Housing Recommendations

  • Cages:
    • 2x4ft footprint minimum.
    • Wire mesh cages may be used, but we recommend a solid floor to prevent foot pad injuries.
    • For exercise one should supply branches or climbing areas. Arrange in a way to prevent contamination of food and water bowls with feces.
    • Avoid the use of aquariums or plastic containers due to poor ventilation.
    • Wooden cages are not recommended due to the chewing habits of Chinchilla.
    • Paper based bedding such as Care Fresh is recommended as a floor substrate.
  • Bathing:
    •  Dust baths should be provided several times a week to remove oil and dirt from the fur.
    • Only leave the dust bath in the cage for 15 minutes due to potential eye irritation from excessive use.
  • Group Housing:
    •  Chinchillas may fight when housed together so solitary caging is recommended.
  • Temperature:
    • Temperature should be kept between 60-75F.
    • Area should be kept dry, well lit with adequate ventilation. Avoid excessive heat & humidity.

 

Dietary Recommendations

  • Main Diet:
    • Feed a commercially available chinchilla diet. We recommend Oxbow products.
    • Timothy hay should be offered as a source of dietary fiber. The hay should be free fed as 75% of the main part of the diet.
    • Do not feed alfalfa hay due to its high calcium content which could led to urinary tract problems.
  • Treats:
    • Fresh carrots, green vegetables, and raisins may be given in moderation.
    • Dried fruits and fresh vegetables are excellent treats.
    • Treats should comprise no more than 10 % of the diet
  • Water:
    • you can use sipper bottles or bowls. Water must be changed daily.

Handling

  • Chinchillas are easy to handle and rarely bite.
    • During restraint, the base of the tail should be grasped with one hand while supporting the body with the other hand.
    • Avoid ‘fur slip’ while handling which is the patchy shedding of fur as the result of rough handling or tension.

Common medical conditions

  • Dental problems: Several signs may alert you to dental problems.
    • You may see a condition known as “slobbers”. This is characterized by excessive drooling or accumulation of food material under the chin.
    • A decrease in size and amount of feces
    • The cause is overgrowth of continuously growing cheek teeth. This condition will require regular molar trims under general anesthesia. Encouraging the consumption of hay may help but most cases are hereditary.
  • Overheating:
    • Chinchillas in high humidity and poor ventilation have unkempt, damp fur.
    • Signs of heat stroke include extreme lethargy, panting and bright red mucous membranes.
    • If these signs are seen, veterinary attention should be sought immediately.
  • Fur Chewing:
    • This can be caused by boredom, dietary imbalance or hereditary factors.
    • Chew toys and environment enrichment along with a proper diet may aid in decreasing this behavior.
  • Fur Ring: This is seen in male chinchillas and can be life threatening. Any male chinchilla that exhibits the following should be seen:
    • grooms excessively
    • strains to urinate
    • frequently producing small amounts of urine
  • Diarrhea:

The most common cause of diarrhea in pet chinchillas is inappropriate diet.

  • Overconsumption of treats and fresh green foods
  • absence of high quality hay in the diet
  • Bacterial and parasitic infections may also cause diarrhea. Giardia, a common intestinal parasite, may be brought out by stress, overcrowding and poor husbandry.

 

  • Respiratory Disease: Upper respiratory infections are common.
    • increased respiratory rate
    • accumulation of mucous on nostrils and inside of forearms.