The Needs of Chinchillas in Pet Ownership

After reaching maturity, chinchillas can develop intraspecific aggression. Socialization should therefore take place early.

Chinchillas are not loners and need a stimulating environment. The attentive owner should take the species-specific needs of the small rodents into account. If he doesn’t do this, chinchillas can develop a variety of behavioral problems.


Porcupine relatives – guinea pig relatives – chinchilla relatives

Life expectancy

10-20 years


female 4-6 months, male 8-9 months


Chinchillas come from the western part of South America. They are active at dusk and night. In their natural habitat, the humidity is below 40%.


Chinchillas should preferably be fed with hay rich in crude fiber and possibly chinchilla pellets. In addition, a little dried green fodder, e.g. alfalfa, chamomile, peppermint, sage, fennel, and nettle. The crude fiber content should be very high (16-18%) and the protein/fat content (Rp 14-16, Rf 2-4%) very low.


The facility should have a floor area of ​​at least 2 m 2 and be designed three-dimensionally. The height of the enclosure should be at least 1.5 m. A guiding value of 3 m 3 and 0.5 m 3 for each additional animal is estimated for pairs. Fresh branches of unsprayed fruit trees (except stone fruit) and hazelnut bushes should be offered as environmental enrichment. In addition, the enclosure should have caves, a sleeping house, and a sand bath with special sand. This sand bath is essential for grooming chinchillas. If sand containing quartz is used instead of special chinchilla sand, this can lead to coat and callus damage! There are different types of suitable special sand. What they all have in common, however, is that the individual grains are strongly rounded and the moist sand can be formed into balls.

Behavioral problems

Both solitary housing and too-sparse housing conditions are unacceptable and can lead to abnormal repetitive behavior (AVR) in chinchillas. These include, for example, somersaults, gnawing bars, stereotypical jumping or running up and down the bars, eating fur, and spinning. Therefore, the animals should be housed at least in pairs, but better in groups, e.g. B. same-sex groups (otherwise the males must be castrated before sexual maturity).

The animals are best socialized before they reach sexual maturity, as they can then develop intraspecific aggression. Chinchillas are very conservative animals, they do not like change. They are often anxious and sensitive to noise. This should be taken into account in the housing conditions. Spraying of anal gland secretion in male animals and urine marking in female animals are common unwanted behaviors.

Frequently Asked Question

Are chinchillas cute?

They often don’t become very trusting and generally don’t like being petted. Also, they only really wake up in the evening. The animals are therefore not suitable for children, but good for working people, since chinchillas can then sleep undisturbed during the day.

Can you pet a chinchilla?

Can you pet chinchillas? You can’t pet chinchillas like you can pet a dog or a cat. Also, most chinchillas do not like being carried and picked up.

Can chinchillas bite?

The chinchilla bites: everything that comes in front of the chinchilla’s nose is checked for edibility. Also, your finger when you put it in the cage. This test bite is completely natural and does not mean that the animal is vicious.

Do chinchillas become trusting?

Chinchillas are very curious and intelligent. Most become tame very quickly and can also be taken out of their enclosure. But be careful! Chinchillas have two fairly effective “weapons” against attackers, which they may use when they don’t want to be touched.

How do chinchillas become trusting?

Let your chinchilla explore your arms and legs while you sit. You can also offer treats during this time to evoke positive associations. It can take anywhere from two weeks to two months to successfully tame your chinchilla.

Why do chinchillas smell?

Like any other animal species, chinchillas also have their smell. Chinchillas themselves smell more like sand (assuming they always have a sand bath available, which they always should) and herbs. As far as the stench is concerned in general, the following applies: If you clean the cage regularly, chinchillas or chinchillas will stink.

Can you bathe the chinchilla?

Chinchillas cannot swim. Chinchillas should never be wet or “bathed”. Castration can bring already quarreling Chins together again. Castration does not change the psyche and physique of the chinchilla.

How old is the world’s oldest chinchilla?

The life expectancy of Chinchilla brevicaudata is over 20 years, while that of larger (our pets) is less. In his books, Bickel states a life expectancy of 18 years. In principle, an age of 15 years is to be rated as very positive!


Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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