Chinchillas are rodents that are originally from the Andes Mountains along the west coast of South America. They were once sought after only for their fur, and in fact had become quite rare due to excessive hunting. Today they are still used for their fur, but they are bred and not hunted for this purpose. Increasingly commonly however, they are being sought after as pets. Chinchillas have quite an endearing appearance – they are a little larger than squirrels, and look rather like chubby mice with short, furry tails. Although are not truly domestic animals, they do become rather attached to their owners and can be quite affectionate and vocal. Chinchillas are naturally shy and do not like being touched unless they have been accustomed to being held and petted as babies. Baby chinchilla care should therefore include a reasonable amount of gentle and regular interaction.
It is important to learn how to take care of chinchilla if you plan to get one of these furry rodents as pets. First of all, it is important to have a suitable living area for your pet chinchilla – a large bird cage with several levels is advisable if you cannot get a special chinchilla cage. Multiple chinchillas living together often tend to fight, unless they have grown up together. If you plan to keep two strange chinchillas together, you should introduce them to each other gradually. It is also important to note that these animals are crepuscular – which means that they are active at dawn and at dusk, and tend to sleep through the rest of the day. Their living area should therefore be kept quiet during the day, and of course at night too. Chinchillas are quite playful and active, and it is usually advisable to have an exercise wheel. Chew toys are also necessary, as chinchillas need to regularly wear down their teeth. A simple pumice stone or wooden stick is often adequate, but be sure to avoid plastics as well as certain citrus or resinous woods, which may be toxic to these rodents. Another essential for chinchillas is access to special dust that they can use to have dust baths.
Of course, chinchilla health care includes providing your pets with suitable food too. A chinchillas digestive system is quite sensitive, and you should therefore be very particular about what you feed it and when you feed it. Hay based pellets and loose hay should be provided daily, and foods with excessive levels of fat or protein should be strictly limited.