The day to day cost involved in keeping a chinchilla is very little however there is a larger initial cost.
First off is the cost of the chinchilla, which can vary widely depending on where you live and where you get the chinchilla from, and what color you choose.
Typically pet stores charge $150 or more for a standard gray chinchilla; usually more for colored chins if they even sell them. Breeders typically start around the same price, although in areas with lots of chinchillas, the price can be as low as $80 for a standard. Breeders often times also take pedigree or fur quality into consideration when pricing the chinchillas, so a show quality chinchilla (or one that comes from show champ parents) may cost more than a non-show line chinchilla. Rescues often adopt chins out at lesser fees than breeders, and sometimes even include a cage which can greatly reduce your start up costs-do realize that rescues do not give away chinchillas for free and the adoption fee helps cover food and any vet visits and care while at the rescue. You can also sometimes find chinchillas in local classifieds, with or without a cage for usually less than the cost from a pet store and sometimes the price can be negotiated.
Besides the chinchilla itself, the cage is the most expensive item needed. A good quality sturdy cage may cost even more than the chinchilla. To cut costs, you can look for a used cage in good condition; just make sure to thoroughly clean it before use. Never sacrifice quality for cost! Also factor in any modifications the cage may need-new pans, wood shelves, or higher sides to keep litter in.
Every chinchilla should have a hide house of some sort. How many tunnels, hammocks, or other cage accessories you buy are up to you. The more toys the better!
As mentioned above, the continuing cost of owning a chinchilla is relatively low. Food, hay, dust, and litter cost about $50-60 per 3 months. Chew toys will need to be replaced. I’d budget a minimum of $15 a month. It is hard to predict how often you will need new toys as some chins chew more than others and it will also depend on what type of chew toys you purchase; I’ve had some last a year and others last a few hours.
Veterinarians can be expensive so it is a good idea to have a vet fund especially should an emergency come up; vet visits are not cheap! Normal visits typically run about $50, while emergency after hours visits start at about $100 to just walk in the door.
Costs broken down:
- chinchilla $80-$350
- cage (new) $100-$250
- accessories/toys $100
- bag of food & hay $20
- container of dust $8
- bag of litter $5-15 depending on kind
- vet fund $100 minimum
total start up costs $413-$843
on-going costs (food, hay, dust, toys, litter) about $35 per month
** Note these figures are approximations of the cost of owning 1 chinchilla and may differ depending on your location. **
Ideas for keeping costs down:
- Buy litter in bulk and not in the small animal aisle at the Petstore. Yesterday’s news can be used and is cheaper in the cat section. Pine or Aspen shavings can be bought in large bags. Pine pellets for horses work relatively well and you can get a big bag for about $5
- Buy bulk hay, if stored properly hay will last about a year. If you know someone who has horses, see if they can get you part of a bale, it will be much cheaper than the pet store. Beware of buying a full bale, that is a huge amount of hay.