Caring for your Chinchilla

Photo by feedough/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by feedough/iStock / Getty Images

Chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)


  • Grass hay (timothy, orchard) should be available at ALL TIMES

  • Commercial chinchilla pellets can be given along with hay (2-3 tbsp per day)

    • Chinchillas younger than 4 months of age should receive unlimited access to pellets

  • Treats should only make up no more than 10% of the total diet

Acceptable treats: Slice of apple/banana/carrot, raisins or dried fruit, veggies such as leaf lettuce, parsley, cilantro, kale (sugary treats should be given sparingly if at all)


  • Use a hanging water bottle

  • Change water daily and check that water sippers don't become clogged


  • Wooden blocks, paper towel rolls, non-toxic tree branches are good chewing toys

  • A large exercise wheel with a solid running surface may be provided


  • Chinchillas are very active and do best in a large, multi-level cage

  • Solid flooring (no grates) is necessary for all living spaces

  • Chinchillas do best when housed singly

  • Provide a hiding place that can be replaced or cleaned like a plastic igloo or cardboard box

  • Paper pulp or fleece bedding is appropriate (avoid wood shavings)

  • Chinchillas do not tolerate heat well and should not be subjected to temperatures over 80F





Dust Baths

  • Dust baths are essential to maintain coat and skin health

  • Provide access to a dust bath for 15 minutes 1-3 times per week

  • Provide a bath that is large enough for a chinchilla to roll around in

  • Any commercial chinchilla dust is appropriate

Handling and Behavior

  • The best way to handle a chinchilla is to grasp the base of the tail and rump in one hand and support the chest with the other

  • Chinchillas rarely bite

  • NEVER grab a chinchilla by the scruff

  • Chinchillas enjoy supervised cage-free time in a chinchilla-proofed area


  • Dental malocclusion is common-signs include decreased appetite, drooling, lethargy

  • Signs of respiratory disease- sneezing, nasal and eye discharge and crusts on the front legs

  • Diarrhea and constipation can occur secondary to inappropriate diet

  • Chinchillas are prone to overheating

  • Conjunctivitis (red, irritated eyes) can occur from dental disease or excessive dust exposure

  • Pet insurance is available through Nationwide Pet Insurance



  • All Creatures Animal Clinic:, 734-973-1884

  • Nationwide Pet Insurance: