Chinchilla FAQs

Q. Will my chinchilla's fur fall out if it gets wet?

A. No, most likely not. Chinchillas can “furslip”, which means they can release hair as a defense mechanism, so if say they got wet and were scared, they may lose some fur but water itself will not cause fur loss. If your chinchilla were to ever accidentally get wet be sure to thoroughly dry him to prevent fungus.

Q. Will my chinchilla get along with another chinchilla?

A. Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the individual chinchillas. If you get two or more chinchillas and decide to house them together, make sure you have backup cages in case one day they decide not to get along. Of course, if you have a male and females housed together be prepared for babies (kits). You will need a cage with small wire spacing (1/2″) and make sure to read up on chinchilla breeding and kit care.

Q. Do chinchillas like to be pet or held?

A. No, most chinchillas do not like to sit still to be held. Most will however tolerate small amounts of holding and/or petting. Some chinchillas do like to be scratched behind the ears or under their chin.

Q. How often do I have to let my chinchilla out to play?

A. You don’t have to let your chinchilla out at all however it can be fun to watch them hop and bounce off the walls and explore a new setting. Playtime is a great opportunity to bond with your chinchilla as he or she will probably use you for a launching pad while running around. Some people let their chinchillas out for several hours each day. Others let them out a few times per week and still others do not let them out at all. Just remember to chin-proof the room first and supervise your chinchilla when he or she is out of the cage.

Q. What size cage should I get?

A. The type and size of cage you use will be determined on how many chinchillas you have, how much room you have in your house for the cage (chinchillas should never be housed outside), and what cage you feel comfortable using. A cage should be a long term investment; it protects your chinchilla from dangers in your house as well as protects your house from your chinchilla. You should never buy a cheap cage; if you can’t afford a good sturdy well built cage, you should not buy a chinchilla. Most owners would agree that bigger is better, no cinchilla would turn down more room.

Q. Is my chinchilla male or female?

A. Place your chinchilla on a surface facing away from you. Hold the base of his tail and gently lift his back end up. Compare your chinchilla to the pictures below:

male female

Q. Why is my Chinchilla's fur all crazy?

A. There are several possible answers:

1. Your chinchilla could be priming. Priming is when the chinchilla gets new fur. This process first happens around 8-10 months of age and then a few times a year for the rest of the chinchilla’s life. During Priming, you may see little pieces of fur sticking up all over your chin’s back. It is a good idea to comb your chinchilla during and/or after priming; you will be able to remove a lot of fur.

2. Your chinchilla has slipped fur. As a defense mechanism, chinchillas are able to slip (or lose) their fur. If a predator is trying to catch a chinchilla, the chinchilla can slip fur and the predator is left with a mouthful of fur and the chinchilla can get away. Fur-slip can be a little amount or a lot. You can tell if the fur was slipped because it will have a white tip to it indicating it was live fur. The fur will grow back but takes about 3 months. Fur slipped from a tail takes longer to grow and can happen if your chin is trying to get away while your holding the base of his tail.

3. Your chinchilla or a cage mate has chewed his or her fur. Fur chewing is hereditary but some people also think it can be caused by something in the environment (stress). Sometimes a chinchilla will chew in cycles, or only under certain circumstances and others will chew continuously. A theory is that boredom brings on fur-chewing so make sure your chin has toys to chew. Do not breed fur-chewers.

4. If your chinchilla has fur loss with red irritated or dry scaly skin you will need to make an appointment with a veterinarian as your chinchilla probably has fungus (ringworm). You will need to isolate the chin from any others you have or treat all of them since fungus is easily spread.

Q. Help, my chinchilla had a baby! What do I do?

A. First off remove the male chinchilla if present, and make sure your female and baby/babies are in a cage with small enough wire spacing that the kits cannot escape (1/2″ x 1″). The mom will usually take care of the kits on her own. It is a good idea to have a gram scale and weigh the kits daily to make sure they are gaining weight (may take a few days for milk to come in) and not loosing weight. If the babies are not getting enough milk, you will need to supplement them with hand-feeding. Read How To Care For Baby Chins

Q. My female gave birth and died, how do I care for the babies?

A. The best thing you can do is to find a local chinchilla breeder who has a female that can adopt them. If a female had only one kit or recently weaned kits, it’s possible to foster out more kits for her to nurse. At the very least, another female may help keep the kits warm (which is VERY important) and they can be hand-fed. Trying to care for them, without the help of a female will be very difficult.

