Though chinchillas are soft, cute, appealing, and offer an interesting, different, and exotic option to potential pet owners, there is a growing problem with chinchilla owners who are not prepared for the type of care that they require.
According to the founder of NWI Chinchillas, Ashley Gajda, people have an inclination to buy a chinchilla pet on impulse, as a fad pet as opposed to researching what is required for their care. “They get the little fellows home and find they’re not quite what they expect.” NWI Chinchillas was established in 2003 as a rescue for these and other small exotic pets, to give the animals a place to go when their owners are incapable of caring for them and must surrender them.
Gajda explained that while people frequently believe that they will be receiving a sweet, cuddly lap-sitting pet, somewhat like a cat, they are often surprised to find that they are highly energetic and have no interest in remaining still and snuggling.
While Gajda – who is also a chinchilla breeder – has said that they are unlike other more traditional pets, they can still make wonderful companions for the right owners, who have done their research and are willing to give them the right kind of care.
Chinchillas are native to the Chilean and Argentinean Andes Mountains and are unable to withstand temperatures much warmer than 72 degrees. For that reason, they must live in very carefully climate controlled homes. They will not survive a home that is not air conditioned, as they can easily suffer heatstroke and die.
Owners must also understand that chinchillas are rodents, and as such, they have continually growing teeth. This means that they have a constant need to chew, to keep their teeth at the proper length. While providing wooden shelves in their cages, and chew toys made of wood and pumice is a great way to meet that need, it must also be recognized that their inclination to chew will take them right through anything plastic.
This not only harms their delicate digestive systems as they will ingest the plastic they chew, but it can also cause them to escape, allowing them to damage your possessions and suffer further harm.
A special dust-like product is required for baths for these animals in order to keep their fur free of mats and oils. Without these baths, many forms of skin condition can result.
These are only a few of the requirements for chinchilla care. Before adopting this kind of pet, it is vital that owners know them, and are certain that they can provide what is needed.