Chinchillas are rabbit-sized rodents native to the Andes mountains in South America
Chinchillas make good pets for older children or adults. They are easy to look after, friendly and inquisitive and with plenty of time and attention, they can become very tame. They are timid by nature and are can be upset easily if not handled gently, so they are not suitable for very young children. They are nocturnal and generally snooze during the day, becoming more active in the evening. Chinchillas are a long-term commitment and can live for about 15-20 years in captivity.
Chinchillas are very active. Their cage should ideally have several levels or shelves, with Shaved Aspen bedding on floor of the cage. Keep the cage in a place away from direct sunlight, radiators or draughts.
It is recommended feeding your chinchilla twice per day, in the morning and evening. Chinchillas have very sensitive digestive systems. Fibrer ich diets such as hay-based pellets and loose hay will help digestion and maintain healthy teeth. Chinchillas need access to fresh water at all times. It is important to change their water daily and keep the water bottles clean so as not to breed bacteria.
We all love to spoil our animals, but do not give your chinchilla too many treats. A tiny piece of dried whole wheat toast or a little piece of plain shredded wheat cereal given to them once a week or every few days won't do any harm. Other suitable, occassional treats can be a raisin, a craisin, a dried banana chip, a tiny piece of dried guava or an unsalted sunflower seed.
Chinchillas like to keep their soft fur clean and like nothing better than a good dust bath! It may seem unusual but bathing in special chinchilla dust is a vital part of their grooming routine and they should bathe several times a week to keep their coat shiny and clean. Place a chinchilla bath filled with sand in their cage for about 5 minutes at a time, every few days. Do not leave the bath in their cage as they may use it as a toilet. Grooming with a brush or comb will help to keep your chinchillas' coats in good condition as well as helping you to bond too.
Providing branches and tubes gives them hiding holes for food, as they would have in the wild. Chinchillas also love to chew, so providing wooden blocks or natural toys is ideal
Handling your Chinchila
Chinchillas are quick little animals that are easily frightened. Slowly reach into the cage with one hand and follow the animal around until you can firmly grasp, position your other hand under his body, particularly his strong hind legs, and remove him from the cage. Do not squeeze him around his ribs since they have a floating rib cage and this can cause internal injuries