Q. If I get a baby chinchilla, will it bond better with me?

A. Every chinchilla has it’s own personality, some are naturally more interested in human contact regardless of age. Do not pass up an adult chin that needs a home simply because they are a little older, remember chinchillas can live a long time. Given time to adjust to new surroundings, an adult chinchilla can bond just as much as a young chinchilla. Not all young chinchillas will bond closely either, just depends on the individual.

Q. Should I get two chinchillas, won't one chinchilla get lonely by itself?

A. While chinchillas are naturally social animals, a single chinchilla can be happy; some even prefer it that way. If you do decide to get more than one, read up on introductions, and be prepared to have separate cages in case it doesn’t work out. Multiple chinchillas of the same sex will get along, so if you are not interested in breeding, be sure to get the same sex of chinchilla you already have.

Q. Why is my chinchilla eating it's poop?

A. Don’t worry it’s normal. Chinchillas have some special type of droppings called cecotropes that contain nutrients that they eat. Also happens with rabbits and other animals.

27 Comments

  1. I have a chin that I adopted, she came from a reersach lab so she’s very moody but she is getting better, sometimes she’ll let you pet her and other times she stands up and pees all over ya, just depends on her mood that day lol

  2. I’ve had several of them over the years, they are made out of a dluabre translucent plastic that from my experience chinchillas tend to not chew on. I’ve heard of it happening, but it doesn’t seem to happen too often. It’s really the only plastic product that I would generally consider safe for chinchillas. My advice is to give it a try and watch how your chinchilla reacts to it. If you notice any chewing, remove it and consider a non-plastic dust bath alternative, like the ones listed above.

  3. We have separated the male from the female and her babies. How long should we wait until we introduce the male to the kits?

    • There is not a set time limit or specific time to introduce them however be aware that if you are introducing dad to the kits AND mom, mom will have a weaning estrus so may have kits gain fairly soon.

  4. I have a chinchilla around a year old that refuses to eat or drink anything. He lays around most of the time. There aren’t any vets in our area that know much about chinchillas which is why I’m on here asking for help. If you could help me out by giving some advice, that would be amazing!

    • Hi Destiney, If you are positive he is not eating and especially not drinking and is lethargic, he NEEDS to go to a vet. If you haven’t already, check out the vet list on this site. Worst case, take him to a general small vet but he needs to see someone. If his digestive system has shut down, it’s difficult to get it going again. If you can find Oxbow Critical care anywhere near you, you can try feeding him that, usually you have to get it from a vet. If it’s just been a day that you haven’t seen him eating, I’d keep close watch on him but he may just be stressed or just not feelin his best and will perk up again tomorrow. But if it’s been several days since you noticed him eating or drinking anything please take him to a vet to get checked out.

  5. So I got what I thought was a male chin for my male chin for a cage mate. Ended up being female. My female is very submissive, but she was calling out to my male while in her cage. They sat next to each other in their respective cages peacefully and seemed to prefer it for as long as i watched them (which was awhile) I read they would make noises at each other, he didn’t make any noise, but she was doing her mating call like crazy! They are both over a year old. So later the next day (today) I put them on the floor together in a safe neutral spot and they did great, him mounting her as expected. Later that night I let explore one another cages and they didn’t even have one scuffle. Is it too soon to move them together?

    • Hi Rebekah, you can try putting them together. Just make sure to do it when you’ll be home all day to make sure they are okay. Some chinchillas get along so well they don’t really need an intro but it could be that she was in heat and receptive to the male so you’ll want to keep a close watch on them that she’s always okay with him.

  6. I have a chinchilla during six months and it didnt grow nothing , he has the same weight : around 156 grams. The veteterian has checked him and it didnt find anything wrong . Apparently is perfectly healthy , he eats , drinks , play , jump , etc . Someboody knows something about this kind of grow problem ?

  7. An elderly chinchilla from my daughters school came home for the summer with us and is now going to retire here. All is good except for him coming out of his cage. When we try to get him (?her?) out he kicks his legs, trys to hop away to the point we feel he is communicating he doesn’t want to get out of his cage so strongly that we let him not come out. The times we’ve made him come out he has released a bunch of fur. He is otherwise happy, likes finger sniffing thru his cage, makes happy nosies and eats well. But if it was me I’d go insane living in a cage I never got out of. How important is it for him to come out? Thanks for your time.

