reply to post by Hefficide
They are pretty great! Another great thing about them is they're considered to be hypoallergenic. They don't shed and have no dander, so they're
perfect for people with allergies. Whenever someone is selling one because of allergies it's usually because of the hay they need to eat or the dust
baths they need to take. An easy way around that though is to feed compressed hay cubes. There is almost no dust from them! Also, as chinchillas are
becoming more popular, many of the dust companies are developing allergy-safe dust for them too.
They do always seem to have more personality than rabbits or other animals. Another thing is they are incredibly long lived for rodents. They
typically live to be 12 to 15 years old. Hearing of chins that are over 20 years old is not terribly uncommon either.
Being a breeder, I have to say not to buy from a pet store. That goes for pretty much any animal though. Granted, pet stores have to get their animals
from somewhere, but you still never know what you'll end up with. It mostly boils down to pet stores not always keeping their chins in the best
environments, illnesses can spread a lot more easily between them (rabbits are carriers for diseases that are deadly to chins), and the staff aren't
always as knowledgeable about what they're selling.
The basics that you'll need to keep a chinchilla as a pet are listed below:
1.) A large cage! It doesn't have to be wide or long, just tall. Chins love to jump! When fully grown can even jump six feet up with ease! It's
pretty awesome to see. I usually recommend a cage that is two feet square at the base by four feet tall. You'll want to position the shelves so that
they can't fall all the way from the top to the bottom, just to be safe. The cage should have a solid bottom, as wire bottomed cages can lead to
broken toes, legs, and an infection known as bumblefoot.
2.) A glass water bottle and ceramic or stone food dish. Chinchillas are rodents, and as such always need to chew to keep their teeth filed to the
proper length. If you give them a plastic water bottle chances are that it will get nibbled on and spring a leak. Then you have a mess, possibly a wet
chin, and need to buy a new water bottle! The food dish is also to prevent them from chewing on it, plus the weight of it keeps them from knocking it
over and wasting food.
3.) The correct
type of bedding! There are a few ways you can go with this. The big thing is to never
use fresh pine bedding or cedar
bedding. There are toxins in the wood than can make a chin very ill or even be fatal. Examples of safe beddings to use are kiln dried pine, recycled
paper bedding, or fleece cage liners. The recycled paper bedding is great and very absorbent, but very expensive. The kiln dried pine (what we use) is
cheapest, but has to be changed more often. The fleece cage liners are the most expensive up front, but if you buy two or three and rotate them in and
out for cleaning pretty regularly you'll never need to worry about buying bedding again.
4.) Food! Chins have sensitive digestive systems, so you'll need to buy the same food that they are used to eating. Switching them to a new food too
quickly can lead to digestive illnesses and, in some cases, death. A high quality rabbit pellet is the best for them. They actually have poor
capabilities for digesting sugars and fats, so treats are usually not recommended. Safe treats to use are Cheerios, whole rose hips, and unsweetened
banana chips. Chins also need hay to eat. They need a blend of alfalfa and timothy hays. You'll need to make sure it's still green. If it's
yellowed or browned it has lost a lot of its nutrients. The hay also helps them keep their teeth filed!
5.) Chewing sticks, blocks and stones. Since they need to keep their teeth filed down they are always chewing on things. Buying them toys they will be
attracted to will help keep them from chewing on parts of the cage.
6.) A hiding house. They do love their privacy sometimes, so something to hide in is always nice. You can use a wooden house, or buy one formed out of
hay. Either way, they will eventually chew it to pieces, but the houses usually are less than $15 and last a month or two.
7.) A wheel! They do love to run, so this gives them that capability safely. Chins that are six months or younger should not be allowed to run on the
wheel. It can lead to an enlarged heart, which can cause health complications further down the road of life. Never buy one of the rolling balls, even
if the packaging says it's for chinchillas. They usually lack adequate ventilation and the chin could easily overheat, leading to heat stroke or
I think that about covers it. Besides, I'm running out of room to type! You may notice a lot of rules in there. We joke that they're like Gremlins.
It's also why we have a Gizmo, Stripe, Mogwai, and Daffy.