Looking after a chinchilla everyday involves putting in a little effort each and every day and keeping to a routine to ensure that your chinchilla is well looked after and valued.
This starts from the very first day that you bring your chinchilla home and continues there after. Ensuring your chinchilla is well looked after can be very rewarding for everyone involved and will ensure that you see them at their very best.
Bringing Your Chinchilla home
Before bringing your chinchilla home its important to get organised so that everything is ready for their arrival.
Everything from housing, food, a feeding bowl, a water bottle, bedding material, furnishings and gnawing material needs to be in place by the time they arrive.
Your local pet store may not have everything you need so give your self some time to prepare and to buy the things that you need before it comes to its new home.
Housing a chinchilla
Decide what housing you would like for them. There are many types of cages and housing that you can get for your chinchilla.
They need a relatively spacious home not just because of their size but because they are lively creatures by nature and do like to run around.
So its good to give them space.
Where to keep a chinchilla
Think about where your chinchilla’s cage can be accommodated in your home.
They cant be kept outside so a place in your home is a must if you want to keep a chinchilla.
Select an area where you can see them easily and where you can enjoy watching them play, and so they can get to know your household and the people in it.
This place should allow you to interact with them everyday and will help them to get to know and trust you. They are social animals and enjoy interaction with humans so do require attention and affection on a daily basis.
Where not to keep a chinchilla
Avoid areas which are likely to overheat or are susceptible to drafts.
Places like stairways or hall’s are not good for this as they are very draughty areas.
The kitchen is also not a good place to keep a chinchilla because it is a place where the temperature can rise significantly.
A bedroom is also not a good place, even though your child may want to keep the chinchilla in with them. This is because they are nocturnal creatures and just as you are going to sleep, they are waking up and will want to scamper around and thus keep you awake.
Where to place a chinchilla cage
Chinchillas are very nervous creatures by nature. As prey animals they are always on the look out for predators who are out to get them.
Even though the chinchilla will be domesticated they have not lost that fear of predators and because of this, if they are placed in the centre of a room, they are likely to feel stressed because their accommodation can be approached on all sides.
Its much better to poition their accomodation in the corner of the room therefore so they can only be approached by two sides at maximum. They will feel much more relaxed as a consequence.
Likewise, its also not a good idea to place the cage on the floor as to have a human towering above them will scare them and cause them more stress.
The best height is a position where they are at the same height as you so you can easily reach into their cage with your hand and be much less threatening to them.
If you have a piece of furniture that can support the cage or if you can find a cage that has a supporting stand this will be much better.
However, it must be secure and sturdy.
If you keep it above ground it also means that the cage can be free of drafts and mean that any pets are less likely to get at the cage. If you do have a cat, make sure that the cage is tall enough so that you cat cannot jump up to it.
How to look after a chinchilla’s cage
When cleaning out a chinchilla’s cage, there are some steps that you can take to make it easy for yourself.
Take out the chinchilla and place in a safe place.
Chinchilla’s are quite tidy pets in comparison to other pets. Their accommodation is easy to maintain and will just need to be spot cleaned daily of poop and then cleaned thoroughly on a weekly basis.
For the weekly clean, empty out their quarters of all wood shavings and newspaper and give it a good scrub with pet detergent cleaner. Don’t use normal detergent for risk of poisoning the chinchilla.
Clean out their water bottle and replace with fresh water.
If you have bedding like fleece or towelling, don’t leave it too long between a wash.
Replace everything that has been cleaned out with new bedding and your chinchilla will be ready to go back into their home
What to do if your chinchilla overheats
As previously mentioned, chinchillas are indoor pets and so cannot be kept outdoors because of the climate.
Chinchillas are very susceptible to heatstroke but also if they are in damp surroundings, can be vulnerable to illness.
They are at their best when kept in a controlled climate.
If they temperature rises about 75 degrees farenheit or 24 degrees centigrade, then they will show signs of heat stress.
Try not to place them in a room which is susceptible to overheating or in front of a window because when the heat of the sun comes in through the glass it will affect the chinchilla.
Symptoms of Chinchilla heat stress
To combat heat stress, chinchillas will try and stretch out rather than remain hunched up as is their normal position.
Their breathing will also become more laboured.
When you see these two symptoms, then it is time to move them to a cooler environment where they will not be exposed to drafts
How to cool a chinchilla
Place an electric fan that is blowing out colder air in their vicinity. Placing it across the other side of the room will mean that they are not directly exposed to it.
Another thing you can do is to place your chinchilla in a room that has air conditioning that you can control. Set the gauge to a lower temperature to one that helps them to be more comfortable.
Ensure that their water bottle is topped up with water so that they are able to drink whenever they need to.
Consider moving your chinchilla to a cooler environment where there is not direct sunlight in through the windows and there is no potential for the room overheating.
Avoid any rooms where the radiator is likely to be on, or make sure the radiator or heater is turned off.
How to handle a chinchilla
Chinchilla’s must be handled with care so as to avoid being injured. If they are handled well from a young age they can be very tame and docile creatures, however if they aren’t handled at all they can be quite vicious as they just aren’t used to you.
To handle them, just slide your hand under their chest and gently lift them whilst supporting their backside with your other hand.
Bring the chinchilla close to your chest whilst maintaining a soft grip on them that doesn’t hurt them.
Take care not to grab their fur as one of the ways that they defend themselves is to throw off their hair which is a skill they have to stop predators from gripping hold of their fur.
Try and handle them each day.
By handling your chinchilla on a daily basis, you can build up a relationship with them and they can learn to trust you and over time your investment in them will pay off.