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Intro to Chinchillas

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Chinchillas are small nocturnal mammals.

They are native to the high Andes Mountains of South America and are near extinction in the wild.

Due to their fur being the densest of any land animal, they have been farmed for their pelts. However, today a chinchilla is also a popular companion pet for adults.

While rarely liking to cuddle or be handled to any great degree, they will delight and amaze you with their agility, curiosity and intelligence.  

Most are willing to play with their humans for an hour or so every evening.

Chinchillas can be kept alone or in same sex pairs. In either case they are capable of forming strong attachments to their owner.

With an average lifespan of 15 to 20+ years, they can be a long-term companion and commitment.


Unfortunately there is little scientific research available concerning chinchillas so any quick web search will yield a wide range of opinions as to their care and food. Most pet stores do little to alleviate this situation.  The result is rarely the immediate death of the chinchilla, but rather a reduction in their well being and lifespan.

We adopt a conservative approach to their care that is backed up by many chinchilla owners’ experience and that of their veterinarians.


Chinchillas need large cages, a constant supply of western timothy hay, good treat-free pellets such as Oxbow or Mazuri brand and pure water (Reverse Osmosis). Because their teeth continue to grow throughout their lives, they need chew toys such as pumice stones, cholla wood and apple twigs. Their intelligence also needs stimulation and a wide variety of safe toys can be purchased online or made of safe woods.


NOLA Chinchilla Rescue makes some toys and builds some wooden structures that can be purchased in our Web Shop.

All proceeds are used for the rescue chinchillas' supplies and medical care.

NOTE: Chinchillas are very dependent on air conditioning and to a degree, humidity control.

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 Basic Care   (Basico Cuidar...vea abajo)

1. Chins can overheat and die at temperatures as low as 80F (27C), so temperature must be controlled. 75F (24C) is towards the top end of safety and it should be <70F (21C) for playtime. High humidity can also be dangerous.


2. Chinchillas need large (approximately 2'x2'x4') (.7m x .7m x 1.4m) plastic free cages with a 14"-16" (.4m) exercise wheel (we only use the Quality Cages 15" Chinspin) as well as wooden shelves, ledges and hidey house. Wire ramps and hay bins can be dangerous and should be removed. While there are cages designed for chinchillas, many pet store cages can be converted into safe homes.


3. Chinchillas should always have fresh western timothy hay. It is the most important part of their diet. In addition, orchard grass and other grass hays can be fed in limited amounts for variety. Chinchillas less than a year old should also be fed alfalfa hay. Oxbow Essential Chinchilla Food, Small Pet Select, Sierra Valley and KMS Hayloft are recommended.


4. For adult chinchillas, feed about 2 tablespoons (30g) of treat-free, alfalfa based pellets per day, changed daily. Oxbow Essentials Chinchilla Food is recommended. Chinchillas less than a year old should have unlimited pellets. Diet changes must occur slowly. We do not recommend any fresh or dried fruit or vegetables. We specifically recommend against feeding nuts, seeds or raisins to a chinchilla.


5. To prevent giardia and other parasites, provide pure water: R/O (purified by reverse osmosis), or from a Pur 3 or Brita faucet (only) filter, in an 8 oz (250ml) glass bottle. The bottle should be cleaned regularly in the dishwasher or by hand and rinsed thoroughly. A brush may be necessary to clean the spout. Most bottled waters and most filters do not remove parasites to a level that will not potentially harm a chinchilla.


6. Give your chinchilla a dust bath every other day outside of the cage for a few minutes each time. Do not leave the dust bath in the cage. Fecal pellets can be sifted from the dust and the dust reused until it no longer dusts up. If the chinchilla urinates in the dust, dump the bath out and clean the container before refilling. Scented dust may be harmful. Chill Dust and Blue Sparkle dusts are recommended.


7. Treats should be limited to 1 a day. Chins do not need sugar treats (raisins), fruits or vegetables and some of these can be very harmful. Based on evidence that milled grains can inhibit the adsorption of calcium we now recommend only safe wood chew sticks (apple, pear, willow, pecan), whole oats (horse feed) and timothy hay (no flour) baked treats (homemade or Oxbows Simple Rewards timothy treats).


8. The only recommended supplement, unless ordered by a veterinarian, is organic rosehips, either whole or pieces (cut and sifted).


9. Safe untreated wooden chew toys, pumice stones, and the like should always be available.


10. There should be no cross species contact, especially with hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and horses.


11. Handle with care. Their bones are easily broken. Make sure the back feet are supported. Some chins are not fond of being held and, if grabbed improperly, their fur can come out in clumps (fur slip). It will grow back.


12. Chinchillas are nocturnal and prefer to sleep undisturbed in a quiet room during the day.


13. Chins should see a veterinarian with chinchilla experience yearly.


14. Male chins need a monthly hair ring check. The male can get a ring of hair around the base of their penis. Much of the time they can clean these off themselves but sometimes they cannot. If left, the ring can cause medical issues including a prolapse so we recommend that a check be done at least monthly.

The penis needs to be extended completely from its sheath and any hair wrapped around it gently removed.

Females should be checked for vaginal secretions.

 Basico Cuidar de Chinchillas


1.  Chinchillas pueden estar demasiado calientes y morirán a temperaturas cerca 80F grados.  Por esto, acondicionador de aire debe ser utilizado.  75F grados o menos es seguro y bajo 70F grados para jugar.  Alta humedad es peligrosa, también.  


