Photo: dd_doubleclick (Flickr)

Photo by dd_doubleclick (Flickr)

Chinchillas are wonderful pets to have because of their lovely personalities and of course, their thick smooth fur. These little rodents are very playful and active, making them amiable to their owners. Apart from being pets, very little information is known about these animals. Get to know some of the interesting things about them by reading on these chinchillas facts.

Chinchilla Beginnings

Chinchillas are small animals that come from the Andes Mountains in Latin America. The name translates to “Little Chincha” named after the local people who hail from the mountain region of Andes. It should be noted that there are two different Chinchilla varieties; one is known as “Chinchilla Chinchilla” which is a short tailed variation of this mammal, and the other type is known as “Chinchilla Lanigera” which is a long tailedanimal. The two species have similar features, the short tailed type features wider shoulders, a fuller neck and as the name suggests, has a small tail.

Natural Environment of Chinchilla


Andes Mountains – Panoramic View. Photo by Paolo Costa Baldi. License: GFDL/CC-BY-SA 3.0

In the wilderness, chinchillas are known to live together in herds. They are generally found in burrows and stone cracks. For a small and not ferocious rodent, it has to stay away from a wide selection of potential predators such as dogs, snakes, birds of prey, skunks and many more. In case it is attacked, it protects itself from bigger animals by spraying urine, and releasing tufts of fur.

It should also be noted that wild chinchillas dine on fruits, plants, seeds and good sized insects.

They can choose to breed during any period of the year. Their pregnancy period lasts an impressive one hundred and ten days. It is longer than most other rodents. Due to the longer pregnancy, they are born with open eyes, and a body that has abundant fur.

Life Expectancy and Features

Chinchillas have a life expectancy of between ten to twenty years. The oldest specimen is believed to last between twenty seven and twenty nine years. They are blessed with an amazing ability to jump. They have been witnessed to jump over 6ft high. Their fur is very soft and the chinchilla is unable to sweat. It has to maintain a temperature of below 80 degrees, otherwise it may get overheated. It has to direct its warmth to its big ears through the circulation. They are also nocturnal rodents, this means that they are awake at nighttime and sleep throughout the day.

Chinchilla - photo by Daniel Hall

Photo by Daniel Hall (

They are very sensitive to noise and stress and that is why it is very important to avoid quick movements, especially when approaching them. Their traits almost stay the same and rarely change. For instance, if your chinchilla is naturally shy, he will remain shy for the rest of his life. These rodents need to gnaw so as to keep their teeth from getting too long. Throw in some chewing toys so as to save on water container and food dishes from being chewed.

They are also known for making sounds to express emotions. They squeak, squeal, and grant in accordance to these emotions. If everything is okay, they usually stay silent.

Weight and Puberty

The usual weight of an adult chin is about 400 to 500 grams for males, while females range from 400 to 600 grams. The puberty of these animals is also another interesting fact. It begins early as their 3rd month after birth. This stage lasts for about six to ten months. Infant chins are called kits. Instead of bathing in water, they bath in dust. In their natural environment, their bath in volcanic ash. They love to play while bathing, flipping, rolling, and digging.

They are weaned for six to eight weeks, after which they can begin mating. In a year, the normal chin will breed two times. These animals come in different colors ranging from white, beige, gray, ebony, sapphire, and violets. About 100 hairs grow in their follicle, which results to the immense thickness of their fur. Their fur is thick to the point that it is immune against fleas. Their teeth also do not stop growing, which explains why they chomp on wood since it wears down the growth of their teeth.

Chinchillas make for excellent pets. You will simply love their fur, and they are affectionate enough to let you pet them. They are also easy to care for, but you also need some to time investment so that you can give them the best care possible.

Chinchillas make inquisitive and fascinating pets, especially for young adults. In order for your companion to have the best quality of life, they need a range of chinchilla accessories to improve their living environment. Here we take a look at some useful items that you could add to your pet’s cage.

Wood Chew Toys


Photo: dd_doubleclick

Chinchillas have an in-built need to gnaw and chew because their teeth continue to grow throughout their lifetime. Failure to provide them with enough opportunity to file their teeth results in a range of dental problems. Chewing on their cage is not enough to satisfy their need to bite something. The wood is not hard enough to file the teeth. Therefore, quality accessories need to be added to your pet’s living environment in order for them to have opportunities to exercise their natural chewing requirements. Wooden branches are ideal for this purpose however please note the following:

  1. Secure all branches safely to the cage by wedging into the wire mesh.
  2. Ensure that all branches are safe to chew and have not been treated with harmful chemicals.
  3. Willow, hazelnut, apple and pear tree branches are the best.
  4. Never give your pet pine tree bark as it can cause respiratory difficulties.


