Chinchillas are clean, quiet and attractive rodents that don't smell. They can live for 10-20 years, and they've been bred and farmed for their soft, dense fur. They're quite shy and are more appropriate as pets for adults and older children.
Chinchillas are soft-furred rodents with strong hind legs, large ears and a tail that makes up about a third of their body length. Here are some more facts about chinchillas:
Chinchillas are athletic
They have long hind limbs 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
In the wild, they live in colonies of over 100 chinchillas.
Chinchillas need a high-fibre diet
Their teeth grow constantly, so 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 their gut and special droppings (called caecotrophs) are produced. Chinchillas eat these droppings, so they absorb and digest them again.
Chinchillas sleep in the daytime
Chinchillas are nocturnal, meaning they're most active in the evening and at night.
Find out more about chinchillas in our full chinchilla fact file.
Understanding your chinchilla's needs
Chinchillas have only been kept as pets since relatively recently, and experts are still learning about how best to care for them. There's no single 'perfect' way to care for chinchillas, as long as you meet their needs.
Adopt a chinchilla from the RSPCA
If you'd like to welcome chinchillas to your home, why not find chinchillas for rehoming from the RSPCA?
Keeping pet chinchillas can be challenging, so here's a handy checklist of what your pet chinchilla needs to stay healthy and happy.
Creating a good home for chinchillas
Originating from mountainous areas in South America, chinchillas are used to cool, cold and dry climates and have soft, dense fur to keep them warm.