The chinchilla is not an easy-peasy, casual, low maintenance pet. Caring for one is truly a labor of love. I consider pet chinchillas the bonsai tree or the prima donna of the pet world, because like a bonsai tree and the prima donna, the require constant attention, resources, and accommodations.
The following are some questions to ask yourself if you are considering owing a chinchilla.
1. Do you know of a veterinarian in your area that deals with exotic pets such as chinchillas?
Chinchillas are very fragile and sensitive creatures and when they get sick, they get sick! Don’t waste your time reading articles on the internet or in books when you know or think your chinchilla has become sick. Diagnosing and curing a chinchilla is a job for vets and vets only.
2. Do you have time and money?
Chinchillas are not cheap creatures. From their purchase (which is around $100 for baby chinchillas) to their maintenance, a chinchilla will set you back in both time and money. When you get a chinchilla, you also need to get a proper cage, food, cleaning dust, bottled water, veterinary visits, and find a proper place in your house to put them in. Then there’s time, you need a lot of it, especially considering chinchillas live for 15-30 years. And for those whole 15-30 years they’re going to require a great deal of care and attention, from feeding to bathing.
3. Are you noisy or live in a noisy environment?
Chinchillas are prey animals and get very scared, very easily. Loud noises can disturb a chinchilla greatly
4. Are you patient?
In addition to having to spend a lot of time taking care of a pet chinchilla, you’ll also need patience. It might takes days for a chinchilla to become comfortable with you. Since they have delicate bones, you mustn’t hit, grab, shake, or squeeze a chinchilla. Chinchillas are also highly energetic and like to run all over the place.
5. Do you have other pets?
Chinchillas cannot be caged with other animals.
6. Are you allergic to fur or animal hair?
Chinchillas have some of the softest and thickest coats, which unfortunately makes them highly sought after for coats and accessories.
7. Do you have any small children?
Children will immediately want to hold and pet and play with the chinchilla, and you can’t blame them, they are after all some of the cutest, most cuddly creatures. But since they are also so fragile, their can carelessly injure or even kill a chinchilla by trying to play with it.
Now, I’m not trying to scare you into not getting your very own chinchilla, I’m just letting you know what you’re in for if you do get one. Chinchillas as pets are most fitting for responsible caretakers who really love animals and can also be a real challenge, but they are perhaps some of the most cutest and playful animals you’ll ever see. But like I said before, care for a chinchilla truly is a labour of love.