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Appropriate company for chinchillas

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Ensure your chinchilla has appropriate company

 

Two chinchillas exploring their home © Virginie Soucaze / Fotolia

Chinchillas need:

  • Keeping with at least one other friendly chinchilla, unless advised otherwise by a vet/clinical animal behaviourist. Chinchillas can be kept as male/female pairs* or single sex groups. They’re naturally sociable, living in groups in the wild.
    - *Don’t keep chinchillas with the opposite sex unless intending to breed and provisions made for parents and offspring, or if one/both animals have been neutered. Male chinchillas can be neutered; it isn’t common to neuter females.
     
  • Hiding places to escape from companions or if they feel afraid. With multiple chinchillas, ensure there’re enough nest boxes and hiding places for at least one each. Provide at least one box large enough for all to rest together. Chinchillas can be aggressive especially when first introduced/during breeding. Chinchillas can be bullied and may suffer if they cannot escape from others.
     
  • Handling daily from an early age. If your chinchilla is kept alone you must provide companionship by interacting with them daily. Chinchillas well handled by people from a young age can see humans as friends/companions. They will come for petting but even friendly chinchillas tend to resist being held and will struggle. Chinchillas receiving little handling when young/rough handling anytime, may find human contact distressing. This can show as fearfulness/escape behaviour/fur loss/aggression. 
     
  • Interacting with by letting them approach you for petting/small food treat (see Diet). If you have to pick them up, do so gently but firmly to avoid damaging them/their fur, if they struggle.
     
  • Enough resources (e.g. food/water/nest boxes/hiding places) for all individuals at all times.
     
  • Introducing to new chinchillas gradually with supervision. House new chinchillas near each other for at least a week before introducing them. Seek advice from a clinical animal behaviourist if you’re unsure/have problems. Chinchillas can develop abnormal behaviour and may suffer if left without company/nothing to do for long periods.
     
  • Constant supervision when they’re with another animal/person that may deliberately or accidently harm/frighten them. Never let chinchillas out of their housing with a dog/cat/ferret/large bird present. Chinchillas see them as predators/threats, becoming stressed around them.