Keeping Chinchillas As Pets

The chinchilla is a South American rodent, which has a long tail and rather large ears. Its soft, fluffy body and spirited personality make it a favorite pet choice for young and old alike. Because of their popularity, more people are choosing to purchase or adopt chinchillas as their family pet, but there are some things a family needs to know in order to keep their pet chinchilla healthy and happy.

Choosing A Healthy Chinchilla For Your Family

People are usually immediately drawn to how furry and adorable chinchillas are. These tiny creatures are cute, and it's hard to decide which one is the best one to befriend as a pet.

In order to select a healthy chinchilla there are signs to watch for. For example, the chinchilla should be alert with clear eyes. His ears should be clear of sores, excessive wax or redness, because this could spell infection. Any infection in a small rodent is potentially deadly. Check its teeth and make sure they are properly aligned, and examine its body for injuries or sores. Hold a chinchilla for a bit, and see how he reacts to human contact. They may nip, but are generally playful and friendly. Healthy chinchillas are always alert and interested in their surroundings. They will react to sudden movements in a startled way. If the chinchilla you are holding seems lethargic and out of touch, this could spell trouble.

Adopting a Chinchilla

As adorable as chinchillas are, they are not cheap. You can figure spending at least $150 for the animal, plus the expensive of food, cage and accessories. A cage should be roomy and secure and kept in a warm spot in your home. Chinchillas like staring out windows, so a window that doesn't receive direct sunlight is ideal. If you live in a particularly warm part of the country, you may need to purchase a Chin-chiller, which is a natural, flat stone that allows your pet to stretch and cool. Another essential for pet chinchillas is a dust bath, which will keep your little darling clean and shiny. Another must essential is a water bottle to keep your pet properly hydrated.

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A nocturnal creature, chinchillas mostly sleep during the day and play at night; although, they can be trained to stay awake during the day. If your chinchilla does not take to daytime training, you may have to be content to make sure there is food available during the day should he wake and be hungry, and wait for nighttime playtime. Those chinchillas that won't train to stay awake during daytime hours will live on this schedule for years. Chinchillas are known to live 15 years or longer.

You might consider purchasing two chinchillas to keep each other company. Chinchillas need companionship, and what better companion than a chinchilla brother or sister. If you feel that you can only handle one chinchilla pet,
make sure to give it lots of love. Chinchillas need friends and holding one allows them to become attached to your smell and voice. They also love apples and carrots as treats and should be fed a special diets of chinchilla pellets.

Should you notice anything strange in the way your chinchilla looks or behaves, this is a warning sign that something is wrong. If your chinchilla stops eating, makes strange noises, can't stand, is bleeding or any other pertinent warning sign, take it to a vet immediately. Like most rodents, a chinchilla can go from sick to critically ill in no time at all, so it is important to seek immediate medical attention if you feel something is wrong.

John Bandey, Faver Designs 2008