Newest Review: ... nesting box just a bit bigger where they like to sleep and also hoard food. Chinchillas have to have a dust bath daily, this involves ... more
Member Name: Leolover
Date: 30/10/01, updated on 30/10/01 (258 review reads)
Advantages: entertaining, affectionate pets, gorgeous fur, clean and don't smell
Disadvantages: more expensive than other pets, time needed to clean cage
Many people feel their home isn’t a home without a pet of some kind. I’m one of these people, and I’d ideally love to have a dog or a cat, but as I live in a fairly small flat and work all day, it isn’t practical and wouldn’t be fair to such a dependent animal. For anyone who feels the same way...I highly recommend a chinchilla as the ideal pet!
Chinchilla’s are small furry mammals, slightly smaller than a rabbit, and the best way I can think of describing them is like a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel. They are nocturnal, which means they are awake most of the night, and they can live up to 15 years if cared for properly. They require a large cage suitably equipped with plenty of things to chew, standard chinchilla food once a day, and a daily dust bath – chinchillas bathe in fine dust rather than water, and a chinny taking its bath is the cutest, funniest thing you’re ever likely to see!
I have two chinchillas, Odin (a male beige, 5 months old) and the more recent addition to our little family, Freya – a female charcoal tipped grey. They are both completely different in temperament - Odin is extremely lively and vocal, he doesn’t like to be stroked but will happily bound all over the room and everyone in it when let out of the cage. Freya is very placid and quiet, she doesn’t vocalise at all but likes to sit in her dust bath and chew straw, when let out of the cage she might trot about for a little while but is happy to be returned to it.
The plan is for Odin and Freya to eventually mate and produce babies, but as Freya’s only been with us for just under a week we’re keeping them separated at the moment, until she gets used to the cage and the smell and sound of her new mate. A chinchilla pregnancy lasts for approximately three months and the female should not be handled during this time. Usually only one baby will be produced, although tw
o or three is not unlikely.
One important tip for chinchilla keeping...Buy your chin from a private breeder rather than a pet shop. In particular STAY AWAY from large pet superstores such as Petsmart and Petsworld. Chinchillas are very timid animals and the first few months are crucial in the development of their confidence and will affect their temperament for the rest of their lives. A chinchilla who is used to being handled by its owners and has spent the first few months of its life in a stable environment will have a much better temperament than one who has been kept in a noisy pet store, surrounded by strange, frightening smells and gawked at by hundreds of different people every day. A chinchilla raised in such an environment is also likely to be weak and stressed, as the noisiness of a petshop during the day is not compatible with its need to sleep. All the chinchillas I examined in pet shops looked nervous, twitchy and miserable.
A chinchilla will provide its owners with hours of fun and affection. It’s important to let a chinchilla have a run outside its cage at least every other day, as they need the exercise and enjoy the interaction between them and their owner. This is why chinchillas are the perfect pet for full time workers – they are self sufficient enough to be left on their own during the say, but are affectionate and lively pets in the evening.
In the wild, chinchillas are desert rock hoppers and this is evident in the way they leap from object to object – Odin’s favourite move is to leap from the bed to the washing basket and then up onto the windowsill. They must be watched at all times, as they are likely to chew EVERYTHING, particularly things they shouldn’t! Both my sofa and table have suffered from the dreaded chinny chew! My chinchillas love chewing on pumice stones to keep their teeth short and sharp, but anything will do….shoes, books, pillows, they’re not fussy!
It’s very important to make sure a chinchilla doesn’t become too hot. Chinchillas are uncomfortable with high temperatures and can even fall victim to something called ‘heat prostration’ where they collapse and lie on their sides breathing shallowly and appearing very ill. Luckily, my flat is quite airy and I have a fan for the summer, so my chins don’t suffer too badly with the heat. NEVER put a chinchillas cage near a radiator or in direct sunlight – this would be very harmful for your pet
I’d recommend chinchillas above every other pet apart from a cat or dog. I’ve kept lots of other animals – hamsters are sweet but too small to interact with properly, rats I just could not get on with, and mice and gerbils tend to be a bit smelly. Chinchillas look and feel gorgeous and are lively, intelligent and clean. I love mine to bits, and can’t wait for them to have babies...I’ll update this op when the first litter is born!
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