Adopting a new pet is always a great joy but it also comes with great responsibility, no matter the size of the animal. Although most rodents are low-maintenance and quite easy to look for, chinchillas are an exception, as they are very pretentious so you need to think of more than just a suitable chinchilla cage to ensure the pet’s health, comfort, and safety.
Nevertheless, if you plan on welcoming your new member of the family and want to make its stay as pleasant as possible, here are some things you should consider.
Are chinchillas the right pets for your family?
As we’ve previously mentioned, looking after a chinchilla has nothing in common with looking after other small rodents like mice or hamsters. They require a lot of love, attention, and affection, as well as regular grooming services.
They are quite sensitive and come with poor immune systems, which means you may have to pay the vet a visit once in a while. And, if you want to make sure their fur remains smooth and silky, investing in the best toiletry products is a must!
Keep in mind that these furry pets get attached to their owners slowly, so you’ll need to be patient. At first, chinchillas are very shy and get easily scared, and this is why it will take some time until they will feel in their own element. However, once they opened up to their owners, they are capable of great love and will make the perfect companions for you and the rest of your family members.
As a general rule, we don’t recommend adopting a chinchilla pet if you have small children, as kids don’t usually have the necessary patience to let these animals warm up at their own pace.
How much space do they need?
Trying to fit a chinchilla in a regular hamster or rabbit cage is the worst decision, as these pets require plenty of room to run around. Thus, the minimum cage should measure four-by-four-by-three feet if you want them to avoid stress and discomfort.
They are native to mountainous regions, so you’ll need to recreate their natural habitat as best as you can to keep them interested, and help them feel at home in their new environment. In other words, buying a regular cage won’t be enough.
Like most all other rodents, chinchillas have an active nightlife, but this doesn’t mean you’ll have to take them out to noisy clubs or buy them a drink. However, what you should do is find the right cage for them, with multiple levels for climbing and jumping, as well as tunnels, stairs, and hideouts.
Chinchillas love a good challenge, and what better way to keep them occupied for the entire day if not by providing some mind-stimulating toys? Chewing toys and hay balls represent the perfect choices for keeping their teeth strong and healthy, while tunnels and hideouts will encourage their natural instincts of burrowing, nesting, and hiding.
Are visitors allowed?
No matter how large the cage is, it is always best to keep these animals separated from their kind or the rest of your pets. Chinchillas do require company but keeping same-sex individuals in the same cage can result in fighting.
The same strategy should be applied if you don’t want to look after baby chinchillas for the rest of your life. These creatures enjoy mating so, if you put a couple in the same cage, prepare for baby shower gifts up to three times a year.
As for other pets, it would be best to keep your precious rodents in a separate room, away from cats and dogs, unless they all grew up together.
What about spending time outdoors?
Although chinchillas may look like the perfect animals to be kept in an apartment, the truth is they require fresh air once in a while. As we’ve mentioned before, they are quite active animals, meaning they enjoy running around, hiding, and exploring the neighborhoods.
And, as comfortable as their cage may be, you should allow them to run around freely in your garden and enjoy the cool breeze.
However, they do require a safe and comfortable space to play and exercise, so keep your backyard suitable for your rodent’s visit. Make sure there aren’t too many obstacles or objects that could harm your pet, like sharp tools, electric cords, toxic surfaces or sawdust. In other words, you should keep an eye on your pet while it enjoys playing in nature.
When spending quality time outdoors is not possible, you can still have fun with your chinchilla around the house. Since they are naturally curious, they’ll enjoy sniffing around the house or inspecting every corner of the room. Just make sure you have it animal-proof, and this means putting away all dangerous objects and getting rid of all things hazardous.
What else do you have to know?
Properly placing your animal’s cage is as important as the item itself. Chinchillas are nocturnal creatures, meaning they will be mainly active during the night. Cages should be placed in cool, dark, and dry rooms, away from direct sunlight or heating sources. These pets are quite sensitive, so leaving them in extreme heat can cause serious health problems, and even death.
And, although they enjoy the company, placing the cage in your child’s room is not a good idea, especially because these animals are quite noisy at night.
Last but not least, you should also think about the materials used for manufacturing the cage. Chinchillas are rodents, so this means it’s in their nature to chew things, including wood and plastic. Thus, it would be best to avoid cages made of these materials as you’ll only teach your pet how to escape and wander around the house alone.
Cages should be metallic, with large, sturdy bars to prevent injuries but also ensure proper ventilation and easy access for the pet’s owner.