At AllThingsNature, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Keeping a chinchilla as a pet will not appeal to all types of pet owners, but this member of the rodent family, which is native to South America, can give much pleasure in households where it is a good match. Having a chinchilla as a pet in the home is beneficial for pet lovers who have allergies to furred animals because these exotic pets do not have dander, the substance that triggers many pet allergies. They will keep themselves clean and prefer to do it with dust baths. Another advantage is their resistance to fleas, stemming from the lanolin that is naturally present in their soft fur. Chinchillas have specific environmental requirements that are not hard to provide, but these requirements must be met.
Chinchillas are playful and active, especially at certain times of the day. They are classified as crepuscular, meaning their activity level rises markedly at dusk and dawn each day. Experts suggest they do better in a home that does not have young children; they do not enjoy being squeezed or heavily petted, although soft stroking of some areas are enjoyed. These animals also do best when their diet is strictly monitored because some types of food can have an adverse effect on their digestion. Keeping a chinchilla as a pet also means monitoring the temperature in their environment because they do not have sweat glands that would allow them to regulate their bodies’ temperature.
To keep a chinchilla as a pet in the average household, certain materials and considerations should be kept in mind. These exotic pets need a lot of exercise, and they’ll get it on their own if their owners keep the environment stocked with appropriate toys, such as a metal wheel that is large enough for them to run on. Chinchillas also greatly enjoy climbing and will benefit from having shelves to climb on. In addition, they have a natural tendency to burrow, requiring appropriate materials in their cages. Keeping a chinchilla as a pet also requires a little vigilance on the owner’s part because some natural substances are poisonous for them, such as the cedar chips an owner might use in another type of pet’s cage.
Care requirements when keeping a chinchilla as a pet also include making sure they have the proper type of wood to chew on to keep their ever-growing teeth in good health. Keeping a chinchilla as a pet means understanding that if they chew their pine shelves or other pine toys they are not being merely destructive, but they are performing a necessary physical requirement for good health. Owners also need to provide a good-size dust bath for chinchillas because this is their preferred method of remaining clean.