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Is chinchilla the right pet for you?


Characteristics of the chinchilla

11 reasons chinchillas make great pets

10 reasons chinchillas make terrible pets





Before getting a chinchilla or any other pet, it is important to do your homework. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting into; learn about both the pros and the cons of owning a certain creature before diving head first into ownership. Pet ownership is a lifetime commitment (the lifetime of the animal); it is very rewarding but you are also responsible for the life and happiness of an animal. So think carefully and do your homework and you can enjoy years of companionship with your pet.

Chinchillas, like all other pets, require time, energy, and money to keep happy and healthy. Deciding to get a chinchilla (or any other pet) is a big decision that should be made by all who will be affected by the animal. Besides the initial investment in a chinchilla, a cage, and other equipment, your chinchilla will need daily care and attention. Before getting any animal you need to consider if you will have the time and energy required to be a pet owner.

Chinchillas make great pets, but there are a few things to consider before acquiring one.

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  1. Amongst the rodents’ family, chinchillas are undoubtedly the friendliest and most charming. They are adorable and gentle creatures. They make wonderful pets just as hamsters and guinea pigs do. They are sweet, loving, comical and very personable. Chinchillas appear to enjoy human contact and often enjoy a scratch or hug;
  2. They require little attention, but they appreciate attention when shown to them;
  3. They keep themselves very clean. In fact, they are practically odourless;
  4. Their fur is so thick that fleas and ticks can't live on them. They have incredibly thick fur which is very soft. They've got 60-100 hairs per follicle, compared to 1-2 on a human!
  5. They are quiet. In general they love their cage; they feel safe in it. They won’t try to escape each time you’ll open the cage’s door;
  6. They are easy to care for and can be left alone over a weekend;
  7. Their food is very inexpensive (only about € 2 per month);
  8. They are nocturnal so they are ready to play when you get home from work;
  9. Many people who are allergic to most animals are not allergic to Chinchillas;
  10. They are smart, curious and extremely entertaining;
  11. Generally chinchillas don't bite out of malice. They are not aggressive, unless they experienced something wrong with humans or simply when feel in danger. 

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  1. Don't get a chinchilla unless you're prepared to spend a lot of money up front! The chinchillas themselves are expensive, and they also need a decent sized cage to live in, and they don't come cheap. A typical pet-store variety grey chinchilla can run about € 80 or so. If you want a mutation colour (white, mosaic, beige, charcoal, etc.) you won't spend less than € 100. You can't go to the pet store and spend € 30 in setup materials and have a pet that you only deal with for one year or so;
  2. Under general proper care chinchillas can live to be 10, 15, and yes, even 20 years old. If you want a chinchilla because it seems easier than a dog or cat, you will want to reconsider;
  3. Do you have sufficient space for a chinchilla’s cage? Do you have room for it to run? A single chin’s cage should be at least 60 cm long X 60 cm wide.  Still, this is a bit on the snug side. If you have a cage this small, plan on letting your chin run outside the cage more often;
  4. They don't come when you call them (and they can't fetch either). They always run to their cage doors at the sound of our voices. Of course, they hope you have a sweet treat. Chinchillas are generally not teachable and/or trainable like dogs.  Do not expect them to respond to commands or to learn tricks. Chinchilla can never be as tame nor become as friendly as a guinea pig. Chinchillas are friendly pets when they learn to trust you well.  This will take a lot of time and patience. Even when the chinchilla is completely tame, it will only think that cuddling is interesting for a limited period of time - it has its own will which must be respected. The chinchilla is very curious and energetic. It will probably prefer running around and exploiting the surroundings than lying on your lap purring like a cat (which it by the way doesn't even know how to do - purring that is). Thus chinchillas are not meant for petting.  They do and WILL bite if threatened. Chinchillas do not make good pets for children;
  5. They cannot be taken outside for walks (like a dog);
  6. They are mainly active at night; they bounce, bark, squeal, and rattle cages when you are asleep. Moreover, someone wanting an alert companion during the day might be disappointed. They anyway can neither scare away a burglar during the night. Being a nocturnal animal, chinchillas need to be protected from noise and family activity in the daytime;
  7. They can't be left to run the house unattended, partly to avoid that it is being hurt and partly to avoid damage to the surroundings: they poop whenever and wherever and they chew your furniture, books and other equipments. Unfortunately, a chinchilla can not be thought good manners;
  8. Ever had a dust bath? Ever been in a room after a dust bath took place?  Chinchillas require dust baths on a regular basis to absorb oil from their fur;
  9. They don't like to be squeezed too hard, but they feel safe when hugged;
  10. Don't just get one chinchilla if you're going to be out of the house all day. They do need company - otherwise they get bored. Do think about the amount of time you'll be able to spend with your chinchilla. They need at least an hour a day for handling, play and to get them tame. Don't get a chinchilla if you get bored easily. They live a long time, sometimes to over twenty years!

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