The chinchilla is a cute, furry rodent that originated in the Andes mountains of South America. Chinchillas' soft fur can be silver, beige, ebony, sapphire or white. Chinchillas weigh about 1 1/2 pounds. They are friendly and playful. Chinchillas are nocturnal, but they wake up several times a day to exercise, play and eat. They can not tolerate high heat and humidity. Caution should be used to make sure your pet does not get overheated.
Chinchillas are Chewers
Chinchillas are rodents and rodents must chew. Their teeth are always growing and chewing keeps their teeth trimmed down. Branches from non-toxic trees including apple, poplar and willow are good for chinchillas to gnaw on. Wooden chew toys made for parrots, cuttlefish bones, mineral stones and cholla are safe for chinchillas and easily found in pet stores. Do not give branches from cherry, wild cherry, walnut, cedar, plum, fresh pine or citrus trees to your chinchilla.
Chinchillas Love to Play
Chinchillas are playful and need exercise. A 15 inch wheel that has solid sides instead of spokes are fine for chinchillas. The kind with ball bearings works best. Remove the wheel from the cage if you have baby chinchillas to prevent injuries. Ladders and climbing platforms provide exercise and variety. Any climbing toy should be secure enough not to fall while your pet is climbing. Blocks are also fun for chinchillas to climb on.
Interacting With Your Chinchilla
The best time to play with your chinchilla is late afternoon or early evening. In a small enclosed place interact with him at the same time every day for between two and four hours. Move slowly and speak quietly to avoid startling him during playtimes. Chinchillas don't like change, a daily routine lets him know what to expect. With a little patience it's easy to bond with your chinchilla and teach him to do simple tricks.
Tricks to Try With Your Chinchilla
Offer food treats such as raisins to entice your chinchilla to perform. Start with getting him to hop onto your hand. Place your cupped hand in front of him. Use a raisin in your other hand to lead him into the cupped hand. Reward your chinchilla with the raisin and scratch him behind his ears. He can learn to roll a small ball or cardboard tube, jump onto a platform or run through a maze.
Chinchillas are Curious
Chinchillas are curious creatures. They will climb under and behind furniture, into open boxes and bags and anywhere else they can find. When they are playing on the floor keep them safe. Close all doors to other rooms and the outdoors. Chinchillas will chew electric cords, furniture, books, toys and anything else within their reach. They can fall down stairs and off of furniture. Do not leave your chinchilla unattended while he is loose.
Karen Mihaylo has been a writer since 2009. She has been a professional dog groomer since 1982 and is certified in canine massage therapy. Mihaylo holds an associate degree in human services from Delaware Technical and Community College.