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Chinchillas as Pets

Domestic chinchillas can be kept as pets, but they are naturally skittish and are not considered to be good pets for small children as they have delicate bones and generally do not like to be held. Chinchillas live, on average, 15 years, but some have been known to live up to 20 or more.

Chinchillas make many noises, including barks, chirps, and squeaks. They have a different noise for every situation, from a calm, loving chirp given to a potential mate to a loud, aggressive bark when spooked. They can be housed with other chinchillas of the same sex as long as they don't fight.

Chinchilla

They need a large cage with many wood shelves to leap on. Toys can be added including hanging wooden toys, a large wheel (not made of mesh so their legs and toes don't get caught), or paper towel tubes. Wooden sticks and chew toys are also good options.

Plastic in the cage should be avoided at all times. Chinchillas are often voracious chewers and any ingested plastic can cause blockage in the intestines. As with most small animals, red cedar bedding should never be used due to its toxic nature.

The cage must have good air circulation. The chinchilla can not sweat, therefore, if temperatures go above 25°C (75°F), the chinchilla could get overheated and may suffer from heat stroke.

Chinchillas can be found in a variety of colors including the standard grey, beige, ebony, and many others. They instinctively clean their fur by taking dust baths several times a week, in which they roll around in a container full of special chinchilla dust made of sand or fine pumice. Chinchillas have no guard hairs so it is important a chinchilla never get wet because their fur retains the moisture and can grow fungus if not dried quickly with a blow dryer on a low, cool setting.

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Chinchillas have very sensitive digestive systems and cannot efficiently process fatty and sweet foods. A high quality, hay-based pellet and a constant supply of loose hay will sufficiently meet all of their dietary needs. A very occasional treat of a raisin or small piece of dried papaya are fine, but cannot be overdone. Fresh vegetables should be avoided as these can cause bloat in a chinchilla, which can be fatal. Nuts should be avoided due to their high fat content. A water bottle with fresh water should always be available.

Native environment

In their native habitat, chinchillas live in burrows or crevices in rocks. They are agile jumpers and can jump very high. Predators in the wild include hawks, skunks, felines, and canines. In the wild chinchillas have been observed eating plants, fruits, seeds, and small insects, though this diet would be dangerous for a domestic chinchilla whose diet has adapted to be primarily hay-based.

In nature, chinchillas live in colonies. Chinchilla females are significantly bigger than males. Chinchillas can breed any time of the year. At 111 days, they have a very long gestation period compared to other rodents. Due to this long pregnancy, chinchillas are born fully furred and with eyes open. Litters are usually small in number.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinchillas


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