OK there's been a lot about unusual and fun critters on GAG lately and I decided to do a new take and cover another critter which I own 4 of (2 are rescue) and share with you my knowledge and some dos and do not's with help from Partner Hannah
The chinchilla is from the high area's of the Andes mountain range they are very difficult to find there because they are very fast and can behind rocks and trees etc with ease sadly in the 1940's and 1950's chinchilla's where hunted for their coats hence why you sometimes find chinchilla fur clothing thankfully the majority of chinchilla fur these day's is faux as Chinchilla hunting/killing or any act of cruelty for fur is a very serious criminal offence in the uk and a very serious criminal act in the states.
they are often referred to by many names and descriptions like its a cross between a squirrel and a rabbit and a ferret and a mouse that's probably the most bizarre description I have heard to be honest , the Chinchilla belongs in the rodent family and like a hamster , mouse or rat Chinchilla's are nocturnal so they sleep in the daytime and become very active at night and very noisy!.
Getting a chinchilla
Now getting a Chinchilla is really easy if you have around £100 for a standard color but a lot of Specialists who sell them will often not allow chinchilla's to be given to just anyone they expect the new owner to be able to show the basic ability to care for these critters as they require some specialist care so it's essential to read up first and understand their needs and requirements , unfortunately small pet shops don't show this level of care and often sell them without any questions asked , thankfully the bigger pet stores after controversy from breeders and owners a few years ago often now train staff to deal with the animals , I know you are asking me now what specialist care do they need?
Well chinchilla's fur is incredibly dense so they can withstand cold temperatures at altitude as they live near the top of the range it not only keeps them warm in the cold it also has special characteristic which makes them impressive animals in there own right ;
1. it cannot get flea's or ticks
2. 2. its hypo-allergenic & Super clean as its so dense
3. 3. they can also shed it in defence if attacked by a predator often forcing the predator to retreat.
Care of the fur is important you cannot and must never use water on them meaning they also can pick sometimes pick up the nickname of a mogwai because the fictional pet from gremlins could also never be touched with water In a chinchilla's case it can cause the fur to get extremely tangled up and matted and you can end up endangering its health and also its life as it will become very stressed and stress to most if not all animals is a killer.
so you need a special mixture of volcanic sand and a sand bath container which they will roll in and usually make a mess of your floor these can be bought at pet shops for not too much never use standard sand you will damage the fur and may even leave bald spots where the coarse nature has removed it also you will run a high risk of injuring your chinchilla(s) and cause nasty sores or infections and vet bills for chinnies are not cheap.
Its advisable to give them sand baths twice a week no more and for no more than an hour max otherwise it will remove all the oils from the chinchilla's fur making it brittle and possibly fall out and time wise it will become containmated and you will have to clean the sand before use again.
Chinchilla's love to play whether alone or with other chinchilla's when they are active but they don't like to be handled and will viciously bite and will shed fur if they feel threatened but they can be tamed with the owner over a few months by spending time with them and letting them come to you when they trust you and see you are not a threat to them , they don't understand danger or what they should not eat like we do and like children you must keep anything you don't want chewed or damaged (chinchilla's their teeth are always growing so they need to keep gnawing them down) to pieces (my partner's had bra's , tights and sadly a dress destroyed) secure and out of harms way electric cables are most dangerous even just like to a human and could cause electric shocks to them which would kill them instantly.
many pet stores will sell Chinchilla playpens they are just like children's ones it keeps them safe and you can catch the critters quickly after playtime they run fast so its always good to know how to catch them or know how to trick them back into the cage chinchilla pellet works often works a treat.
This is where many people fail to understand these critters will live for around 10 - 16 years + so its a big commitment like if your taking on a cat or dog for example but unlike a dog or cat that can be put in a kennel or cattery you need someone to look after them for you.
Hay makes up most of a chinchilla's diet , combined with grass it helps keep the teeth at the correct length and shape as I said earlier , instead of filling the cage with a wad of grass and hay most owners buy chinchilla pellets or chinchilla mix these contain all the required items such as the grass and hay but you can also give them shredded wheat but it must contain zero sugar and it should never been given in mass amounts.
Like any animal you must ensure its got water at all times , so there's not much to say here really
Chinchilla's are social animals they love company but they are ok alone but you must ensure you give them enough to keep occupied otherwise they will get bored , you must never however house a male and female together unless you know what you are doing chinchilla breeding can be dangerous to the female and you must never immediately put male or female's together straight away because they will fight each other sometimes to the death the correct procedure is
1. Place them in separate cages and place them next to each other
2. Wait a while maybe a few weeks and let them get used to each other slowly then slowly introduce them make sure you are close to prevent any outburst's
3. if it goes well then slowly introduce the new chinchilla to the cage and monitor closely again you may need to react again if they start fighting again if they don't fight and seem happy then they are likely to be happy together a really good sign to look for is chinchilla's love to sleep together my three often sleep with there heads buried in each others fur its adorable to see.
Minimum Cage Size
The Veterinary Center for Birds and Exotics says the minimum cage size for an adult chinchilla should be at least 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet. If you keep more than one chinchilla in a cage -- which chins prefer, as they as social creatures -- make sure it has a minimum of 2 square feet of floor space per pet. If it's a wire-bottomed cage, place plywood or another flat, solid material in places on the cage floor so your chinchillas aren't always standing on wire, even if it's well-bedded. Too much time spent on wire can create pressure sores on their feet.
The cage should contain multiple levels within it so your chinchilla can climb and jump. Since they can jump as high as 6 feet, install a cage that large if you have the room. However, length is better than height if you don't have room for both long and tall. Since rodents are prey animals, you'll want to keep the cage off the floor, as this makes them anxious. Put it on a table or stand. If you plan to breed chinchillas, you'll need a separate, single-level cage for the mother when she's due to give birth. Babies can climb as soon as they're born, so they shouldn't live in a high cage. They could fall and injure themselves.
Keep the cage out of drafts and away from direct sunlight. Don't place it in a damp or humid area or right next to a heat source. Chinchillas are sensitive to heat. Never allow the habitat temperature to rise above 80 degrees or 26c , or you could come home to dead chinchillas. The temperature should never fall below 50 degrees or 10c . Keep the cage scrupulously clean for your pet's health.
your chins need a few furnishing in their cage to keep them content. if you're keeping chins in pairs, providing hiding places for distraction and sleeping. These can be small boxes nestled inside the cage. You can also install platforms and ramps for your pet to climb and jump off.
I will end the take here but if there is anything else you would like to know please ask thankyou to the providers of the images in the take.
and for those that may ask my 4 are called
Chloe who is 3 and half and white ,
Lola (rescue) (named after Lola Bunny) and is 9 months old now and a little terror she causes 90% of the playfights & tries to fight big sisters chloe and Emma but they soon put lola back in her place and also is responsible for nearly all of the cage escape attempts.
Emma who's 4 black velvet
Poppy (rescue) who's 1 white
Kerbie & Hannah