Chinchilla Care Sheet
Choosing the correct type of home for your pet is a very important decision you have to make. It is important that he has a home where he feels happy and is safe and comfortable. House your chinchilla in a wire cage inside your home. Chinchillas love to jump and climb so be sure to choose that cage that offers shelves. Ferret cages are an ideal choice. Chinchillas are native to a cool climate and have very dense fur to protect them from the cold. This fur will cause them to overheat quickly. Aquariums do not offer enough ventilation and can cause overheating even if kept in a cool room. Chinchillas need to be kept at temperatures below 75 degrees. They are nocturnal meaning they are most active at night. If you are a light sleeper you may choose not to place the cage in your bedroom.
Your chinchilla cage will need a water bottle and a food dish attached to the side of the cage. If you use a food bowl on the floor your chinchilla will use it as a potty. Glass water bottles are the best choice since chinchillas chew. If you can't find a glass bottle look for a metal guard that fits between the cage and the bottle. You can use pine shavings or pellets made out of recycled paper to line the bottom of the chinchilla cage. Never use cedar wood of any kind in a chinchilla cage. It will cause respiratory problems. Chinchillas have teeth that are constantly growing so you must provide something in the cage for chewing. We recommend wood toys. Parrot toys made from hanging wood are great and lots of fun for your chinchilla. You can also use Scoria Stores or lava stones made for small animals. Your chinchilla will enjoy chewing on empty toilet paper tubes. This is a fun toy but won't be adequate for keeping his teeth healthy.
Your new chinchilla will need a dust bath a few times a week. You can give it one daily if you like. Take a container that is large enough for your chinchilla to roll around in and fill it with about an inch of Chinchilla Dust. (This is a commercial product usually made of fullers earth. Do Not use regular sand). Place it in the cage for 15-20 minutes and let your chinchilla roll around in it. This removes his excess oils and keeps his fur looking thick and beautiful. Chinchillas do most of their sleeping during the day and prefer to have a house of some sort to sleep in. This can be a box made out of pine or cardboard. You can also use a piece of clay pipe, which will help keep him cool in the warmer weather. PVC is also acceptable. Never use plastic in a chinchilla cage. Your chinchilla will most likely eat it and this can cause serious health problems.
Chinchillas have a very delicate digestive system and can't handle a sudden change in food. Diet changes should be added gradually over a week's time. Your Chinchilla will be happy and healthy if he is fed correctly. He should have access to pellets at all times. Make sure that the pellets are fresh and that you keep them in an airtight container. As part of his daily diet he also requires hay (timothy or alfalfa). Chinchillas should not be given watery foods such as lettuce. This can cause serious diarrhea, which can be fatal. Chinchilla love treats, but remember that they are 'treats' and should not be given in excess. You can purchase various natural healthy treats for your Chinchilla. Some are in the form of dried grasses, often with Alfalfa, dried berries, fruit etc... Be careful if buying animal mixes that contain sunflower seeds. Your pet will readily eat and enjoy them, but caution must be exercised that he does not over indulge on treats that have a high fat content. Nuts should never be fed becasue they can cause liver damage. Also, you can give raisins, which are the number one treat for Chinchillas. One raisin a day is a good amount. AQuaker Oats are also enjoyed. Cereals that have no sugar content and are natural, such as Cheerios are also good treats.
A Chinchilla is very social and needs to interact with you every day but will be scared when you first bring him home. The first day leave him alone to get used to his new home. On the second day talk to him softly and place your arm inside the cage. Don't try to hold your new pet or take him out until he has begun to trust you. Use treats to get him to come to your hand. It may take a few days but with patience your chinchilla will soon be meeting you at the cage door. Once he has learned to trust you its OK to take him out to play. Remember your chinchilla will chew on anything so keep him away from electrical wires, plastics, and your favorite furniture. If you play with your chinchilla in the bathroom be sure to close the toilet. He can easily jump that high and many chinchillas have gotten a surprise swim that way!