Chinchillas make ideal pets for working people, as they are nocturnal and available for play and attention when the owner returns in the early evening. They are not suitable as a pet for very young children as they are very shy.

Their average life span is approximately 14-20 years, so require long-term commitment.

Chinchilla

 

Handling your Pet

Your new chinchilla might be very nervous when you first get him home. This is due to the change of environment. The best way to deal with this is to place him into his new cage as soon as possible and allow him to settle in quietly for a while before attempting to handle him. Try not to let him get stressed, as this could prove fatal. When your chinchilla is used to his new home, you should begin to introduce your hand into the cage, just for short periods of time each day so he can begin to get to know you. NEVER ‘grab’ or ‘clutch’ a chinchilla as they can get very stressed and are easily scared, always let him come to you. Hold your chinchilla firmly, but not too tightly around his neck and support his back end. Holding him against your chest will make him feel secure, and he will soon learn to trust you and will then allow you to handle him. Never pick him up by his tail.

Housing your Pet

Chinchillas need to have large, secure housing with plenty of room to move about in. Keep the cage out of draughts and direct sunlight and ensure that the room temperature remains constant. Position the cage against a wall, on a table or similar. Do not place the cage directly on to the floor as this can cause stress. Do not allow your chinchilla to become too warm – this could prove fatal. A wire cage is necessary, as they will chew their way out of a wooden hutch, however solid platforms are needed to help to protect the feet. Buy the biggest cage that you can afford as your chinchilla will be living in it for many years. A large nesting box should be added to provide a secure sleeping area. A dust bath should also be provided daily to allow the chinchilla to clean itself. They love to bathe and this will help to keep their coats healthy. The bath should be made from metal – to prevent it from being chewed. It should be half filled with chinchilla dust, which should be sieved every day to remove faeces. This dust should be changed regularly. Never bath your chinchilla in water – their coats absorb water and are difficult to dry out. The base of the cage should be covered with a layer of wood shavings to absorb all waste. Chinchilla cages usually have a mesh base that will sit over the shavings to help to protect the coat.

The cage should be cleaned daily, and should be disinfected at least once a week with a suitable animal disinfectant.

Feeding your Pet

The digestive system of a chinchilla is very delicate. A chinchilla mix or chinchilla pellets, should be given fresh each day. Although chinchillas love to eat sunflower seeds and peanuts these should be given in moderation, as they are very high in fat. Plenty of good quality hay should be given daily to provide fibre. Poor quality hay causes diarrhoea. Fresh water should always be available. Treats are also available, but should be given sparingly. Do NOT give your chinchilla chocolate.

Health

Chinchillas are lively animals that love to play and run around. Try adding natural branches to their cage – not only can they climb on these, they are also great to gnaw on. Adding toys and pipes will help to keep your chinchilla entertained.

Companionship

Chinchillas enjoy companionship, however care must be taken when keeping more than one in a cage. Same sex chinchillas will generally not live together and will usually fight – sometimes to the death. Two cages can be put next to each other though. A male and a female chinchilla will live together, obviously this could result in babies though, however chinchillas are not prolific breeders and litters are small. Both chinchillas need to be young (not related) and should initially live in separate cages side by side and be introduced gradually to each other before attempting to keep them together in the same cage.

Health: All our animals at Just for Pets are given a health check before being put on sale. Providing that your animal is properly fed and his cage and accessories are kept clean, your pet should remain healthy for many years to come. If you are concerned about the health of your chinchilla, always speak to your vet.

Common Illness

Diarrhoea
This is quite common. It is usually caused by over eating or poor quality food. Diarrhoea can also be caused by stress or a change in the diet. Seek veterinary advice.

Constipation
Symptoms of constipation include a lack of droppings and bloated ness. Constipation can be caused by a lack of water, change in diet or stress. Provide plenty of good quality hay and fresh water. Seek veterinary advice if you are concerned.

Mouth problems
Chinchillas teeth grow continuously, therefore it is essential that they always have material to chew and gnaw on. If your chinchilla’s teeth become too long he will not be able to eat properly and will lose weight and will be more susceptible to illness. Symptoms of overgrown teeth are: dribbling from the side of the mouth, wet or runny eyes, pawing the mouth or weight loss. Seek veterinary advice.

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