Our team at Boulder Veterinary Hospital is qualified to provide general wellness services for a number of exotic pets, including chinchillas. We recommend that pet chinchillas be examined at least once annually by one of our vets. If you notice your pet chinchilla acting abnormally, please call our animal hospital to consult with your veterinarian. Some signs and symptoms of potential illness include defecating less (or not at all), not eating or decreased appetite, appearing uncomfortable, or acting quieter than usual.
A comfortable, well-kept environment is important to your chinchilla’s health and happiness. Some important elements for a healthy living environment include:
Chinchilla Care Tips
- Chinchillas should have unlimited access to grass hay at all times. Options include timothy, orchard, and meadow hay.
- 1/8 cup of quality timothy hay-based pellets should be offered per day for adult chinchillas.
- Our veterinarians recommend the Oxbow brand of hay and hay pellets.
- Fresh vegetables and fruits can also be offered in small amounts of ½ teaspoon per day.
- Treats high in sugar, such as yogurt treats, are not recommended as they can cause digestive upset.
- While chinchillas are nocturnal animals, they can also be active during the day.
- Chinchillas are peaceful creatures and do well living together with other chinchillas of the same sex.
- A large enclosure is necessary to allow your chinchilla lots of room for activity, but they should also have at least 30 minutes of supervised activity/playtime outside their enclosure every day.
- A dust bath should not be a permanent structure in your chinchilla’s habitat and should only be offered for 30 minutes at a time on a daily basis.
- Chewing materials should always be available to your chinchilla to help them relieve stress and reduce the risk of dental overgrowth. Branches of unsprayed deciduous trees, such as willow, birch, and hazelnut, are suitable to offer. Do not offer branches from stone fruit trees or conifer trees.
- Chinchillas require a large amount of space in their enclosure, with multiple levels to allow for jumping and climbing. A small-wire enclosure is recommended and should be at least 20” wide by 60” tall.
- The floor of an enclosure should be solid and covered with a paper-based absorbable product. Additional levels should be lined with anti-slip mats to avoid sores from developing on their feet.
- In addition to multiple levels, wooden platforms, and branches, hiding spaces and caves should be available to each chinchilla in the enclosure.
- Chinchillas can be litterbox trained, but their enclosure should still be fully cleaned at least once a week and placed with fresh bedding, hay, food, and water.
- The enclosure should be placed in a room at a cooler temperature of 59-70°F with humidity below 40%, as your chinchilla can easily become heat-stressed.
- Chinchillas have sensitive respiratory tracts and should not be exposed to candles, incense, aerosol products, aromatic diffusers/essential oils, or heavily scented cleaning products. When cleaning and disinfecting their enclosure and furniture, be sure to fully rinse each piece with water and air dry before placing it back inside the enclosure.