Chinchillas are incredibly cute and furry, and this is the main reason most people consider getting one as a pet. However, just because an animal looks cute doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best choice, which is why it’s important that you first understand exactly what’s involved with caring for an animal before deciding to get one as a pet. While chinchillas can and do make great pets for some, they’re most definitely not the best choice for everyone—especially if you have small children in the home or are generally looking for an animal that likes to be petted and cuddled. Nonetheless, as long as you know what you’re getting in to, owning a chinchilla can definitely be a rewarding experience.
Chinchilla Checklist: Preparing for the Arrival of Your New Pet
Before bringing chinchillas or any other new pets into the home, you first need to make sure that you’re fully ready to care for them properly. This means ensuring that they have the right type of environment, food, etc. It’s also important to know at least a bit about their behavior, health and hygiene habits so you can make sure that they’re thriving in their new environment.
Creating the Proper Environment
Chinchillas are quite active creatures that love to run, jump, and play and chew on things, and you’ll need to make sure that they have plenty of space to do so. A multi-tiered cage is always a good idea, and it should ideally be made out of wood or wire as they’re fond of chewing through plastic. An exercise ball is also a good idea to keep them active, otherwise these smart rodents tend to become extremely bored over time. The cage also needs to have a few inches of good paper or wood bedding. Temperature is also extremely important, as they are quite susceptible to hot temperatures. Ideally, the home should be no warmer than 70 degrees. As well, the cage should never be exposed to direct sunlight and preferably kept in areas that aren’t drafty.
Knowing What to Feed Them
Chinchillas typically eat mostly hay, meaning that you’ll need to make sure there’s a decent supply of good, clean hay in their cage at all times. As well, you’ll want to buy specialty pellets and have these available at all times as well. You can also feed them a small amount of fresh fruits and vegetables as a treat, but these should never exceed 10 percent of the total diet. If you do feed them treats too often, it’s likely that they will eventually refuse to eat anything else, which could severely harm their health. Of course, it’s imperative that they also have a steady supply of fresh, clean water at all times.
Understanding the Importance of the Dust Bath
Chinchillas have very soft fur, which can be extremely prone to matting. In the wild, the rodents prevent mats by occasionally bathing in dust, and you’ll need to ensure they can do the same thing at your home. Your vet or pet-supply store should sell special sterilized dust for this purpose, and you’ll need to put the animal somewhere with the dust for around 15 to 30 minutes at a time at least twice a week. This can be done in the cage, but its best to do it in a part that’s fully separated from the feeding and sleeping areas.
Getting Proper Vet Care
Caring for chinchillas isn’t like caring for other animals, as exotic pets like this require that you visit a veterinarian who knows what they’re doing. Chinchillas will likely need their teeth shortened at some point, and they can also be prone to a range of illnesses when not properly cared for. All of this makes it essential that you find a local vet that has experience dealing with these animals before bringing one into your home since you’ll obviously want to know who to call should your chinchilla suddenly become ill. At the end of the day, caring for chinchillas isn’t all that difficult or that much different than caring for most other pets. As with any other animal you own, all it takes is making sure that you provide them with the proper food, environment and vet care they require, which is easy if you just follow this checklist.