Imagine hanging out on your sofa with your chinchilla.
It’s a wonderful image.
But chinchillas are not cats or dogs. You can’t just hang out with them wherever and whenever you want.
If that’s the kind of relationship you want with your pet, do not get a chinchilla.
They have a few specific needs and characteristics that make this kind of owner-pet relationship absolutely impossible.
Does that mean chinchillas have to be in a cage all the time?
Not exactly. Keep reading for the quick answer first, and then for more explanation. If you just got (or are planning on getting) a chinchilla, you absolutely need to know this information.
Do Chinchillas Have To Be In A Cage?
Yes, chinchillas must be in a cage. They do need about 30 to 60 minutes out of the cage per day for supervised interaction and bonding. This means they spend the remaining 23+ hours inside their cage.
While it’s important to understand that a cage is necessary, it’s also important to realize that chinchillas do need some time out of their cage as well.
It’s also imperative that you provide your chinchilla with an adequate cage in terms of sizing and structure. To save you some time, you can read my post about the best chinchilla cages to get started.
It will help you understand why chinchillas need a cage and what kind of cage is best for them. We’ll cover the “why” below as well.
Why Do Chinchillas Have To Be In Cages?
Sorry to break the bad news. Your chinchilla must be in a cage.
The next logical question is “why?”
A lot of pet owners who own other pets like rabbits allow their furry friends to be out of the cage for more than an hour per day.
But, it doesn’t work like that with chinchillas.
Part of this is due to the potential for overheating. The rest is due to a chinchilla’s abilities and natural behaviors.
That guide can help to understand some of the dangers that may present themselves when you allow a chinchilla to free roam. I even have a post specifically about this topic.
It discusses if a chinchilla can free-roam the house.
Part of the problem is simple. Chinchillas are naturally curious animals.
They love to explore and can find and fit themselves into tiny, dark places where it may be challenging to find them and get them out. Worse, you need to locate your chin quickly, if it manages to get away from you.
That’s because your chinchilla can overheat very quickly. If you’re not aware of this problem, take a bit of time to read my post about overheating dangers. It covers what the ideal temperature for a chinchilla is.
So you need to find your pet quickly, before it overheats. But finding it will likely be a huge challenge.
Finding A Chinchilla That Is Hiding Is Difficult
I bet every single chinchilla owner can back me up on this. If your chinchilla does happen to run away, it’s going to be a long evening trying to find him or her.
You see, chinchillas are naturally scared animals. In the wild, they are the preyed upon by many different animals. And humans, too!
They are hunted, not hunters.
When a chinchilla gets outside of what I like to call the safe area, you are not likely to find it quickly. It will wedge itself into a dark spot where it feels safe and protected. This is the same behavior that it would display in the wild when running from predators.
This is a major reason why chinchillas always have to be in a cage.
When they aren’t in their cage, you must ensure that the area in which you interact and bond with them is safe of potential dangers. And please don’t make your chinchilla wear a harness to avoid this situation. That can be even more dangerous.
Potential Hazards Are Everywhere
Another major reason chinchillas need to be in a cage is the real danger that your pet can face when outside of the cage. This is even more true when they are in an area that has not been chinchilla-proofed for safety.
One big issue is that chinchillas are chewers at heart. It’s almost like having a newborn puppy who wants to chew everything in sight.
This is one of the reasons I have several entire blog posts dedicated to the topic of chewing. The first discusses if chinchillas will chew wires.
That post explains what you need to do to protect all wires from chewing, along with some other precautions you need to take to keep your chinchilla safe.
But it’s not just things like wires. Chinchillas may also chew on items that can be dangerous if they ingest them.
If you haven’t read my post about what a chinchilla can eat, it’s worth checking out. Chinchillas have very sensitive stomachs and ingesting something they shouldn’t can be devastating.
It could cause blockages or other intestinal problems that could potentially kill your furry friend. This is not a risk you should ever take when you embark on the journey of adopt a new chinchilla. Make sure you have a safe room where it can be free. But only under your watchful eye.
Provide A Large And Safe Cage For A Chinchilla
We have covered quite a bit in this post thus far. The main takeaway is the your chinchilla needs to be in a cage.
Once you understand this, it comes down to ensuring you purchase the best chinchilla cage possible. This doesn’t mean you need to break the bank on the cage, though.
Simply ensure that you purchase a cage that’s large enough. There are plenty that do not cost much more than smaller ones.
If you’re not sure what the proper size for a chinchilla cage is, I recommend reading my blog post about the correct size for a chinchilla cage. It will give you the exact dimensions and recommended cages that meet the size requirements, along with all other needs of your pet.
It’s imperative that your chinchilla has plenty of room to jump, climb, and stay mentally stimulated. If it does not have the space to do these things, your chinchilla will be much less friendly. It can become destructive within the cage, simply out of boredom.
Spend the few extra bucks and make sure you provide your chinchilla with enough space to act in its natural way. Also provide a safe area outside the cage where it can play, run, and jump. That’s the key to a happy and healthy chinchilla.
It’s simple when you really think about it.
Spend a little more in the beginning and get it right the first time. Then it’s done and over with and out of your mind.
Another important consideration is the material. Many chinchilla cages have plastic components, but plastic can be harmful if chewed and ingested. And they will chew. So avoid plastic cages for chinchillas.
Trust me, your chinchilla will thank you for it. Not literally, but I think you get the point.
Chinchilla Need To Be In A Cage: Final Thoughts
Again, sorry to burst your bubble. Chinchillas are not the kind of animal to adopt if you are looking for a soft cuddly match-made-in-heaven to sleep in your bed with you.
However, if you are up for a low maintenance animal that requires only a small budget and will show love and affection towards you, I highly recommend adopting a chinchilla.
I was scared and skeptical at first as well. But it has turned into nothing short of a fantastic experience thus far.
They are cheap and easy to care for. They simply need some love, interaction, bonding, and a large enough cage to enjoy life fully when inside it, and everything will be good to go.
Turning the floor over to you now.
As always, I encourage feedback from you, the readers.
Do you recommend any other precautions or tips about keeping a chinchilla inside a cage, apart from playtime?
Be sure to share your stories by dropping a comment below.
As always, I appreciate you and thanks for stopping by. See you next time. Best of luck with your upcoming chinchilla adoption!