Pet Profile: All About Chinchillas
Everything you need to know about the life and habits of a chinchilla.
In the last few years, Chinchillas have become a very popular option as a pet, and for good reason: they don’t take up a lot of room, they are relatively inexpensive, and they are delightful, happy creatures. All in all, these small, furry animals are a great option if you are looking to bring a new creature into your home.
However, just like when you are looking to adopt or purchase any animal, it is important to know all about the background and lifestyle of a chinchilla before you bring one home. We have put together a simple list of basic chinchilla information and facts that are helpful in determining whether or not these furry creatures are right for you and your family.
Size: When a chinchilla is an adult, they are roughly the same size as a small to medium-sized domestic rabbit. They average around 9-12 inches long (not including the tail), and can weigh anywhere between 0.8 to 4 pounds. Between the male and female chinchillas, the females are typical larger.
Life Expectancy: Like most pets, chinchillas are a long-term commitment. Many pet chinchillas live until they are 10-15-years-old; some may even live up to 20 years. Chinchillas are typically very healthy, self-caring pets and don’t require regular veterinary visits, especially if they are kept in a clean, safe environment. However, it is still a good idea to bring your chinchilla to the vet bi-yearly for a check-up.
Appearance: A standard chinchilla is naturally gray with a blue hue and has a pure white belly. However, many mutation colors are now being bred. For example, some popular chinchilla colors include beige, black and a hint of purple. A standard grey chinchilla is typically the least expensive, with purple being the most costly color.
Temperament and Behavior: The most important thing to know about chinchillas is that they are nocturnal. This means that they will typically spend the mornings and afternoons sleeping, and will be awake during the evenings. Because of this, the late afternoon or evening is the best time to play with your chinchilla. However, if something interesting is going on during the day time, they many become more active.
Chinchillas are very social animals and need lots of affection and attention. It is especially important to spend quality time with your chinchilla when you first get it, as they can be shy if they do not know you. However, once you establish a relationship, your chinchilla may let you hold and cuddle it.
Housing: Like many other small animals, chinchillas should be kept in a medium-sized wire cage with plenty of room for exercise. They are very curious creatures and should have lots of places to climb in and on top of if possible. Also, be sure you do not house a chinchilla in a plastic cage as they will try and chew through it.
Grooming: Chinchillas are notorious for being active chewers. However, this is a habit that should not be stopped. The reason that these animals like to chew on things is because it helps to keep their teeth filed down. If they do not chew enough, their long teeth may prevent them from being able to eat comfortably.
Chinchillas are relatively odor free, however they do have very oily coats. In order to prevent this, they should be given dust baths regularly. These baths, made up of a special type of sand, are a great treat for most chinchillas and it is a process that they can do themselves.
Feeding: Chinchillas have a very basic diet, similar to that of a rabbit. They enjoy pellet food, hay and a small portion of vitamin enriched seed mix. It is also important that you give your chinchilla distilled water, as they may have problems with bacteria often found in tap water.
Like any pet, you should not handle the adoption of a chinchilla lightly. Be sure to think over the long-term care and commitment that comes with being a pet owner, and be sure to discuss with children the proper care of a pet before you bring one into your home. Chinchillas can make a great pet, however, it is important that you provide a great home for them in return.
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