Origin and age
|The chinchilla originates from Chile, Peru and Bolivia. They live on heights
from 2000 meters to 6000 meters above the ocean. The animal is a rodent and have some similarities with guinea pigs, rabbits
and squirrels. The main difference from these animals is that chinchillas tend to get much older.
Chinchillas can be up to 20 years old. You should therefore carefully consider
if you really are going to get one since it will live long if you treat it right. Due to the long lifetime the chinchilla
is not fully grown until it is about two years old. Adult chinchillas weighs up to 600 g but the males are a bit lighter.
Pets for small children?
|The chinchilla is not a pet suitable for small children because it is very wilful
and only active at night. This means that they must have peace and quiet at day to get their necessary rest. However,
they often change their behaviour and get used to be awake parts of the day.
You should not be overprotecting to your animal since it can lead to the loss
of its natural resistance. The chinchilla is a robust and tough animal which is perfect if you're studying or works during
the day since they're sleeping at that time anyway.
|The chinchilla uses several sounds and noises to communicate with its surroundings.
For instance, it can hiss or use low muttering sounds or high shrieks. If you pay attention you can figure out in which situation
it uses a specific sound and also what that means.|
How many chinchillas should you have ?
|It is alright to only have one chinchilla but then it is very important that
you give it your attention every day! Otherwise you could always have two chinchillas. If you don't want to have one male
and one female you should have two females because they will get along as long as they don't have a male to fight about...
But you should always ask an expert before you bring two chinchillas together.
If you are going to introduce a new partner to your chinchilla it can take
a little time. At the beginning it is best to let them have seperate cages which are placed next to each other so they can
sniff at one another but not bite. When the new chin seames to feel at home, you can try to bring them together at neutral
ground - let them be out in a room together. But then you should always be present and ready to "jump in" if they start to
fight a lot. When you have done this a couple of times and it is working, without anyone fighting, you can try to place them
into the same cage. It is often best to take a new cage or use the one the male are living in since the female can be very
sensitive about her territory.
|You shouldn't have your chinchilla running around loose in your apartment or
house. It can get hurt and does not like it either. The chinchilla is a very lively animal and can make high jumps and impressive
leaps. At the same time it's an animal with strong habits and must therefore have a place where it can feel safe. That place
is and should always be the cage! You should keep your chinchilla indoors.
The cage should be high and large where there are big branches to climb and bite
on. The cage should also contain shelves where the chinchilla can sit and keep an eye on things. At the bottom you should
have shavings (sawdust) or catsand to absorb moisture and urine. You should also have a bathtub (a box or other small container)
with very fine sand where the chinchilla can take a bath. This particular sand you can buy at a petshop. (You also have to
clean the sand pretty often). You should clean the cage once a week.
|In the wild the chinchilla eats bark from bushes and roots, onions and dry grass
which grows in the bare mountainterrain in the Ands. As a pet they should have similar food. The branches in the cage
is therefore both a supplier with bark to the chin and also something to climb on. It is very important that you use a branch
from a tree with leaves so the chinchillas fur don't get all dirty with resin. (Branches from fruit trees or rowan/mountain
ash works just fine).
The basic ingredient in the food is fine, green hay which is served in
a crotch for instance. From there it is easy for the chinchilla to pick the parts of the hay it wants to eat. The other basic
food ingredient is pellets. You can find specific chinchilla pellets in the petstore, but it often works with pellets
for rabbits also since they have almost the same composition. But ask the staff at the store to be sure to get the right food!
You can also mix out the food with porridge oats. And on occassion, and in a small
dose, you can give the chinchilla raisins, "knäckebröd", carrot, a piece of an apple etc. Be sure to never
give it seeds from sunflowers, though. You should also avoid oranges, clover, cabbage, lettuce and grapes.
Be generally very careful with fresh vegetables and fruit since the chinchilla
has a very sensitive stomach!
Don't feed it with mixes of seeds or food made for other animals, like for rats,
rabbits, hamsters or guinea pigs! This may contain fat seeds and nuts that in the long run can damage the chinchilla's stomach
Sexuality and pregnancy
|When the chinchilla is about a half years old it can reproduce, but you should
wait until a female is at least 12 months old before you start the breeding. However, the most fertile time do not
arise until it is about 2 years old and lasts for about 4 years. The pregnancy is generally 111 days and the delivary is usually
1-4 babies. The chinbabies is fully developed when they are born and can start explore the cage only a couple of hours after
the birth. (You can read about introducing a new partner under "How many chinchillas should I have?").
When you have got babies you must baby-proof the cage since the babies
are very small and fragile. This includes that you remove high shelves (or let the new family temporarily move in to a smaller
cage) so the babies can't climb that high and fall. You should also put i a towel or something else to make the ground soft.
It is also best to have shavings/sawdust as bedding when you have babies. If you have a cage which contains of net you should
make sure that the holes aren't too large so the babies could get stuck or sneak out. You should also put in another waterbottle
on a lower height so the babies can reach it.
How to get it tame and how to carry it
|A chinchilla is not tame by birth. The process to get it tame demands a lot of
work, patience and understanding from the owner. You should never force yourself on the animal, it must self take the initiative!
(Otherwise you only get the opposite effect).
You can start with opening the door to the cage and reach in your hand, maybe
with some treat like raisins. Eventually the chinchilla will come and explore you. When it has done that, it won't be long
until it jumps up into your hand and let you carry him or her.
In the beginning, when you carry a chinchilla it can be wise to keep a steady
grip around its tail. (Never lift it like that, though). The grip is not worse than to take a cat by the scruff of the neck.
You should keep in mind to be careful if you don't hold its tail because the chin can fall and get hurt.
You must let the chinchilla get out sometimes (in a room) and run, but always
under the owners supervision. Be sure that all windows and doors are closed!
|Naturally the chinchilla is grey but as pet and exhibition animal they can have
many different colours like albino, white, silver, sapphire, champagne, light and dark brown, jet black and velvet black etc.|
Pets for allergic people?
|Even if the chinchilla is supposed to be an animal suitable for allergic people
I think that you shouldn't take any risks. But, of course, this is something that changes from individual to individual. The
chinchilla doesn't smell, like rats for instance, but you have a lot of hay and catsand in the cage that can be quite dusty...|