A QUICK FACT SHEET
BY: JILL M. PATT, DVM
NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: South American Rodent
LIFESPAN: 15+ years
SEXING: Males: the penis is separated from the anus by a small space of skin Females: the vaginal opening is immediately adjacent to the anus
HOUSING: A flat bottom cage is safest for their toes and feet but will require much more diligent cleaning. Wood shavings are not recommended for rodents and the best choice for bedding is hay or recycled newspaper pellets. The cage should be the largest that you have room for and the use of a multiple level cage will increase their area of activity. Chinchillas are very active animals and are most active at night. They should be provided with monitored time out of the cage daily to allow them to run and play. A chinchilla wheel should always be available in the cage. A typical rabbit water bottle and food bowl should also be provided. Also, a hide box should be provided to allow them a feeling of security and a means of escaping if startled or stressed
NEUTER: Male chinchillas should be neutered to prevent reproduction & aggression.
DUST BATH: All chinchillas should be allowed access to a dust bath on a regular basis. Special chinchilla dust can be purchased at most pet shops and should be provided daily in a container. Common containers are litter boxes (covered work well) and large mouthed class jars big enough for the chinchillas to freely move around in. The container should be removed after the bath. Chinchillas have a very thick coat that does not dry quickly when wet. Dusting is their way of having a water free bath. Dusting allows them to remove oil and debris from their coats and truly seems to be a source of enjoyment.
DIET: Chinchillas have a sensitive gastrointestinal tract and should be given a routine diet that doesn’t vary on a daily basis. I recommend feeding them a mixture of chinchilla pellets, grass hay and some alfalfa hay for additional calcium.
WATER: Fresh clean water should always be available.
SUPPLEMENTS: It remains undetermined as to whether or not chinchillas can make their own vitamin C. The safest course of action is to supplement their diet with a chewable vitamin C tablet of about 100-200mg/day. A calcium supplement may also be needed if the diet is low in calcium or for pregnancy.
MEDICAL CONCERNS: Heat stress, dental disease, skin/fur disease, respiratory infections, eye infections, leg trauma and fractures
FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr. Jill M. Patt’s web site at: www.littlecrittersvet.com