How to Care for Your Chinchilla

Are you considering bringing a chinchilla into your Indianapolis home? These beautiful furballs can be quite friendly and tame. They are very delicate, however, and have very specific needs, so you’ll want to do some research before deciding.

Here are some tips about chinchillas:

Handling Your Chinchilla

To ensure a friendly personality, chinchillas need frequent handling from the time they are babies. We recommend going through a reputable breeder, so you don’t end up with a chinchilla that hasn’t been properly socialized. If you want two chinchillas, get them both young, as this will help them bond. Be sure to handle your chinchilla every day, so he or she remains sociable. When you pick your chinchilla up, be sure to hold it so that its weight is supported on its back end.


Chinchillas are quite active, and love to climb, so you’ll want to get a tall cage with multiple levels. These little ones can be quite masterful escape artists. Make sure that cute little head can’t fit through the bars, as if your chinchilla can fit his head through, he’ll be able to get out. The bottom of the cage should be solid, so your new pet doesn’t get his feet caught in wires. Your chinchilla will also enjoy having a home of his own, so nesting boxes are strongly recommended. Give your chinchilla plenty of toys, and change them frequently, so he doesn’t get bored.

As far as bedding, avoid cedar or pine shavings, because these are often processed with chemicals that are bad for your chinchilla. Soiled bedding should be removed from the cage each day, and you’ll need to clean the cage thoroughly, using hot water, at least weekly. Your chinchilla will also need a dust bath for grooming. Make sure to use dust that is made specifically for chinchillas.


Chinchillas should always have hay available. Timothy hay is recommended. Alpine hay, orchard grass, blue grass, and prairie grass are also acceptable. Quality is more important than quantity, so don’t try to overcompensate for poor hay by feeding more of it. Keep the hay in a hanging rack so it doesn’t get soiled. Your chinchilla should also have pellets available at all times. Don’t use pellets made for other types of pets, and avoid those that contain fish oils, unless they also have choline and vitamin K listed with the ingredients. For treats, you can give your chinchilla dried rose hips, marshmallow root, blackberry leaves, and the occasional single raisin.

Please check with your Indianapolis vet with any questions about chinchilla care or behavior.

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