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A suitable environment for chinchillas

Environment logo © RSPCA publications and brand 2010

Ensure your chinchilla has a suitable place to live

 

 Chinchilla sleeping © Burgess Pet Care 2010 Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 

Chinchillas need:

  • The size/temperature of anywhere they’re left (including vehicles) to be appropriate. Keep chinchillas indoors in well-ventilated/dry/draught-free housing, ideally 10-18ºC. Hot/wet/humid/draughty/dirty conditions may cause suffering/illness.
    - Originating from mountainous areas in South America they’re used to cool/cold/dry climates having soft dense fur keeping them warm.
     
  • Large/secure living environments e.g. secure room /large metal mesh cage. With mesh floors include alternative flooring e.g. solid wood. Chinchillas can damage their feet when spending long periods standing on wire mesh.
     
  • Plenty of horizontal/vertical space to run/jump. Provide branches/solid platforms at different levels to rest/jump on. Avoid uninterrupted heights greater than 60cm to avoid potential injuries. Chinchillas are very active/agile, needing lots of exercise space.
     
  • Housing in quiet/calm areas away from dogs/cats/ferrets/other pets. They’re a prey species, needing to hide in secure places, away from sights/smells of predators. Chinchillas prefer routine; they’re quite shy and easily stressed if their home is near noise/activity
     
  • Wooden/rope/cardboard/pumice toys to chew. Avoid plastic toys. Chinchillas like gnawing/chewing. If bored they may suffer.
     
  • A shallow tray filled with clean fine sand/'chinchilla dust' daily to bathe in, keeping their fur in good condition. Remove/sieve clean after use to prevent getting soiled. 
     
  • Constant access to hay-filled nest boxes to rest/sleep. Provide hiding places to avoid companions/escape if feeling afraid.
     
  • Their cage cleaned regularly so urine/droppings don’t accumulate. Many chinchilla cages have trays underneath a mesh floor to collect waste.
     
  • A safe/secure/hazard-free environment. If they run freely around your house ensure they’re always supervised to prevent them harming themselves (e.g. chewing electrical cables). Chinchillas are inquisitive, exploring using their mouths. Any hazards within their environment may injure them.
     
  • Enough bedding to keep warm. Bedding should be safe if eaten, e.g. good quality, dust-free hay. They’re more active in the evenings/at night, sleeping for long periods during the day. Don't give chinchillas nesting materials that separate into thin strands, e.g. cotton wool or similar 'fluffy' bedding products. They pose a serious risk to their health and welfare, due to the possibility of entanglement or ingestion.
     
  • Caring for by a responsible person when you’re away to meet all their welfare needs within their familiar home.
     
  • To be comfortable/safe when transported. Putting familiar smelling items/companion(s) in carriers/new environments can help them feel at ease.