Are you or someone in your family considering getting a chinchilla as a pet? Here you can find all the information you need to help you decide if this is the right pet for you.

What is a chinchilla?

A chinchilla is a type of rodent and a popular domestic pet. They have large ears, long tails and very soft fur. They grow to be around 30cm in length, and usually weigh around 500 to 700 grams. They come in various colours, from white, to grey to black. Some can even be light brown!

Where are chinchillas from?

Chinchillas originate from the rocky Andes Mountains of South America where it can get quite cold!

This means they can get very hot in the summer due to their thick fur, but this also means they can’t get fleas.

Find out how in the video below;

Where do chinchillas live?

In the wild chinchillas live on the side of mountains in ‘herds’ of up to 100! This means they are very good at climbing and jumping. Their name means ‘Little Chincha’ as they are named after the Chincha people of the Andes.

Chinchillas live on rocky mountains
Still taken from a video by Jess Percival

How old can chinchillas get?

Chinchillas can live for 10 to 20 years so you need to know you’re ready for the commitment!

Chinchillas can live for up to 20 years
Photo by Cameron Holmes

How do chinchillas keep clean?

Because of their thick fur, chinchillas can’t have a normal bath with water; instead they have a sand bath! This helps them remove any dirt that might be trapped in their fur.

You can see chinchillas taking a sand bath in the video below;

What do chinchillas eat?

Chinchillas have to have a special diet. Plain chinchilla pellets are great for them, as well as hay and the occasional shredded wheat as a treat!

They shouldn’t have any fruit or vegetables as their tummies are very sensitive and too much sugar can make them poorly.

What can chinchillas eat?

  • Pellets
  • Shredded Wheat
  • Dried Oats
  • Goji Berries

Shredded Wheat is a great treat!
Still taken from a video by Jess Percival

How can I house a chinchilla?

Chinchillas need to be kept in a large cage, with lots of ledges for them to jump on. They can jump up to 6 feet, so they need their cage to be tall!

They need a lot of wood to chew on, but no plastic as they WILL chew it even though it is bad for them.

Chinchillas don’t like being on their own so you must always keep them in groups of 2 or more.

Remember, it’s important to do lots of research before getting any pet! The RSPCA have a lot of great resources which you can find on their website

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Want to learn more? Check out our documentary, ChinChin, airing 24th May 2017

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