2.  Chinchillas necesitan grandes (aproximadamente 2’x2’x4’) jaulas sin no plástico con una rueda de ejercicio de 14-16 pulgadas, estantes de madera, y una casa de madera.  Rampas de alambre y recipientes de heno pueden ser peligrosos y deben eliminarse.  Hay jaulas diseñadas para chinchillas, muchasa jaulas de tienda pueden ser convertidas seguras.  


3. Para chinchillas adultas, alimente diariamente 2-3 cucharones de comidas alfalfa sin pepitas y frutas.  Recomendamos “Oxbow Essentials Chinchilla Food.”  Es un producto superior que está disponible en línea y de la mayoría Petsmarts. Chinchillas que tienen menos de un año deben tener comida ilimitada.  Cambios en la dieta deben ocurrir lentamente.  No recomendamos ninguna fruta o verduras frescas o secas.  No son necesarios.  Nunca le dé frutos secos, semillas o pasas a una chinchilla.


4.  Las chinchillas siempre deben tener heno fresco Timoteo occidental (Western Timothy Hay). Pasto ovillo (Orchard Grass) y otras hays hierba pueden ser alimentados en cantidades limitadas para la variedad.  Chinchillas que tienen menos de un año se deben alimentar también heno de alfalfa.  “Oxbow” (disponible en Petsmart), “Small Pet Select” y “KMS Hayloft” son recomendados.  


5.  Para prevenir la enfermedad llamada “giardia”, proporcionar agua purificada a través de osmosis inversa, o una “Pur 3” o “Brita” filtro para el grifo, en una botella de cristal de 8 onzas.  La botella se debe ser lavada en la lavavajillas o a mano y enjuagar completamente.  


6.  Dé a su chinchilla un baño del polvo cada dos días fuera de la jaula para unos minutos cada vez.    No deje el baño de polvo en la jaula.  Materia fecal puede ser tamizada del polvo y el polvo puede ser reutilizado hasta que ya no es polvoriento.  Si la chinchilla orina en el polvo, el vaciar la bañera y limpie el recipient antes de rellenar. Polvo perfumado puede ser prejudicial. Recomendamos el polvo Chill Dust.


 7.  Tentempiés deben ser  limitarse a uno un dia.  Chinchillas no necesitan  dulces (uva pasas), frutas o vegetales porque algunos no son seguros.  Granos molidos pueden inhibir la absorción de calico.  Por lo tanto, recomendamos seguros palitos de madera (manzana, sauce, pacanas), avena entera (comida del caballo), y bocadillos horneados con heno timothy en lugar de harina (caseras o “Oxbows Simple Rewards” tentempiés de timothy.)  


8.  Chinchillas que tienen menos de 6 meses no deben tener tentempiés.  


9.  Juguetes seguros de maderas, piedras pómezes y juguetes similar deben estar siempre disponible.  


10.  No deben ser contacto con otros especies animals, especialmente con hámsteres, conejillos de Indias, conejos y caballos.  


11.  Tenga mucho cuidado al manipular las chinchillas.  Sus huesos se rompen fácilmente.  Siempre apoye sus pies posteriores. Algunos las chinchillas no gusta retenidos, y si tomó indebidamente, su pelaje puede salir en grupos (piel del resbalón). Te volverá a crecer.  


12.  Las chinchillas son nocturnas y prefieren dormir tranquilamente durante el día.  


13.  Anualmente, las Chinchillas deben visitar a un veterinario con experiencia con chinchillas.  


14.  Las chinchillas machos necesitan un cheque mensual de pelo-anillo. El hombre puede conseguir un anillo de piel alrededor de la base de su pene.  Mucho del tiempo pueden limpiar estos mismos pero a veces no pueden.  Si se ignoran, el anillo puede causar un prolapse, así que recomendamos que se haga por lo menos mensualmente un cheque.  El pene debe extenderse completamente de su vaina y cualquier pelo envuelto alrededor de él, eliminado. Las hembras deben revisarse las secreciones vaginales.  


Traducido por Rebecca Bernhardt


for a well-equipped chin home:

___ Cage (wood stand, shelves, ledges, pans, bedding)

___ Wire carrier

___ Wire Travel cage

___ Chinspin exercise wheel

___ Wooden hidey house

___ Chill pad or tiles

___ Dust bath and dust 

___ Water bottles – 2 x Lixit 8 oz for singles, 2 x 16 oz for multiple chins (1 spare)

___ Bottle brushes – 1 for the water bottle, 1 for inside the spout

___ Pur 3 water filter, Brita faucet filter or R/O water

___ Pellet Food bowl – small ceramic

___ Hay container – wood hay bin, 4” flowerpot or similar. Avoid plastic or wire racks

___ Oxbow Essentials Chinchilla Food (red bag) 5 lbs. = 2-3 months; have a spare bag as supplies are not always certain.

___ Oxbow western timothy hay – 40 oz. bag lasts 1 chin 1 month.

          Never run out. Hay is good for 2 years if stored properly.

___ Scale for weighing in grams

___ Kabob hanging toy

___ Chew stuff – pumice stones, blue cloud rocks, cholla logs, etc.

___ Rose hips (a supplement)

___ Organic apple and pear wood chews 

___ Cardboard Tubes, boxes, wood climbing toys, etc., for play time 

___ First aid kit: baby liquid gas drops, syringe for oral use only

___ Exotic veterinarian and emergency vet: names, phone # and addresses with map

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