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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-08-2010, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Question Tips/Advice for a soon-to-be chinchilla owner?

Hi! I'm thinking about getting a chinchilla from a nearby breeder (with my parents consent) and am wondering about what to expect and/or a few things to buy for the new chin? I've already researched from several places, but it's nice to have even more input from experienced owners.



I live with my parents (as I'm a minor), 3 ferrets, a guinea pig, and a dog. The dog would never be in the same room as the chinchilla (he barks quite a bit when excited), and neither would the ferrets.



Thank-you in advance for any tips/advice that I get.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-08-2010, 09:13 PM
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I am copying this straight from my website. A basic over view

Properly treated chinchillas can live 15 to 20 years. Mistreated and improperly care for chinchillas will have a short life. Chinchillas thrive on love, quiet, food adapted to their needs, good water, fresh air, moderate temperatures and light


Is a chinchilla the right pet for you?
chinchillasare cute, odorless, playful and low maintenance, but they are not usually cuddly and would rather run around and play than be held. Some other things to think about are

* Can you afford to buy and maintain a chinchilla
*Is there a good breeder nearby?
* What color and sex would you want?
*Are there vets in your area that treat chinchillas?
* Do you have pets that could hurt chinchillas? If so are you sure you will be able to keep them separated at all times?



Breeders are the best to buy from, this way you can know the genetic history of the chinchilla, as well as have someone who you can contact when you have questions. A chinchilla bought from a good reputable breeder is almost always a great pet, they have been handled from birth and are usually healthy and well adjusted. Also breeders are more likely to have mutation colors.

It is always a good idea to see a chinchilla in person before buying it

- The nose of the chinchilla should be dry not runny

- The eyes should be bright and free from discharge

- Teeth should be yellow and meet in a straight line

- The area beneath the tail should not be wet or stained

- Animals should be curious when you stick you hand in the cage
A very important factor too keep in mind is heat. Temperature is vital to a chinchillas survival. Chinchillas can tolerate very cold temperatures, even freezing temperatures, but they cannot tolerate heat. If the temperature rises above 80 degrees then the chinchilla can overheat and die. During the hot months a chinchilla must be kept in an air conditioned environment or a cool area like the basement.

Handling your Chinchilla
chinchillas are easily hand tamed. Although chinchillas do need to be handled with care you should not be afraid to handle your chinchilla. If you need to pick up your chinchilla suddenly, do so by grasping the base of their tail. You should never squeeze a chinchilla around the ribs. Chinchillas dislike being petted like a cat or dog. However, They do enjoy being rubbed or scratched around their ears, chin, chest, and face. If they don’t like what you’re doing, they’ll push you away or bark at you. Before attempting to hold your chinchilla give them a chance to get to know you, and don't forget to ask your breeder to demonstrate the best ways to hold a chinchilla

Before Bringing your new chinchilla home
You will need a cage which must be large enough for a few shelves and have room for the chinchilla to run and jump. The bigger the better, but it should not be any smaller than 2'X2'X2' per chinchilla. The cage can be built or bought but it is best to avoid plastic as a chinchilla will chew through plastic quickly.
Do not use fish tanks as they do not have enough air circulation and are too small. Safe materials to use are wood, metal, stainless steel and wire. Wire should be no larger that 1"X1" for the sides and 1/2" X 1/2" for the bottom. It is best to use pine or aspen shavings in the bottom. DO NOT USE CEDAR. Cedar has fumes that are toxic to small animals. Chinchilla cages should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week.

You can buy a hidey house for your chinchilla. It can be made of wood, cardboard or fleece. Keep in mind anything that is placed in the cage may be chewed on and will need to be replaced periodically.

Salt blocks are not necessary and too much salt in a chinchilla's diet will cause seizures.

Dust baths are used to get the oils out of the fur. Too many can cause dry itchy skin. They should be given 2-3 times a week for 15 minutes during dry weather. During the Humid times of the year you may want to increase the number of baths your chinchilla receives.
To give a dust bath you will need a container. There are containers made for this at most pet stores, but anything that is large enough for a chinchilla to roll around in and easy to clean will work. Other items frequently used are large fish bowls, ceramic bowls, and large pickle jars.

Feed dishes and water bottles should be dishwasher safe. Glass water bottles are great because the chinchillas cannot chew through them. Feed dishes should be sturdy, large enough to hold the days food and easy to clean, avoid plastic. It is best for food dishes to have a broad base and low center of gravity so they cannot be dumped out by the chinchilla. Ceramic bowls work great.

Toys are necessary to wear down their constantly growing teeth. Suitable toys include apple branches (pesticide free), pumice stones, cardboard, hanging bird toys and wood replacement blocks. Avoid toys with plastic, rope or nuts.

A good wheel is a great investment, but do not waste your money on a plastic one.

You will also need a small pet carrier to bring your new pet home in and for vet visits. Smaller is better, put shavings in the bottom and a handful of hay or some hay cubes. A water bottle is not needed for short trips. Watch the animal so it does not over heat. A chinchilla cools itself using the veins in his ears as he cannot sweat. If your chinchillas ears are bloodshot he may be too warm. This is easier to see in the lighter colored animals.

It is best to set the cage up in a quiet area out of direct sunlight and out of drafts. Give the chinchillas a day or two to adjust but continue your normal daily schedule. Make sure he has fresh food and water daily.




Feeding your chinchilla

Feed the best quality food you can buy you will find often the better foods are cheaper online than the poor quality foods from the pet store. Always have fresh wholesome food, fresh water and hay available. Do not buy food with treats in it, plain pellets are best and too many treats can easily kill your chinchilla. Chinchilla cannot have fresh fruits and vegetables. Nutrition is the key to growth, if given a well balanced diet a chinchilla is a hardy animal.

