Car­ing For Chin­chillas

Pro­vide the best for your furry friend

Clubpets - - OTHER CRITTERS -

With its small, fluffy body and bushy tail, the adorable chin­chilla has be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar amongst pet own­ers. Un­like Rover and Kitty, these lit­tle crit­ters re­quire a lit­tle more than chew toys and oc­ca­sional treats. Ac­tive and cu­ri­ous, not only do chin­chillas need an ad­e­quate amount of space to roam around in, toys are also re­quired to oc­cupy their in­tel­li­gent minds with.

The en­vi­ron­ment

As na­tives of South Amer­ica, chin­chillas are used to low tem­per­a­ture and high hu­mid­ity. Due to their in­abil­ity to ex­pel ex­cess heat, chin­chillas are sus­cep­ti­ble to heat strokes. Their cages should ide­ally be lo­cated away from di­rect sun­light. The ideal room tem­per­a­ture for your pet should range from a cool­ing six­teen to twenty-one de­grees, so do con­sider plac­ing a thin sheet of cot­ton over its cage on warmer days. You may also wish to opt for a cool­ing pad or stone, to pre­vent your pet from over­heat­ing.

Set­ting up the cage

When it comes to choos­ing a cage, the big­ger the bet­ter. chin­chillas are en­er­getic pets that love to jump and play, where they will ben­e­fit greatly from tiered cages. If space is a con­straint, a sin­gle-tiered cage ac­com­pa­nied by reg­u­lar play­times will also do the trick.

An es­sen­tial fac­tor to note is that chin­chillas are de­cep­tively tiny, where their small bod­ies are hid­den by thick fur. To avoid your pet from squeez­ing through the bars of its cage, the space be­tween the bars should be no wider than two cen­time­tres. Make sure that the cage is equipped with a solid bot­tom, as your chin­chilla’s feet may get caught in wire-bot­tom cages. Due to their dense coats of fur, chin­chillas are sus­cep­ti­ble to fun­gus and rot. Avoid these skin com­pli­ca­tions by keep­ing the chin­chilla’s cage dry at all times.

A chin­chilla will re­quire a soft and ab­sorbent lit­ter, to which the pa­per bed­ding is ideal for. Stay clear of pine and cedar shav­ings, as these dusty ma­te­ri­als may pose threats to your pet’s res­pi­ra­tory health. These sharps shav­ings may also cut your chin­chilla’s feet. Bed­ding ma­te­ri­als con­sist­ing of ar­ti­fi­cial colour­ing or fra­grances are best avoided. You may wish to con­sider a lit­ter box, as chin­chillas tend to do their busi­ness in a par­tic­u­lar cor­ner of the cage.

Chin­chilla care

The main diet of a pet chin­chilla con­sists of mainly food pel­lets. Due to the chin­chilla’s del­i­cate di­ges­tive sys­tem, do avoid mak­ing con­stant changes in its diet and if you do, be sure to do so slowly and over a few days. While any food bowl or feeder can be used to feed your pet, hay racks are rec­om­mended to keep the chin­chilla’s hay dry and clean. When it comes to treats, only a small amount is rec­om­mended as over-snack­ing may lead to health com­pli­ca­tions. Due to their thick coats of fur, chin­chillas are not suit­able for wet baths. Dust baths held thrice a week is what your pet needs to keep clean. While the chin­chilla is a pro­fi­cient self-groomer, you may wish to brush the hair of yours with a medium-length comb, to get rid of ex­cess fur.

As with guinea pigs and ham­sters, chin­chillas re­quire a hide area for them to sleep in. Your furry friend should be able to fit com­fort­ably in the hide­out with­out be­ing pressed against it. Do con­sider a wooden as­sem­bled hide­out, such that your pet is able to safely gnaw on the ma­te­rial.

Toys galore

To pre­vent their teeth from over­grow­ing, chin­chillas are of­ten seen grind­ing their teeth. You may wish to pro­vide yours with a va­ri­ety of chew toys, to cater to their chew­ing needs. These toys are important for your pet to keep its teeth healthy. As chin­chillas tend to chew on their en­clo­sures, do keep a look­out for toxic ma­te­ri­als such as paint coat­ings when pur­chas­ing ac­ces­sories and toys.

Like the in­tel­li­gent and cu­ri­ous crit­ters that they are, it is best to pro­vide a chin­chilla with stim­u­lat­ing toys. This can in­clude pieces of wood to chew on, card­board tubes to scam­per through and ex­er­cise wheels to run in.

Chin­chillas are known to be so­cial an­i­mals. In ad­di­tion to toys, you can also con­sider get­ting your pet a mate to play and in­ter­act with. Af­ter all, two is al­ways bet­ter than one.

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