

Again, I’m not bashing the ferret by any means, I’m just a firm advocate that chinchillas win this battle by a long shot.

Cost Breakdown of Ferrets and Chinchillas

This is always tough to pinpoint because it really depends on the kind of pet owner you decide to be.

So many accessories are available for both ferrets and chinchillas that you can clearly spend a few bucks from time to time.

However, I can tell you that the cost is close at initial adoption.

Chinchillas can run anywhere from $75-$250.00 for one chinchilla depending on the color or mutation you choose to adopt.

Ferrets, on the other hand, are typical $65.00-$225.00 for the ferret, but ferrets usually need vaccinations and different veterinary needs early into the adoption.

Chinchillas also require a tall cage with plenty of vertical space.

The cage I always recommend runs you about $250.00 for a chinchilla, but this is a one-time cost that you shouldn’t have to encounter ever again with some proper cleaning and maintenance.

It’s the Critter Nation 2 Dual Level Cage (Link to Amazon) in case you want to check it out.

For a ferret, I am aware that the ferret nation (Link to Amazon) is a popular cage which is slightly cheaper than the Critter Nation cage.

Nonetheless, the cost will be relatively equal in this regard.

I would say overall, if you are debating between the two pets, the cost is likely not going to be a huge determining factor as to which of these animals would be better for you or not.

It’s likely to be too close to notice a huge difference.

Behavior and Temperament

Next comes the enjoyable conversation about which one of these furry pets has the winning personalities.

Behavior is always an important consideration to keep in mind.

Chinchillas are friendly and social creatures that do build bonds with their owners.

Not to mention, chinchillas can be very entertaining with their unique springing and jumping abilities.

However, a ferret is by no means a boring pet that’s not capable of showing love.

They certainly can be friendly, loving pets as well.

They just don’t like humans and other animals nearly as much as chinchillas.

Plain and simple.

Chinchillas are not known to bite in most circumstances, which is clearly a plus, but ferrets are also not known to bite unless they are in pain, or they are trying to signal some other message to you.

Overall, for the more entertaining and interactive pet, I’d lean towards a chinchilla.

Proofing Areas for Safety

No matter which of these two pets, you ultimately decide to purchase, proofing an area for time out of the cage would be necessary.

Chinchillas absolutely love some time out of the cage, but they are ninjas at finding small spaces to squeeze between, and you must be leery of dangerous items that can be chewed, such as chords or wires.

The same can be said for a ferret.

Unfortunately, choosing one of these pets as opposed to others is not going to save you anytime, or any effort in this category and completing a bit of pet-proofing will be necessary.

Social Interactions

Both pets are capable of social interaction with family members and their owners.

They may show it any different ways, but with proper care and some love from you, they both turn into great pets that learn to recognize their owners.

How Are Chinchillas Better Than Ferrets and Vice Versa?

When I initially started this post, I had it in my mind that the chinchilla was the clear winner, and personally, the chinchilla is still the pet I’d choose to adopt.

However, I was surprised to see how great a ferret can be as a pet as well.

I just hate that a ferret is perfectly content whether the owner or family is around or not.

I guess that’s the difference between a weasel and a rodent?

Not really sure to be honest.

One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that a chinchilla does have double the life span, which is a definite win in my book.

Chinchillas can live 15-20 years with proper care, so they make for a great long-term pet that can bring joy to a family for many years.

On the flip side, maybe that’s not what you’re looking for.

If that’s the case, a ferret may make more sense for you.

I also love the odor bonus points for a chinchilla. Chinchillas are simply clean animals that are about as easy as it gets to care for.

I haven’t owned a ferret, but I have noticed that the consensus is that ferrets are also clean animals that groom themselves.

However, it does also seem that ferrets typically have more of an odor than a chinchilla, which is a downside for me.

I also don’t like that ferrets are a predator animal that doesn’t need social interaction to remain happy or healthy.

Too me, this just feels likes I could own the animal and spend minimal time with it, and they would still be perfectly fine.

I like putting in the little extra effort, but I do understand that this could also be a strong reason for someone to choose a ferret instead.

I guess you need to ask yourself what you truly prefer to make this decision.

Do Chinchillas Smell Like Ferrets

No, chinchillas do not smell like ferrets. Ferrets are known to leave a musky smell in the room where their habitat is kept. Chinchillas smell like a rodent and produce a very minimal odor. Overall, chinchillas and ferret’s odor and smells are not in any way similar.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, both options can be a pet you can choose to adopt and can bring joy to any family.

However, due to the natural tendencies and a ferret being more of a predator animal, they don’t need necessarily prefer interaction from you as the owner.

In my opinion, if you are looking for a pet, this makes the chinchilla the clear winner.

I’d rather have a pet that wants the social interaction and needs it than a pet that’s perfectly fine, never seeing me.

That’s just my two cents, however.

Share Your Thoughts and Concerns

Now it’s time for you to chime in on the topic. Especially anyone who currently owns a ferret.

What argument can you make that ferrets make the superior pet?

What other pros and cons of either pet can you layout for the audience here today?

Be sure to share your stories, thoughts, and concerns by dropping a comment below.

As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by, 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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