Caging: Wire mesh cages may be used, but a solid floor must be provided to prevent foot pad injuries. Platforms should be provided to allow for exercise and arranged in a way as to prevent contamination of the food and water bowls with feces. Glass aquariums or plastic containers should be avoided due to poor ventilation. Wooden cages should be used with caution as these animals may chew through the enclosure. Paper based bedding is recommended.
Temperature: Chinchillas do not tolerate heat or humidity well. They should be kept in a cool, dry, well lit area with adequate ventilation. The optimal temperature is between 60-75 F.
Pellets: We recommend a commercially available chinchilla diet. If one can not be found, a standard rabbit or guinea pig pellet may be fed in its place. Timothy hay should also be offered as a source of dietary fiber. Generally, alfalfa hay is regarded as a treat food and not recommended as the only fiber source due to its high calcium content. Excessive consumption of alfalfa hay may lead to urinary issues.
Water: Chinchillas can learn to drink from sipper type bottles. Water must be changed daily.
Chinchillas are easily restrained and rarely bite. Care must be taken to avoid ‘fur slip’. ‘Fur slip’ is the patchy shedding of fur as the result of rough handling or tension. Use a towel or washcloth to help support your chinchilla when handling.
Common Medical Conditions
Dental malocclusion: This condition also known as “slobbers” is characterized by excessive drooling or accumulation of food material under the chin. A decrease in size and amount of feces is another sign associated with this disease syndrome. It is caused by the malocclusion of the molar teeth, which then do not wear evenly creating points as the teeth grow. Trimming must be done under general anesthesia. Providing and encouraging the consumption of hay may aid in prevention of dental issues, but most cases have a genetic basis.