Chinchillas can be housed with others
of the same sex, as long as they do not fight. Fighting or getting
along depends on the individual animals. Conflict can be reduced
provided the chinchillas are either introduced when young, or if
older, are introduced gradually. Males and females will get along
well, although they must be spayed or neutered to avoid
Since chinchillas are very active animals, it is preferred to house
them in a large enclosure, such as a room of their own instead of a
small cage. If kept in a cage, the chinchillas should have a large
area with shelves or other obstacles on which to play. The
cage should be taller than it is wide, as the chinchilla's natural
environment is very mountainous. Chinchillas also need other forms
of stimulation, such as hanging wooden toys, large wheels, or paper towel tubes. Wooden sticks
and chew toys are also good options, but conifer woods (especially
cedar) should be avoided because of high content of resins that are
toxic for chinchillas. Birch, willow, apple or pear are
all safe woods for chinchillas to chew. Plastic in the cage should
be avoided at all times. Chinchillas are often voracious chewers,
and any ingested plastic can cause blockage in the intestines. As
with most small animals, red cedar bedding should never be used due
to its toxic nature. The cage must have good air circulation. The
chinchilla lacks the ability to sweat; therefore, if temperatures
get above 75°F, the chinchilla could get overheated and may
suffer from heat stroke.
Active and inquisitive by nature, chinchillas need to spend some
time outside of the cage (around half an hour a day and always
supervised) to exercise and to satisfy their curiosity.
Chinchillas can be found in a variety of colors including the
standard grey, beige, ebony, tan, white and others. They
instinctively clean their fur by taking dust baths several times a
week, in which they roll around in a container full of special
chinchilla dust made of sand or fine pumice. It is important that if
a chinchilla should get wet to carefully dry them quickly because
their fur retains the moisture and can grow fungus or rot if not
dried quickly with a blow dryer on a low, cool setting or preferably gently with a towel.
Chinchillas have evolved to eat and digest desert grasses and cannot
efficiently process fatty foods or too many green plants.
Their diet is very simple and should be closely adhered to.
Look on the Nutrition page for