Origin:Found in the snow covered Andes Mountains in South America.
Description:Chinchillas are a member of the rodent family. Chinchillas are nocturnal but will generally adapt to any play or feeding time. An adult chinchilla is approximately 10 to 12 inches in length and weighs from 14 to 20 ounces. Chinchillas may live up to 15 years in captivity.
Feeding:Chinchillas are mainly vegetarian. A good diet consists of a combination of hay and commercial chinchilla pellets. Fresh vegetables may be given as treats. Vegetables that may be included in their diet are broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots and corn. Try to offer a variety of vegetables since all chinchillas don't have the same preferences. Provide plenty of fresh water daily. A vitamin supplement may also be added to their diet.
Housing:Chinchillas should be housed in a wire cage. A wire cage with shelves allows them to climb and provides better air circulation. A wooden house or pieces of PVC pipe may be used to create a suitable environment for them to hide in. Chinchillas can exercise inside the cage and branches can be spread around so they can climb from one to the other. They really enjoy a wheel to run in. Chinchillas like to chew. It is recommended that they have lots of chew toys such as wooden blocks, bird toys, pumice stone, mineral stones and branches. In the cage tray bottom, wood shavings or aspen bedding provide a suitable material to help absorb moisture. Chinchillas are susceptible to heat stroke so don't allow their temperature to get over 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bonding:Chinchillas are very shy and have long memories. If you frighten them, they will remember and reject you until you regain their trust. Begin your bonding experience by feeding them treats through the cage bars and then later feeding treats from the palm of your hand inside the cage. Let the chinchilla come to you and slowly begin holding it. Do not squeeze it. Try to repeat these methods daily at night when the chinchillas are most active.
Dust Baths:Chinchillas are extremely clean animals. They groom their fur by taking a dust bath in a special dust. Place a suitable container filled with the dust in the cage 3-4 times per week for approximately 30 minutes. Without these dust baths, your chinchilla's coat will become oily and could mat.
S & S Exotic Animals, Inc., 1711 Connorvale, Houston, TX 77039 (281) 590-0426