Chinchilla 101

Quick Facts
LIFESPAN: Approximately 10-12 years
SIZE: 9-10” (23-25cm) body plus 6” (15 cm) tail

Socialization & General Care

  • It’s important to get your new friend used to you, and used to being handled. Start by feeding your chinchilla treats by hand and petting him; once he’s comfortable, you can gently and securely pick him up. Hold him for a short time at first, and gradually increase the time. Remember that all pets may bite, scratch or try to escape especially when stressed.
  • With regular, gentle care, chinchillas will bond with their owners.
  • Chinchillas overheat easily and must be kept in a cool environment. Marble cooling slabs made specifically for chinchillas can be cooled and then put into the habitat to reduce their ambient temperature.


  • Chinchillas come from South America


  • Chinchillas are herbivores and a large portion of their diet should consist of hay. Chinchillas that are less than a year old should be fed alfalfa hay which is high in calcium and protein while chinchillas over one year old should be fed timothy hay. Other types of hays can be mixed in to provide variety. Fibre is critical to a chinchilla’s diet as it keeps the intestinal activity normal.
  • For optimal nutrition, your chinchilla should be fed a high quality pellet diet.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables should be offered every other day and any uneaten food should be removed before it spoils. Acceptable choices are dark leafy greens (kale, collard, dandelion), shredded carrot, zucchini, broccoli, papaya, apples and melon.
  • Treats should be offered sparingly; once to twice weekly. Acceptable choices are pre-packaged treats made for chinchillas, raisins and alfalfa hay.
  • Fresh water should be available at all times, and food dishes and water bottles should be cleaned daily.
  • Mineral wheels should be provided in their cage.

Health Issues to Watch For

  • Sneezing, discharge from nose or eyes
  • Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes
  • Diarrhea or discoloured droppings
  • Bare patches in fur
  • Lethargic behaviour
  • Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Shaking

If you notice any of the symptoms above seek veterinary care.

Fun Chinchilla Facts

  • They do not bathe in water, but dust instead. They will flip, roll, dig and play in their quest to be clean.
  • Chinchillas come from South America.
  • The name ‘Chinchilla’ comes from a South American Indian tribe and means Little Chincha.
  • Chinchillas are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and come out to play at night.
  • Chinchillas will do what’s called a fur slip and release a patch of fur if they are frightened. It is designed to help them escape the grasp of a predator. It will grow back and does not harm the chinchilla.

Shopping List
❏ Cage (minimum size 30”x29”x18”); multi-level homes are preferred
❏ Water Bottle
❏ Crock Food Dish/Gravity Feeder
❏ Hay Manger
❏ Hiding/Sleep House
❏ Treat Sticks
❏ Chew Toys
❏ Exercise Pen
❏ Fortified Chinchilla Pellet Diet
❏ Hay (appropriate for age)
❏ Treats
❏ Salt Wheel
❏ Bedding
❏ Bath House
❏ Dust Bath
❏ Marble Cooling Slab

Adopting Small Pets

Adopting Small Pets

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Chinchillas: Cute Little Furr-Babies