Several varieties of tubing can be used in your chinchilla’s cage to increase stimuli, give further chewing opportunities and allow for fun playtimes.

  1. Cardboard tubes such as kitchen or toilet roll centers are fun for your chinchilla to crawl through. Ensure it does not have ink printed on it or a glossy surface.
  2. Plastic tubes available from pet stores can be often attached together to make long tunnels that chinchillas love to explore.
  3. Ensure all tubes are wide enough for your pet to fit through easily to prevent their becoming stuck and injured.
  4. Tubing is excellent for encouraging natural burrowing.
Baby Chinchilla

Baby Chinchilla. Photo: Carlos Gracia


Chinchillas in the wild would have rocks, stones and pebbles in their natural environment. Here are some tips on how to mimic their settings. As stones are hard, they are excellent to chew. Full of calcium and excellent for both your chinchilla’s teeth and general health, they can be bought at your pet store and placed in your pet’s cage.

  1. Add stones inside your pet’s cage regularly to encourage curiosity.
  2. Rocks encourage chewing of hard substances to file teeth effectively.
  3. Remember to sterilize all rocks, pebbles and stones before giving them to your pet.


There are several things you can use to encourage your pet’s natural instinct to burrow and hide. Some are available from your pet store and others you can improvise yourself.

  1. Cardboard boxes are a ready source of fun for your pet. As long as there is no ink on the sides you can let your pet chew these and if you cut a hole in them, your pet will enjoy hiding inside.
  2. Wooden shelters made from small branches fixed together with flexible wire are great for forming hideaways, arches and slope shapes to keep your pet entertained for hours.

ChinchillaSometimes it is difficult to determine the kind of pet you want. Many people keep different types of pets in their homes. The attraction of baby chinchilla is hard to resist but the other family members might thing that a dog, cat or guinea pig is more suitable for your lifestyle. So, the question is – can chinchilla live together with other animal species?

Chinchilla and Other Animals: Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats are some of the most popular pets in the world. But recently, the chinchilla has become a beloved of many owners. Rodent pets and domestic dog can live together depending on the dog`s breed. As a chinchilla pet parents, we did not try to keep a dog and our tiny pet in our home for a long time. However, twice it incidentally happened that a Labrador retriever was accompanied friends who were visiting

Chinchillas and dogs have not only different sizes but also differing types of temperament. Knowing that, we did not even try to meet them. We worried that the presence of such as big a dog may stress and frighten our small pet. We replaced the chinchilla cage in a quiet room far from the living room where our friends and their dog were sitting. As a whole, it is better to keep them separated in different areas of the home to avoid the risk.

We were really afraid that the dog was a predator animal no matter how friendly it looked like. Maybe if it was trained to get along with small animals, it would not harm the chinchilla at all. Anyway, we were not convinced that predator animals and prey animals can play together.

From everything we’ve read, we have learned that it is better never to leave the two different animals together unattended. It is a good idea to keep an eye on them not only during the introduction but any time they are together.

What about the fact that the rodents can play together? Some chinchilla owners report that they let their chinchillas play with other animals but mostly other rodents or kittens. Some pet parents report that it is possible for a chinchilla and guinea pig to live in the same cage together. They have different diet plans and different grooming routine. For example, a chinchilla does not eat the food which is recommended for guinea pig. The chinchilla needs a dust bath at least twice a week while the guinea pig has a classic bath only once monthly.

Chinchillas and Guinea Pig

Although chinchillas and guinea pig are rodents, they have different care demands. That is why we thing that it essential for them to live separately. If you want to introduce them to each other you can place their cages close so they can get used to each other. This should be done also if chinchillas share living space with gerbils, rats, rabbits or hamsters since housing them together can be unsafe.

Sometimes, this cute fur ball does not even get along with fellows of the same species. Experienced pet owners claim that it is better for chinchillas to live by themselves, in their own personal house. When they live with a companion, they can be aggressive. Anyway, if they have been together with another chinchilla since their early days, it is more likely for chinchillas to co-exist with other individuals.