Chinchilla Care

Chinchilla Housing   


When chinchillas are out in the wild, their fur is their protector from the elements.  When they are captured and turned into pets, adjustments have to be made in order for them to be comfortable and survive. 


If you plan to keep a pet chinchilla in your house, the animal needs to be somewhere where the area is cool and serene, but eliminating drafts.  If you have an available room in your house, make sure there is plenty of room for the animal to roam.  Chinchillas are very active and they need to have enough space to move freely. 


Don't get cages that are manufactured with plastic; a wire cage is the best quality cage to purchase. 



Chinchillas must be kept in a wire cage, or it will chew its way out. Be sure the wire is not painted or coated with plastic or the Chin will ingest this coating. The wire mesh should have spaces no larger than 1-2 inches (2.6-5.1 cm.) apart,  if you are breeding. Some cages have wire mess bottoms with pull out trays which make cleaning the cage easier. If you have a cage with a mesh shelf, be sure the spaces between the mesh are no more than 0.5 inch (1.3 cm.) apart to avoid leg injuries.  


To house a chinchilla it is recommended that a large cage be used; It's better for them to have a large cage. The length should also be tall (long). The floor space needed is about 24 by 24 inches. If you get a tall cage, get one with shelves and ladders for climbing. This is a great way the chinchilla can stay active. The cages should also have ledges and shelves because chinchillas would naturally love to jump and climb. The cages serve as an artificial and man-made habitat for the chinchillas.  


If you want to make it easier for cleaning purposes, find one with a pull out tray.  The pull out try can have wood shavings (except cedar).  A wire floor is good for them because it keeps their bottoms from getting dirty.  In the event you have a wire floor, you should have a wooden piece to cover the bottom wire area.  This way, their feet won't wear out from constant activity. 


Chinchillas appreciate a secure place to hide. Commercial rodent (e.g. guinea pig) houses can be used, as can such things as PVC pipes, clay pipes, clay pots etc. Even cardboard boxes can be used, although they will likely be chewed up and need to be replaced. PVC pipe can also be used in longer lengths as a combination hide and tunnel for play. The chins cage should be big enough to allow him to get adequate exercise. They enjoy running around and playing and the cage has to be large enough for this, especially if you do not allow your chin much time outside of its cage.  


Chinchillas are very agile and love to climb, so be creative with their cage providing lots of sitting platforms of different heights in the cage, as well as ladders, blocks and platforms for climbing. A chinchilla who does not get to run and play will be an unhappy chin. Also, sturdy branches make a good addition to the cage for climbing (as well as chewing). Arrange the cage furnishings so that they are sturdy and won't shift or fall when the chinchilla climbs on them.  For a good home for chinchillas, try Ware Clean Living 4.0 Small Animal Home


You can put toys into the cage like wooden toys and a wheel if you like but do not put any mesh of any kind in their cages because their nails can get stuck. Never put any plastic in the cage at any time. The Chinchilla is like a guinea pig or a rabbit and can plastic can get caught in their intestines. 


Make sure the cage has good circulation; chinchillas do not sweat so if there body temperature goes over 75 degrees Fahrenheit they can overheat or suffer from heat stroke. Make sure they take a dust bath once a week. They sell the dust in pet stores, it is the only way a chinchilla will clean their fur. Never bathe your chinchilla in water, they cannot dry themselves internally, so if they get wet they water may turn to mould in their fur.  


It is also advisable to use hardwood shavings for the flooring of the chinchilla cage. However, cedar is an exception, because of its toxicity and potential harmful effects on the pet.  


The cage should be placed in a quiet area of the home where human activities won't disturb (and stress) them during the day. The cage should also be located in a cool area (no drafts) and not exposed to direct sunlight which could cause overheating. Sunlight causes the chinchilla to sweat and could lead to overheating.   Summertime temperatures must be monitored to make sure the ambient temperature is not much over 77 F (25 C).  


In the summer, the area where the cage is sitting should be watched and if need be, move it to a cooler section of the house.  You can turn on the air conditioner for a while, or you can add a pan of ice cubes.   If you do not have air conditioning, placing a shallow pan of ice cubes in the cage may help, or drape a damp towel over part of the cage (the evaporation of water is cooling).  


Place the cage on a table or stand as this will help make the chinchilla feel secure (chinchillas can be intimidated if you must lean over the cage to interact with them).  

Make sure your pet has adequate bedding such as Aspen bedding. Never use pine or cedar shavings, the phenols in these chips are very strong and can cause serious problems with respiratory, skin, coat and even liver problems. As long as you can keep your pet happy and healthy there is no reason why they cannot live until they are 20 years old.