Sample by: Shelly Luban
Chinchillas are cute, soft and fluffy, but is a chinchilla the right pet for you? There are some important factors to consider when deciding whether to adopt a chinchilla for your family pet.
While chinchillas are rodents, they have one huge difference from most rodents. They have a very long lifespan compared to other pet rodents. The average lifespan of a pet chinchilla is 10-15 years, but if the chinchilla was bred properly and taken good care of, he or she could live as long as 20+ years. A chinchilla is a long term commitment.
Chinchillas are much like toddlers. They lose interest in everything very quickly and they move rapidly from one thing to the next. They get into anything and everything and are avid chewers. It is important to allow your chinchillas outside of their cage for exercise a couple hours per day, but you must always keep your eye on them at all times. Pens are a good idea to keep them contained in smaller areas. They are not much of a cuddly pet and they don’t enjoy being held, but some of them will easily form bonds with their human owners and will groom them or “talk” with them.
Chinchillas require a cool climate. In the wild, chinchillas live in the Andes Mountains in Peru and Chile. Their bodies require cool temperatures and can succumb to heat stroke very quickly in temperatures as low as 80 degrees. Therefore, household air conditioning is very important and should be kept within the 70’s to keep your chinchilla sufficiently cooled. Chinchillas are nocturnal animals and do enjoy sleeping in the daytime. Cage placement should be in a household area that will receive less traffic during the day. Sleep pockets and covered houses in their cages can help maintain the quiet and security they need. Chinchillas lacking sleep will quickly decline in health which can result in fur biting or digestive upset. Chinchillas also require very large, tall cages so they are able to leap from ledge to ledge for exercise. A small cage, like the ones sold in pet stores, will result in a very unhappy and unhealthy chinchilla.
Chinchillas have very sensitive digestive systems and require their owners to have a vast knowledge of what is safe for them to consume. Strictly hay and good quality pellets are their main diets. Small amounts of treats in the form of oats, apple wood sticks, cheerios, and rose hips are also safe for them. Unlike other pet rodents, fresh fruits and vegetables should not be given to chinchillas.
It is very important to always buy from a reputable breeder that can provide back ground information for your chinchilla’s genetic history. They are prone to genetic disorders if there is any cross breeding in their family history. A good breeder will know this and will be able to provide several generations worth of your pet’s family tree. Do not think it is a good idea to breed your pet with someone else’s chinchilla. Without knowing exactly how each of their genes affects the other, the results could be disastrous and cruel to the offspring.
When you are searching for a pet for your family, always make sure you do your research and choose one that is suitable for your household. When it comes to chinchillas, extra research is highly suggested and careful thought should be put into the decision.
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