Frieda the Pet Chinchilla
Chinchillas are such adorable and playful animals which make wonderful pets, especially for people who live in small apartments and who can not take on the many responsibilities that go with caring for a larger pet.
Chinchillas in the Wild
These two chinchillas belong to my daughter who purchased them from a breeder in Utah. Chinchillas are native to Peru and Chile and are very social animals. In their natural habitat, they live in groups and built their homes by making burrows or in natural occurring crevices. It's hard to believe that such cuteness belongs to the rodent family - I am not a big fan of rodents, but I adore these cuties, who can live up to 20 year of age! Chinchillas weigh about 1 to 1.5 pounds and can grow up to a foot long. They have button like eyes and fairly big, round ears and their fur is extremely soft and dense. Chinchillas fur can be either grey, black, white,beige or tan color.
Chinchillas are nocturnal and very playful and love to investigate anything that comes across their path. Be prepared to hear them jumping around at night time and having some serious fun when you are about ready to call it a night. Since they are highly social, it is generally recommended to keep two in one cage. It is a lot of fun to watch them play together and become vocal. If keeping two is not possible make sure the interact a lot with your new pet. Chinchillas need a great deal of attention and they thrive on shows of affection from their owners. Because of their size, Chinchillas need gentle handling and might not be suitable for very young children.
Chinchilla Living Quarters (cage)
I forgot to take photos of my daughter's cage, but I found this great video a Chinchilla owner has put together that shows the size and set up of the cage.
The larger the better, you want your chinchillas to hop around and have fun. Most importantly the cage needs to be chew proof and at least measure 16" x 20" x 16" (for one pet). Make sure to place the cage away from direct sun light. Chinchillas don't like to get hot! Imagine standing all day in the sun wearing a fur coat and you will quickly know where to place the cage.
Provide ample areas to hide in and tunnels to explore. Chinchillas love to jump onto wooden ledges that are attached at different heights, so think about a vertical set up as well. A large exercise wheel with a solid base will provide much needed exercise for caged animals and therefore the cage needs to be large enough to accommodate one.
Chinchillas take dust baths and will need a dust bin and dusting powder. The dust powder works to eliminate excess moisture and remove oils that often saturate your chinchilla's coat. My daughter places her Chinchillas bin in a dry bathtub and lets them run in and out the bath as much as they like. This way, once the Chinchillas are back in their cages, clean up is fast and easy.
Remember I mentioned that Chinchillas are rodents? Well that means that your new pet will need wooden chew toys to chew on regularly to prevent the teeth from becoming too long.
Food and Treats
Commercial pellet food is available at most major pet stores. Chinchillas also love hay and alfa alfa. Treats can be nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Supplement their diet with minerals from a salt block and vitamin C drops added to their water bottle.
Frida and Peppi are siblings.