Caring For Chinchillas
Provide the best for your furry friend
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.
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.
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.
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.