Chinchillas

Are chinchillas suitable for all ages?

Chinchilla Chinchillas are sociable creatures similar to guinea pigs but are nocturnal, sleeping in the day and active at night. They are much better suited to teenagers and adults than young children. The cage should not be situated in direct sunlight or in a draughty area.

How long do chinchillas live?

A long time in small animal terms! They can live into their late teens and early twenties.

Are they friendly?

They enjoy climbing up to different levels in their cage and are great fun to watch. They are not keen on being picked up but will sit on your lap for short periods of time. They love company and should always be kept in pairs which should be neutered. We only rehome chinchillas in pairs.

Can they be let out to play?

Yes they can, and need at least an hour a day of supervised exercise. However you will need to ensure the area is free from electrical cables, furniture and carpets as Chincillas love to chew and gnaw!

Caring for your chinchillas

What you need to know…

Housing your chinchillas

Chinchillas need space and for a pair need a cage at least 90cmsx90cmsx90cms.

Chinchillas need things to climb on, a box to sleep in and a dust bath. They also need gnawing blocks or cuttlefish bone to keep their teeth trim.

Chinchillas like to sit and play on different heights in their cages so wooden shelves hooked onto the sides of the cage are ideal. Thick branches of willow or oak make for good play seats.

A sturdy wooden box for their sleeping quarters is essential but bedding is not necessary.

To keep debris out of your chinchillas’ fur it is best to make the base of their cage out of wire mesh, with a tray lined with newspaper underneath to collect droppings and urine. The great advantage of this is it makes the cage very easy to clean!

Healthy tips for chinchillas

  • Chinchillas need a daily dust bath, using chinchilla sand which you can purchase at your pet shop. A shoe box sized container is fine for the ‘bath’. This keeps their coats clean and free from grease. You can either leave the dust bath in the cage permanently or pop it in for a few hours a day.
  • Chinchillas have very sensitive digestive systems so you need to be very careful with their diet.
  • Chinchillas love to gnaw, which stops their teeth from becoming too long and will gnaw anything given half the chance. So make such you always have wood in the cage.

Feeding your chinchillas

  • Chinchillas have delicate stomachs and their diet should consist mainly of chinchilla grass pellets, hay and dried grass forage with a little fresh food.
  • No more than one treat a day as their stomachs cannot break down sugars and chinchillas are prone to diarrhoea.
  • We would recommend as a once a day treat one of the following: half a dried apricot or a small piece of dried fruit ( about a centimetre square is enough!); a monkey nut in its shell; a few blades of grass; a small quantity of fresh fruit or vegetable no more than twice a week.

Need more help and advice?

Call the Small Animal Team at Raystede on 01825 880467 or email smallanimals1@raystede.org

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