    • Dust. Use the dust bath. Put the dust bath container in the cage, then when he hops in, cover the opening and get him out for “playtime”. This will be the least stressful way to get him out. My boys don’t always want to come out even now at 11 years old. If his cage is low you can let him hop out on his own but beware I do think this can lead to biting on cage bars in an attempt to get out during other times and it’s annoying to listen to and probably not too great for their teeth.

      If he has a large cage, it probably isn’t life or death “necessary” for him to come out everyday but it sure would be nice to have a larger area to stretch his legs and really run. Not only is it good exercise, it’s good for mental stimulation to be able to explore new areas.

  8. I recently built a new cage for my chinchilla that is about a foot higher than the last one; but it also has a completely different set up. (two stories, 3 ladders, no sidewalls to hold in bedding) I moved all of her toys, housing, and hammock to the new cage just to make her feel like she’s not loosing her home; as well as new toys to fill in the empty space. I’ve read the chinchillas aren’t that good with change and this is her first new cage in 7 years, so I fear that she may not really want to do this. Is a fear of change something I should worry about and should I try to ease her into the new cage with the basic known techniques? (covering cage, calming music ect.)

    thanks

    • I’m sure she’s loving her new larger home! Please make sure your ladders are covered with a solid surface or remove them as they are not safe for chinchillas.

    • There really isn’t a way to know unless you know when they mated. Sometimes the female’s nipples will get longer, other times you cannot feel them. If you are weighing your chinchilla periodically, about a month before she delivers she’ll gain more weight (weight gain is chinchilla dependent though, like people some gain just the baby weight, others gain more) but there isn’t a way to know exactly how far along she is if you don’t know when she mated.

  9. While most of this is helpful, I just want to say that never letting your chin out of their cage can leave them depressed and weak. It’s best to take them out AT LEAST once a week for an hour or two. Best to let them out 2 or 3 times a week for a few hours.

    • As long as you are sure they are both boys, you don’t need to do anything. This is normal. The bigger boy is asserting his dominance over the smaller one; just letting him know who is the boss.

  10. I recently bought two lovely male chinchillas from a pet store and now about about 6/7 weeks they are fully settled and desperate to come out of they’re cage, however about a week after I got them I had a bad experience of one of them escaping and I had to turn my room upside down in order to catch it again which I know must have caused him grate stress! I would love to let them out again however I need to know how I can chinchilla proof my room? My bed is the main issue as it has a gap of about 4/5 inches which runs all around my bed any ideas how I can chinchilla proof this???

    • The easiest spot for me is the hallway because I can close all the doors and just need to block one entrance. The bed is a tough one, maybe you can cut cardboard to go around or get some wooden boards to block or just block off part of the room with a gate?

  11. I have a male chin that I’ve had for a little over 3 weeks now. After a day he was jumping on me and after the second day I let him have floor time, and he jumped in and out of his cage just fine (and all over me). After a week I started petting him and now he’ll allow you to stroke him. He nips a little bit sometimes but he’s never really bitten me. When I put him in a ball to run around in I always hold it up to the door and let him jump into it, and he will run all around the house and bump into our dog (who pretty much ignores him). The only problem I have with him is that after two weeks I noticed that when he gets scared he hides underneath his Kaytee Silent Spinner Wheel that is on the highest level of his cage. He squeezes himself underneath it. This leads to the issue; whenever I pick him up (I’ve done it for a few seconds several times a day for the past 3 days) he freaks out and his head shakes back and forth, then he’ll get quiet before he tries to squirm out of my hands again. I’ll put him back and he’ll come to me again, but after a little while he’ll squeeze underneath his wheel and it almost seems like he’s going to sleep because he stretches out and closes his eyes, but because I know he goes under there when he’s scared I’m worried that he’s doing it for some other reason I don’t know about. He’s only done it since I’ve started trying to get him used to being held and I’m worried that I’m overwhelming him.

    • Sounds like you are doing great with him! I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Does he have a hide house? If not, I’d suggest getting him one. CHins always like sitting up on the top shelf though. My boys like to sit under their wheel too.

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