If you’re after a clean, soft and beautiful small pet, then chinchillas are a great choice. They can initially be quite shy, but with love and handling (especially from a young age) they can form a very close bond with their owners. They typically don’t like to be cuddled but they will keep you entertained with their playful personalities. They have a lively curiosity about everything, using their paws and teeth to play with and nibble toys. If well bred, they can have a life expectancy of up to 15 years.
They need a lot of care, so it’s important to do your research before getting a chinchilla. They must have access to spaces where they can exercise, and temperatures need to be monitored because they lack the ability to sweat. Keeping their environment below 20C is important. They also need plenty of stimulation to prevent them becoming bored so toys and cage accessories are a must. A bored chinchilla is a destructive, unhappy chinchilla.
Chinchillas are rock hoppers and they are best kept in lower cages rather than tall. If a tall cage is provided, they must have a drop of no more than 18-24 inches to prevent injury. Platforms, shelves, fleece hammocks etc can be placed in the cage to divide larger spaces and encourage exploration.
All metal cages are essential. Chinchillas chew everything! A cage with a plastic base is not suitable – the chinchilla will chew their way out and the plastic can cause damage to the mouth and gut (or even death). Chinchillas should not be allowed to chew plastic. Toys with plastic parts are not suitable for chinchillas.