How to Care for a Chinchilla

A chinchilla might look like a cross between a rat and a rabbit, but it has specific needs separate from those two species. Chinchillas are called crepuscular rodents that live in burrows and crevices when they’re in the wild. What makes them so great as pets is that they can live for 20 years, but they are sensitive and fragile, not ideal for a family with small children.

Feeding a Chinchilla

The primary source of food for a pet chinchilla are the chinchilla pellets, which can be bought at pet shops in Singapore. You need to supplement their diet, however, with Timothy hay to provide them with fiber for digestion, and to help them grind their growing teeth.

Dried vegetables and fruits can be fed in small quantities, but remember not to feed your pet with food high in fat and sugar. New food should be introduced gradually for at least 10 days before replacing an old diet. Food and water should be placed in clean feeding bowls that will not easily tip over.

Avoid feeding them with rabbit mix, because they’re not rabbits. Other food to avoid are sunflower seeds, iceberg lettuce, and peanuts. Avoid giving them too many treats that can cause diarrhea or fatty liver. Instead, feed them only with food recommended for chinchillas, such alfalfa, prairie grass, leafy greens, and orchard grass.

Housing for a Chinchilla

Ideally, a cage for a pair of chinchillas should not be less than 1 m x 1.5 m and must have a plastic bottom. Inside the cage, you should provide your pets with shelves and small boxes to encourage them to exercise and an enclosed space for sleeping, while the floor should be padded with shredded paper or dust-extracted bedding, but avoid cedar shavings.

Place their housing in areas where they are safe from other animals, traffic, and other elements. Chinchillas are prone to heat stroke, so you should never place their cage outside your apartment in Singapore. It’s also important to clean your pet’s housing everyday to remove uneaten food and other debris. Chewed wood and boxes should also be removed and replaced occasionally.

Exercise and Socialization

Chinchillas are social animals that will get lonely if they are alone, that is why you will be advised to get a pair instead of just one. If you don’t want to have a breeding pair, however, getting chinchillas of the same sex is still okay.

Chinchillas are gentle creatures, but young children should be supervised when handling these pets. They are considered skittish and are wary of strangers, so it might take some time for them to get used to other people.

Common Diseases

Watch out for common issues such as dental problems and constipation. With the right diet, however, these can be prevented easily. That is why hay is important not just in providing fiber and good gut microbes, but it’s also a way for your pet to grind its teeth.