Hay is the most important part of a chinchilla diet it's function is to form the roughage in the chinchillas diet. Baled alfalfa or timothy is best, hay cubes will also work but loose hay is better.

Supplements are useless unless they contain vitamins and nutrients. They are a great way to check the health of a chinchilla. If your chinchilla does not "come running " when given the supplement something may be wrong. A great supplement is Lifeline from http://www.chocolatechinchillas.com/ another great supplement can be bought from Ryerson Chinchillas.

Pellets should be free fed, chinchillas will not overeat. On average chinchillas eat two tablespoons of food daily. With pellets avoid millet (the dust found in the bottom of bags). Food loses nutrients over time, be sure the feed was milled within 90 days of purchase. Avoid feed from open bins or in clear plastic bags as sunlight can also cause the loss of nutritional value.
Good feeds include Mazuri, Tradition, Oxbow, Manna show pro (rabbit) and Nuetrena Rabbit feed. Most of these can be purchased online or picked up at a local farm supply or feed store. If you are switching brands from what the breeder feeds, do so slowly adding a little more of the new feed in with the old feed over a week.

Fresh clean water is critical. Water makes up 50-70% of a chinchillas body weight. A chinchilla can lose all of its body fat and 1/2 of its protein and still carry on but the loss of 1/10th of it's water can be fatal. Chinchillas drink 1-2 ounces of water daily.

Once Home

Put your new chinchilla in his cage, be sure he has plenty of feed and fresh water then leave him be for the rest of the day to explore his new home. You will want to show off the new pet but it is best to wait a few days and let him adjust to the family. Don't rush the chinchilla, speak softly and treat him gently
Things to Keep in Mind

- your dog will decide your chinchilla is a toy, keep them apart.

-chinchillas chew on everything, baseboards, furniture, wires. They are rodents. Best place for playtime is a chinchilla proofed bathroom, with your supervision at all times.

- chinchillas can and will jump far distances usually landing softly, but keep in mind they have small leg bones that can break easily.

- Chinchillas are smart and can distinguish owners from strangers. It can take 2-3 weeks for a chinchilla to adjust to its new home.

- All animals have the ability to bite. If they do, do not hurt the chinchilla. The best way to stop the behavior is to blow short and quick in their face.

- Biting should not be confused with grooming or the "testing" of young animals. They like young children put things in their mouth to test, and grooming will be a soft nibble. If they bite you'll know it.

-chinchillas CANNOT be housebroken.


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-08-2010, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your help. I've read that page on your website, and I must say that it helped me decide that I do want a chinchilla.

I would be looking for a male that's under $160 (color really doesn't matter) and near North East, PA. My family and I will be slowly getting things together in preparation for a spring chinchilla.

The place that I have scoped out is a little more than an hour's drive from my town and the pictures of their kits for sale and in the nursery look quite healthy, but my parents and I would be checking the place out to make sure that they truly are in good health.

My father said that the cage that I want for the chinchilla (36" W x 30" D x 60" H) may be a little over the top, but most people say that more room is better. Would a smaller cage be better for a single chinchilla?
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-08-2010, 10:15 PM
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no the bigger the better


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 04:34 AM
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Our breeder told us that a big cage can be scary the first few days home. Mine splits in half in the middle and i put my chin in the top half for the first week until she settled in. They like higher places...it's comforting to them.
If this hasnt been said already soft music being played is a good idea. also don't whisper around them. talk at a normal voice so they are used to your talk...same with cleaning. after the first week make sure to start the vacuum cleaner outside the room you are going to vacuum then start in on the room. if she hears it when you are starting it from a distance, there from the beginning it won't bother her after time.
Treats seem fun to buy at the stores but make sure not to give too many because it can cause them to get fatty liver disease and cause short life. we use cheerios, rice and wheat chex, rice crispies(my chins favorite), rose hips, dandelion drops(at most pet stores) and apple slices. normally i give her 4-5 rice crispies or a cheerio then later in the day either a dandelion drop or a piece of apple(which is dried out with no artificial preservatives or sugar). this is not too much for them.
One last piece of advise i could tell you about is how to hold her. my chinchilla gets picked up only when she wants to. I use both hands and go in on either side of her and let her rest her paws on me. It is bad to hold a chin around it's ribs because they have floating ribs like mice. This means they will crush her insides just by holding/squeezing her the wrong way.
You can never have enough information for chins. They are brilliant little animals and it takes a lot of knowledge to figure out how they function and what they need. Definitely worth your time 8)


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Last edited by ownerofthemoon; 10-17-2010 at 04:40 AM.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 10:52 PM
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i have three chins two girls and a boy -not in the same cage as i dont want little chins ;p

BUT bigger is better as the love to run and REALLY REALLY love to jump around when we got the first chin REMI we had a smaller cage and well she really wasnt happy got the bigger cage and put in jumping blocks and now shes happy as a claim .....becaful though lol cuz u will want to spoil them and they will love you they love treats , and the are VERY VERY smart and they will get to know you and come to the cage for a petting and to be held but they really do chew on everything good luck
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-21-2010, 01:38 PM
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Question

Since you already have several pets I have to ask..... are you ready for a pet that will poop poop poop where ever it wants - popping constantly when it is out jumping around getting its daily exercise while exploring you and the house?

R h a p s o d y -
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-21-2010, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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Well, we (my family and I) did say that we wanted to vacuum more, so getting a chinchilla wouldn't be so bad -- it would actually help! I don't mind getting pooped on, but as long as it's pellets.
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