Chinchillas can be cute, fun, and entertaining pets, but they do require a certain specific living environment and special care in order to make sure that they remain happy and healthy throughout their lives.
While their popularity as pets is on the rise, the requirements for chinchilla care are not yet widely known. Many people who adopt these pets believe that they are similar to other animals – such as dogs, cats, or even rabbits or guinea pigs – and try to treat them in a similar fashion. Unfortunately, this can lead to disaster, as chins are sensitive little creatures that have unique needs that won’t be met if they’re treated like any other animal.
That said, chinchillas are quite easy to care for, once you know what you’re doing. As long as the basic care needs are properly maintained, most health and safety problems can be avoided.
One of the most prominent behaviors of chinchillas is chewing. This is a necessity. As rodents, they have teeth that are continually growing. They chew not only to ingest food, but also to keep the length of their teeth filed to a proper length and to stop them from over-growing (which can lead to many health problems and will require the teeth to be professionally clipped by a veterinarian).
That said, chinchillas are not highly discriminating regarding what they will choose to chew – whether it’s safe for them or not. As a rule, you should consider only natural pumice and untreated wood to be safe for your chins. Use the following tips to help guide you to design a safe environment for your chinchillas’ chewing needs.
1. Use a spray, cover, or block off baseboards, furniture, or anything else made out of wood, as your chinchillas will make quick work of chewing them up. They won’t just gnaw a few bites, but will do significant damage. Moreover any paint or wood treatments will be hazardous to the health of your pets.
2. Chinchillas won’t just chew wood. They’ll also chew carpet, wires, plastic, boxes, toys, clothing, or anything else they can get their paws on.
3. Check the play space for any holes or gaps that will allow them to escape, slip behind furniture, or even climb inside furniture such as a box spring or an entertainment center. They may look quite large, but they can fit through an exceptionally small space.