Does harvest, captive breeding, transport, or
being kept as a pet harm individual animals?
Significant Cause for Concern
Ease of care of many non-traditional pets depends on the individual owner’s years of experience and knowledge caring for a particular species. For the purposes of this website, we have geared information toward the benefit of the beginner.
Chinchillas have specific and demanding care requirements. They are very sensitive to heat, and temperatures above 80ºF can be hazardous to their health. Chinchillas also need daily attention and lots of exercise. Like most rodents they need to chew regularly to maintain their teeth, and if not monitored closely they can cause damage to themselves and to household items such as furniture, walls and baseboards, electrical wires, and plastic or metal objects. Chinchillas are social animals that need the company of other chinchillas, but they tend not to get along well with cats, dogs, and other household pets. Chinchillas cannot be bathed in water due to the thickness of their coat; instead they require frequent dust baths to maintain their soft fur. Animals in solitary confinement or without access to dust baths are susceptible to health problems, including a stress-related behavior where they chew their own fur off. Many owners find they cannot give a chinchilla the care it requires, and their pets end up in animal shelters or rescue societies.
Before purchasing a pet chinchilla, ask for proof that it is captive bred by a reputable ranch or breeder and make sure you are committed to caring for it for 20 years. Talk to your veterinarian about specific cage requirements and the best types of substrates to allow your chinchilla to chew on. Examine the chinchilla’s coat; it should be thick and shiny, with no bare patches.