Archive for category Chinchillas

How to Care for Chinchilla

Chinchillas make great pets and can live about 20 years if they are treated and taken care well. Here are some important ways of taking care of pet Chinchillas.

Housing:

Chinchillas require plenty of space to move around therefore, its cage should be large enough to accommodate a pair of chinchillas. Never keep these creatures in a glass cage or aquarium as there is less air circulation in these types of cages. The ideal cage size is 2 x 2 x 3 feet.

Since chinchillas have small feet that can easily be caught in big spacing screen of the cage, therefore choose the flooring that has almost 1.5 by 1.5 inch spacing. Also, provide them with solid surfaces on which they can sit comfortably. Wooden shelves, made of wood such as pine, poplar, apple, and aspen, are best for this purpose. Never leave any plastic or cloth item in the cage as chinchillas are in habit of chewing everything. Provide them plenty of toys for playing and chewing.

Temperature:

Chinchillas are very sensitive to temperature, and cannot be kept in temperatures above 75 F. Keeping them in temperatures over 75 F will overheat them, and if they are not cooled down immediately, they can die. It is advisable to keep terra cotta pots or marble tiles in the freezer for emergency situations so that you can treat your pet in time. For those who live where temperature gets over 75 F, it becomes compulsory to have air conditioning when owning a Chinchilla.

Diet:

Feed your Chinchilla a diet of Alfalfa and Timothy hay along with high quality Chinchilla pellets. Do not give them treats frequently. In wild, Chinchillas used to eat varied diet, and cannot properly digest too many treats. However, if you want to give your pet treats, then only give one treat twice or thrice a week. The treats should not be larger than the size of a raisin.

When it comes to water, do not give Chinchillas tap water. Instead, give them filtered or purified water. This is important because Chinchillas are prone to certain things, such as Giardia, in tap water. Giardia can cause severe diarrhea and it should be treated by a veterinarian. It is also important to change the water on daily basis to keep your pet healthy.

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Chinchilla Care

Chinchillas are among the affable animals that require proper care. They need to be handled with great care and gentleness as they are very delicate and frail. Here are some tips that can help you in handling and taking care of your pet chinchillas.

  • When lifting your chinchilla, it is important to do it gently. First, slide your hand under its belly and put your other hand on top of the chinchilla. Make it feel secure by using the hand under the chin to hold its hind legs and bum. Never hold your pet too tightly however keep in mind that they can be fidgety, therefore hold them firmly. Remember never squeeze them particularly around the upper chest. This is because they have a ‘floating ribcage’ and your careless handling can result in severe internal injuries to your pet chinchilla.
  • Generally, using no soap or chemicals is advised. However, you can mix a small quantity of bleach with the hot water and swish it around the cage’s plastic pan and then clean it thoroughly with hot water and then let it air dry. This is a good way to kill most of the bacteria that can be harmful for your pet.
  • Give your pet a dust bath for 10 to 15 minutes anywhere from daily to twice a week. Remember excessive dust bathing will result in dryness, whereas scanty will result in building up of oils in their coats, resulting in a disfiguring and deadly fungus to grow on their skin.
  • Since chinchillas are extremely active animals, therefore they require proper opportunity to exercise every day. For this, provide them an exercise wheel that has a solid surface and is not made of wire or mesh, which can entangle their feet. When letting your chinchillas out of the cage for supervised play time, it must be in a small, chinchilla proof room. This is important because chinchillas can jump many feet in the air and can easily squeeze through little spaces. They can also gnaw on furniture, wires, and anything they can get their teeth on.
  • In order to maintain their dental health, give them something to chew on. Since their teeth can grow up to 12 inches per year, it is suggested to buy a special block of wood or pumice stone for your pet to chew on.
  • Since chinchillas overheat easily, therefore keep them cool. They cannot live temperatures over 75 Fahrenheit or below 50 Fahrenheit. It is recommended to keep their cage in a cool room with proper air circulation.

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Choosing Chinchillas as Pets

Like any other pet animal, it is necessary to take special consideration before buying a chinchilla in order to ensure that this animal is the right pet for you. Some of the important considerations include the following:

  • Chinchillas are nocturnal and thus most active during the night.
  • Since they have fragile bones that can be easily broken by the handling of young kids, therefore, keep your pets away from them.
  • Although chinchillas are generally very friendly and social however they must not be over-handled.
  • Their excrement smells really bad, hence ensure to clean out the cage and change the bedding daily.
  • These animals can live up to 20 years; therefore, you need to be ready to commit to take care of this animal for the whole duration of its life.
  • Always buy your chinchilla from a highly regarded breeder. The majority of breeders offer you to return your pet animal if you find any difficulty in taking care of it properly.

