Chinchillas make lovable and cute pets for adults and children alike. Intelligent and fun to play with, a chinchilla is a wonderful addition to your family. However it is very important to take care of your pet properly and have a good understanding of their needs and requirements. This article looks at everything you need to know to look after your exotic pet so that the four-legged companion can live a long and happy life.
Before buying a small rodent as a pet, there are some important facts that you need to know:
- Chinchillas can live up to 15 years
- They are nocturnal and so can be inactive during the day
- They prefer to live in pairs
- They should always be kept indoors
How To House Your Chinchilla
It is important to choose a cage that has enough space as chinchillas can be very active and can become bored or display destructive behaviors if they are kept in too small enclosure. Their cage should be kept indoors and away from windows where they may overheat as they are prone to heatstroke. They should also be kept away from draughts. Provide an enclosed bed for your chinchilla to sleep in, preferably made of wood. Although there is a rich variety of wire-meshed enclosures, some pet parents opt for wood chinchilla cage – http://www.chinchillafactssite.com/chinchilla-cages/wood-chinchilla-cage/. It could be customized to the needs of your beloved pet.
Chinchillas need plenty of exercise to stop them from experiencing boredom and destructive behaviors. A good time to take your pet out of their cage for playtime is in the early evening. Remember that all play outside the cage should be supervised as chinchillas are likely to chew items which may be hazardous.
Holding Your Chinchilla
The best and safest way to hold your pet is to support their body with your hand and hold the base of their tail to restrain them. It is very important to never pick up your chinchilla by their tail as this can injure them.
Toys And Enrichment
It is important to provide your pet with plenty of toys to keep them stimulated. It is also vital to give them playing accessories that will help them to exhibit their natural behaviors in a safe way. Chewing and digging are two common behavior traits which can be very destructive and therefore supplying your pet with toys that encourage them to dig and chew safely is important. Wooden blocks are a good choice as they are fun to move around the cage and to gnaw at. Wooden stacks can be stimulating and interesting for your pet to play with as they can be moved into different shapes including bridges and ramps to create variety in your chinchilla’s living environment.
Tubes are another good choice of toy as long as they are wide enough for your pet to run through without becoming stuck. Simple cardboard wallpaper tubes and cardboard boxes are free and make a fun short-term toy, although they will quickly be chewed. More robust plastic tubing can be purchased from pet stores.
Feeding Your Pet
Always use an appropriate specially designed chinchilla food for your pet’s optimal health. This can be purchased in pet stores, however the pellet type is best to ensure your pet gets a balanced diet. Fresh hay should also be supplied on a daily basis along with fresh water. Raisins and carrot slices are suitable treats for your chinchilla, however take care not to give them too many as they may cause an upset stomach.
A chinchilla’s teeth grow throughout their life and so good dental care is important. In their natural environment, chinchillas will chew and gnaw at wood and stones in order to file down their teeth. If your pet does not have enough opportunities to chew in captivity, they will experience dental pain and possible infections that may prevent them from eating. Therefore, it is vital that you supply your pet with lots of hard surfaces that are suitable for gnawing.
Some chinchillas exhibit destructive or self-harming behaviors as a result of boredom. This can be prevented by ensuring your pet has plenty of exercise, play and enrichment opportunities. If your pet is chewing at their own fur, you may need to consider purchasing a second chinchilla to keep your animal company. It may also be stress related due to a relocation or lack of entertainment. If your pet is chewing at their cage, you may need to supply more toys and chewable items for them to access inside their cage.
Although chinchillas do not bathe in water, they still need to keep clean. In the wild, they would use a sand or dirt bath and this can be catered for in captivity. Chinchilla sand is available in pet stores and is finer than builders’ sand which should not be used. They can use a dust bath every evening but you should not leave it inside their cage as they may use it too frequently which can result in dry skin.
It is important to your pet’s health to keep their living environment clean. This means that cages should be cleaned weekly while any leftover food, hay and water should be removed and replaced regularly. Also, any excrement should be removed every day.
Keeping your chinchilla healthy is the key to enabling them to live a long and good life. Although they are not especially prone to health problems, their teeth must be cared for carefully. Also, your chinchilla should not be subjected to extreme heat or draughts as this can cause health problems. If your pet is lacking in calcium, they may have a seizure, so providing a pumice stone inside their cage may fix this problem. If your pet is kept in damp or unhygienic conditions, they may develop a fungal infection which requires a fungal powder to be prescribed by a vet. If you overfeed your pet with treats, they may develop constipation. See more information on chinchilla health here: https://www.vet.purdue.edu/vth/sacp/documents/ChinchillaWellness.pdf.
When you follow some simple guidelines, you will find your chinchilla is easy to look after. Properly cared for, your pet will live a long, healthy life and give you years of companionship.