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Chinchilla Care FAQS
March 15, 2024

Mark your calendars for March 23rd – it’s National Chinchilla Day! These adorable little bundles of fur are becoming more and more popular. Chinnies can make wonderful pets, but, like any animal, they need to be cared for properly in order to thrive. Here are some basic chinchilla care tips from a friendly local Burleson, TX veterinarian.

What Should I Know Before Adopting A Chinchilla?

Chinchillas are not very high-maintenance pets, in that you won’t have to do too much on a daily basis. The important thing is to be aware of what you should and shouldn’t do.

We can’t overstate the importance of doing your research. Every one of our furry friends has their own special qualities. 

Before adopting a chinchilla, it’s important to know that they have significantly longer life spans compared to other small creatures. They can live ten or fifteen years, which is comparable to that of many dogs! 

They are also quite sensitive to high temperatures. If you prefer a warm environment, chinchillas may not be the best choice. 

They tend to be active during the night and can be quite noisy after dark. If you want something for a child, this may not be the best pet to put in your little one’s bedroom.

What Sort Of Foods Do Chinchillas Eat?

Chinchillas have unique dietary needs. Like many other tiny animals, they have open-rooted teeth. This is beneficial in their natural environment, as they have the ability to chew through various challenging plants and roots. For pets, it means you’ll need to offer plenty of high-fiber foods. Remember to always have an abundant amount of grass hay available. You can also add a small amount of commercial pellet food and dark, leafy vegetables to their diet. 

Do Chinchillas Like Treats?

Chinchillas don’t need treats. Actually, providing an excessive amount of snacks can do more harm than good. Occasionally, you can also consider offering plain Cheerios, hibiscus leaves, or blackberry leaves. Fresh herbs like oregano, peppermint, and lavender can be a delightful addition to your pet’s diet. Your furry companion will also love munching on safe branches such as apple, pear, and blackberry. Don’t give them anything that has been treated with chemicals.

It’s important to be aware of what you shouldn’t provide. Here is the list:

  • Dried fruit
  • Grain
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Branches from unsafe/unknown trees
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Corn
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine

Ask your Burleson, TX veterinarian for specific advice on this. Always exercise caution before providing anything to ensure its safety.

Where Did Chinchillas Originate From?

The chinchilla is from South America and was once abundant. However, its fur is highly desirable, leading to a decline in its population due to hunting and trapping. Wild chinchillas have become increasingly scarce.

Do Chinchillas Need Much Grooming?

You won’t need to worry about giving your pet a bath, at least not in the typical way. In fact, you should never use water and soap to wash your chinchilla. Their fur is not well-suited to be wet and will take a long time to dry. This can cause skin and fur issues. Furthermore, you’ll have a damp and discontented ball of fur on your hands!

Chinchillas keep themselves clean by taking dust baths. Make sure to have a suitable container and clean, store-bought dust on hand. (Pro tip: Storing dust in the fridge, especially during the summer months, can be a great way to keep your furry friend cool and comfortable.) Most chins should be given a dust bath about three times per week. 

How Can I Tell If My Pet Chinchilla Is Happy?

Chinchillas have a variety of adorable ways to show their affection. When your furry friend catches sight of you, they might wag their tail or prance around with pure delight. Actually, they sometimes jump for joy. This behavior is commonly referred to as popcorning, and it is really cute.

Your chin might also give you gentle nibbles to show love and affection.

What Are Some Common Medical Conditions Chinchillas Get?

Chinchillas, just like any other animal, can be susceptible to a range of health issues and conditions. Understanding common illnesses and their symptoms is crucial. Being knowledgeable about the warning signs makes it easier to identify them.

Dental issues are one concern. Chinchillas, just like any other animals with continuously growing teeth, are susceptible to dental issues. If your little buddy can’t wear their teeth down by chewing, they could potentially experience some very painful complications. 

Chinchillas are also particularly prone to ringworm, which is actually a type of fungus rather than a worm. This can be treated, but you’ll need to address it immediately. 

Chinchillas are naturally adapted to the dry, arid Andes, so be mindful of their vulnerability to overheating. They may struggle in hot or humid environments and can easily overheat at temperatures that some may find comfortable. make sure that your pet’s room stays at a temperature of 80°F or lower. Also, keep their cage away from direct sunlight. Consider installing air conditioning to keep your space cool and comfortable during the summer months.

Another thing to watch out for would be fur problems. If your chin is feeling lonely, stressed, frightened, or scared, it may engage in self-chewing behavior, which causes fur loss. Other health conditions can also contribute to this. Chins may also experience excessive shedding if they feel scared or are not treated properly. This is a natural defense mechanism called fur slip. Take good care of your chin and make sure they are comfortable, happy, and healthy.

Finally, digestive troubles are not uncommon with these guys. This category covers a variety of different issues. Various factors, such as parasites and a sub-par diet, can play a role in this. 

Stay vigilant for any signs that something may be amiss. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  • Fur loss
  • Withdrawal
  • Chewing themselves
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation (Lack of fecal pellets)
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Lethargy
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Pawing At The Mouth
  • Lack of interest in bathing
  • Uncharacteristic silence
  • Dirty bottom
  • Restless/unusual behavior, such as pacing
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Lumps, bumps, or lesions
  • Excessive thirst
  • Sensitive/sore paws
  • Bloat

If you notice any of these symptoms, reach out to your Burleson, TX animal clinic right away.

What Type Of Cage Is Best For Chinchillas?

Since chinchillas love to jump and climb, you’ll need to provide them with a cage that offers more vertical space than horizontal. It should be at least 2 feet long and 2 feet wide. Choosing a multi-tiered cage is often a great option. Opt for a style that features solid flooring: mesh floors can be dangerous for these guys. The walls should be mesh, with openings less than 1 inch apart. Steer clear of plastic, as your pet may chew it. We recommend using paper-based items for your furry pal’s bedding. Avoid using wood shavings as they may lead to irritation. 

Finally, be sure to have a variety of fun toys and cozy hiding spots, like small boxes and tents. Climbing branches and chew toys are also musts. Ask your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

Do you have any questions about chinchilla care? Feel free to reach out to us, your Burleson, TX neighborhood pet hospital, whenever you need assistance!