Vet on The Set: Care of a Pet Chinchilla

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Chinchillas are great for condos and apartments since they don't require much space, are quiet, playful, smart, inquisitive and entertaining to watch.  They are fragile and may not be a pet choice for small children.  They live up to 20 years, so they can be a long term pet.  They have a thick and soft coat, which makes them fun to hold.  They are social animals and it is good to have two chinchillas.  Chinchillas are nocturnal and some may be up at night and active.

They originate from Peru and Chile and live in burrows and crevices.  That is why it is good to have tunnels and boxes in their cages so that they can hide at times.  They are not that common as pets, but we do see a few.  Chinchillas are legal in Hawaii, but hamsters, gerbils and ferrets are illegal.

As for a chinchilla home, you need to have a chew proof cage.  They have strong teeth and need to chew on wood to wear their teeth down normally.  The cage should have a solid floor and you need to have a bed and hiding areas for them.  They can handle cold a lot better than heat.  A large exercise solid floor wheel is great for them.  Shredded paper for bedding material is good.  Chew proof toys are good to keep them engaged.  A dust bath is essential for chinchillas.  Chinchillas are clean animals and do not like to be in a soiled area.

Most owners tend to feed their chinchillas too many treats.  The main diet should be timothy hay.  This is a coarse hay and it helps in wearing down of the teeth.  Hay rack will keep it from getting soiled.  Nuts, fruit seeds are common treats.  There are common pelleted food for chinchillas, but feeding hay is the best.  A clean water bottle is also needed.

Dietary problems are common in chinchillas.  Owners not feeding enough roughage can cause gastrointestinal problems like bloat and constipation and these can be fatal.

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