A list of things that you will need in order to keep your chinchillas happy and healthy is as follows:

  • A large cage
  • Chinchilla food (without treats added in it)
  • You can also use dry, uncooked, unflavored oatmeal to mix in with the dry food for a treat, or if your pet is having a stomach trouble.
  • Timothy hay
  • Chew toy
  • Wheel
  • Chinchilla unscented dust bath
  • Water bottle and food dish
  • Kiln dried shavings as bedding
  • Wooden, cardboard, and soft material houses
  • A nice place to have your chinchilla get exercise
  • Love and proper attention

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Toys for Chinchillas

It is not necessary to have toys in the cage of Chinchilla, however if you want to place toys in it, you need to ensure that they are safe to use.

When buying wheels for Chinchillas, make sure that they are large enough so that your pet Chinchilla does not have to run in an unnatural way. They should have a smooth running surface and should not have crossbars. It is better to closely watch your pet that uses wheels because they may become fixated and have difficulty in maintaining their body weight.

When selecting toys for your pet, you need to ensure that they are made with safe woods and other materials that are not harmful when ingested. Also, since Chinchillas overheat easily, therefore avoid putting them in the plastic balls used for hamsters.

Chinchillas like to hide, and if you give them some hiding places in their cage, they will love it. For this purpose, you can use a large coffee can or a small glass goldfish tank. Also, you can build small wooden houses for them.

Many owners give their pet Chinchillas some time to spend outside their cage. These animals are very inquisitive and feel the need to investigate everything, such as chair legs and electrical wires. Therefore, it is important to allow your Chinchilla to run loose in a limited area that has been cleared of electric cords and other harmful things.

Always keep an eye on them and remember that over exercise can result in lose body weight, inhibiting breeding.

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Handling a Chinchilla

Since your chinchilla is a very little animal that is easily scared, you need to be very careful in handling him. If he has been scared before opening his cage, he may dash from corner to corner. It is best to gradually reach into the cage with one hand and follow him around until you securely grab the tail near the base. Picking up a chinchilla from a tail is the most acceptable and the proper way.

Once you grab his tail, place your other hand under his body, especially his strong hind legs, and take him out of the cage in an upside-down position. While doing this, you need to be very careful and ensure that you do not lose him. This is important because he is very sturdy and can make a huge jump. A sudden fall can result in a broken bone or internal injury.

On the other hand, if your chinchilla is calm and has not been formerly scared, you can reach into the cage and pick him up easily by using both of your hands in a scooping motion. Your pet will be easier to handle once he gets used to being handled more.

It is strongly forbidden to grasp your chinchilla by his back or his neck as this may cause injury and fur loss. Moreover, avoid squeezing him around his ribs as they have a floating rib cage, and squeezing can cause internal injuries.

Chinchillas rarely bite, especially if they are frightened or overly excited. Occasionally, their bites of inquisitiveness may become severe than you expect. If his bite breaks the skin, rinse it and care for it like you would normally care for a scrape.

Like any other animal, it is best to keep chinchillas in places where there are no loud noises in the surroundings. You may play a soft music in order to help neutralize most noises and to create an ideal, uniform environment for your pet chinchillas.

If at any time you are having trouble in catching your chinchilla, use a fish net or live trap to catch him. When your chinchilla is hidden some where and you are unable to find him, it is best to look in the darkest, most remote corner, as he will most likely be there.

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Chinchilla Habitat

It is necessary to take specialconsideration before buying a chinchilla. A few general considerations include facts such as chinchillas are nocturnal and are mostly active at night. They do not do well around young kids as they have fragile bones that can be easily broken by a handling of a young kid. These animals can live up to 20 years. Keeping in view these facts, consider the following guidelines when placing your chinchillas.

    • Away from humidity
    • Not close to drafty areas
    • Away from direct sunlight
    • Proper air circulation without blowing directly on them
    • Away from a heat source
    • Protected from outside intruders
    • Temperatures not over 80 degrees Fahrenheit in hot weather and not below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in cold weather.

Chinchillas like to live in a nice, clean cage with good air circulation. A very large cage is not necessary as they do not need a lot of exercise. Some guidelines have been made for minimum cage size, which are as under:

  • 2200 cubic inches for breeders
  • 1500 cubic inches for a single chinchilla
  • 1 square foot of floor space or 8 cubic feet of room space per chinchilla

Having enough space for chinchillas will allow them to exercise easily and stay healthy. Although larger cages are good, however ensure that cages are safe for chinchillas. Chinchillas are excellent jumpers and do not need ramps, however if you want to have ramps in their cages then they should be made of a solid material because chinchilla’s small feet can easily get caught in wire ramps. Select a wired cage instead of wooden cage as chinchillas can chew the wood easily.

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