Chinchillas are clean, quiet, odourless and attractive rodents that have been bred and farmed for their soft dense fur.
They are quite shy and are more appropriate as pets for adults and older children. Typically chinchillas can live for 10-20 years.
Your duty to care
Owning and caring for a chinchilla can be very rewarding, but it is also a big responsibility. If you own or are responsible for a chinchilla, even on a temporary basis, you are required under the Animal Welfare Act to care for them properly.
Understanding chinchillas’ needs
Chinchillas have only been kept as pets for a relatively short time and experts are still learning about how best to care for them.
There is no one “perfect” way to care for chinchillas but certain essential needs must be met. It is up to you how you look after your chinchilla, but you must take reasonable steps to ensure that you meet all their needs.
Read our expert reviewed pet care information to find out more about the needs of chinchillas: Environment, Diet, Behaviour, Company and Health and welfare.
Chinchillas are soft-furred rodents with strong hind legs, large ears and a tail which makes up about one third of their body length. Why not view our full Chinchilla factfile (PDF 40KB).
Chinchillas are athletic
- Chinchillas have long hind limbs which are adapted for leaping. They can jump over six feet in height, and pet chinchillas have been reported to jump onto the top of refrigerators!
Chinchillas are highly social
- Chinchillas are highly social and in the wild live in colonies of more than 100 individuals.
Chinchillas need a high fibre diet
- Chinchillas’ teeth grow constantly. They need to eat lots of hay, which is abrasive, to help wear their teeth down.
Chinchillas have an unusual digestive system
- Food is passed through the gut and special droppings, called caecotrophs, are produced. Chinchillas eat these caecotrophs, allowing the food to be reingested.
Chinchillas sleep in the daytime
- Chinchillas are most active in the evening and at night.