Chinchillas are rodents native to the Andes Mountains in South America. These cute little animals have very dense and soft fur. Their fur is so coveted that they have been hunted almost to extinction in the wild. The fur trade in chinchillas is now largely relegated to Chinchilla farms. Because they are so soft, and due to their shy demeanor, chinchillas have become popular as an exotic pet. As an exotic animal, pet owners need specialized knowledge in order to properly care for them.
Chinchilla CagesWhen budgeting the cost of a chinchilla as a pet, you have to account for the cage and other additional costs associated with owning a chinchilla. A standard chinchilla cage will cost about $100. However, chinchillas need a great deal of exercise, and a simple cage may not be enough. Unless you feel comfortable with allowing your chinchilla to roam your home, with the possibility that it might spray on your furniture and carpeting, you will probably need more than just a standard cage to keep your chin happy and healthy. Multi-level chinchilla cages cost about $200+, and should include basic necessities like a water bottle, feeder, shelves, wheel, safe items to chew, and a hiding place. Chins are nocturnal animals and will need shelter to hide in during the day. They also need exercise, and an exercise wheel will cost about $75+ (we have a saucer type for sale at $49, and also the new vertical Chin Sprint). A dust bath house is also required, and they need to use it about twice a week.
Chinchilla Vet CostsRemember that you will need to transport your chinchilla to the vet when necessary. These are relatively inexpensive visits at about $40. Chins can be neutered, but this procedure can be risky as the animals can have a fatal reaction to the anesthetic. Chinchillas can live 15 to 20 years as pets, if they are well taken care of. To prevent problems with their teeth, provide your chin with proper chew toys. Do not put plastic items in the cage as they will chew these up as well and make them sick if they swallow it. Their teeth do not stop growing. Unless they can wear them down by chewing, their teeth can become overgrown and present serious problems. Provide chin sage chews like apple or willow sticks, kiln dried pine shelves or hideaways, ka-bob holders full of safe wood and pumice stone chews, and lava ledges. Chins are intelligent animals and need exercise and interaction to stay happy. Stressed or bored chinchillas can develop a host of serious health problems. To find a qualified veterinary doctor, refer to one of the several internet chinchilla clubs as they have lists of exotic veterinarians around the country who know how to care of chinchillas.
Chinchilla InformationChinchillas are nocturnal animals. As such, they each need their own place to hide during the day. They are also intelligent social creatures, who need hours of interaction every day, and prefer to live with a buddy.
In the wild, they live in colonies or herds. They do not sweat, and can become overheated very easily and have a heat stroke. The telling sign of an overheated chinchilla is bright red ears, as they dissipate heat from their body through blood vessels in their ears. They require temperatures of no more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They also do not do well in the exercise balls some people use for hamsters because there is no way for the heat to escape. Because their fur is so dense, they do not bathe in water. These animals cannot dry themselves properly when wet, and can develop fur rot. Therefore, they take dry baths instead in volcanic dust native to the Andes Mountains. Chinchillas are still farmed for their fur, and it can take 150 of these small animals to make one coat. There are several online groups dedicated to teaching people more about chinchillas.