In general, chinchillas are sociable pets & independent at the same time. They can learn to enjoy being petted by familiar people. Chinchillas usually don’t appreciate being handled. They don’t tend to bite, but I still do not recommend them for young children since they are quite hyperactive and they won’t stay still. They have an incessant need to gnaw, so they require lots of toys to chew on. They are messy pets as they tend to scatter food & poop outside their cage.
1) Life Span
In captivity chinchillas can live between 15-20 years.
2) Country Of Origin
Chinchillas come from northern Chile, South America.
The chinchilla’s original colour is grey, it can variate from light to dark grey. In captivity, there are different colour mutations such as white mosaic, black velvet, beige, brown velvet, violet, and many more.
4) Sleeping Habits
Chinchillas are crepuscular & nocturnal, they get quite active during the hours of dusk, night & dawn. It might not be a good idea to place their cage in someones sleeping area, as they are also known to be noisy from jumping around, using their wheel or vocalizing to express their emotions & needs.
Chinchillas live in colonies, so pairing them with a companion (of the same sex if babies are undesired) is best. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to match chinchillas that have reached maturity, as one may not accept the other. For optimal results, this step should preferably be done when they are still young. Most of the time, chinchillas & degus can cohabitate pretty well. When a new pet is integrated, either it’s a chinchilla or a degu, it is important to observe them for a while for any signs of violence: fighting, blood or fur being pulled out by another.
Chinchillas have a gestation period of 111 days. They have a litter size of 1-4 pups, rarely more. The babies are born with fur and opened eyes. The pups should not be separated from their mother until they are at least 8 weeks old. They are considered mature at the age of 4-6 months old. They start eating quickly, but they still need their mother’s milk to survive. When the father is kept in the same cage, he will usually give a helping hand, especially when it’s time to keep the babies warm. The inconvenience is that he will probably impregnate the female again, which might cause her unnecessary stress.
Both male & female chinchillas have cones as genitals, which is why people often mistake females for males. Females have a uterine cone, and males have a penile cone. The difference that separates both sexes is that males have a gap between the penile cone and the anus (if the male is old enough you might even see the testicles), as for females their is practically no gap whatsoever. Also, if the female’s cone is gently pushed towards the opposite side of the anus their should be a barely visible hole.
8) Dust Baths
Never bathe chinchillas in water. They hate being soaked and they might get sick. They need regular dust baths. The specific dust needed for this purpose is finely ground pumice, a volcanic rock that is found in South America, which is easily purchased in pet stores.
They will roll in it to clean their fur & remove any excess oil. The dust bath should be given once a week for about half an hour, after that time frame it just turns into a litter box. The dust can be reused if it is not soiled. To avoid spreading dust everywhere, I suggest putting the pumice in a closed, big enough container with a wide entry.
Due to an irregular insulin structure, chinchillas are prone to suffer from diabetes. It is crucial to closely monitor their diet & avoid sugar as much as possible.