Chinchillas

Because I realized that not everybody know what a chinchilla acutally is, here's a little profile for you:

Phylum: Chordata (Chorda-Tiere)

Sub-Phylum: Vertebrata (Wirbeltiere)

Class: Mammalia (Säugetiere)

Order: Rodentia (Nagetiere)

Family: Chinchillidae (Hasenmäuse)

Species: Chinchilla lanigera

Habitat:
Originally chinchillas are from the Andes Region around Chile, Peru as well as Bolivia and Argentinia, so their natural habitat are the barren mountain and semi-desert regions respectively.

Appearance and weight:
Chinchillas are bout 20-30 cm or 7.8-12 inches long and have an about 10-20 cm or 4-2.8 inches long bushy tail.

They are, expect for their big ears and bottom of their feet, fully covered with a very oft and extremely delicate fur, a reason they sadly are one "product" of the fur-industry.

Chinchillas weigh about 500-800 gr or about 1-2 pounds, which varries just like it does with humans according to the general size.

Reproduction, pregnancy and life expectation:
Chinchillas are sexually mature with about 4-5 month.

A female chinchilla comes on heat every 4 weeks and after the mating carries the offspring for about 111 days till it gives birth to about 1-4 rather high developed (fully covered in fur, eyes open) babies.

Chinchillas can turn, giving that their keeping is species-appropriate and with a bit of luck, up to 18-20 years of age, but this is no regularity due to their rather high vulnerability.

Keeping:
Well-spaced cages with a floor aria of 1x1 m or 0.4x0.4 inches are ideal for these litte rodents, and also the height of the cage should be around 1,20 m or about 50 inches.

Rule of thumb: bigger is better!

The cage should be equipped with fresh branches of e.g. willows or untreated apple-trees, because chinchillas as real rodents need them for trimming their teeth and satisfying their nibbling-urge at least a bit ;)

Diet:
Chinchilla need fresh hay as food and besides that special pellets imitating their barren way of life in their natural habitat.

Now and then they like to have a raising or a piece of dried untreated apple, banana or dried herbs.

But these are snacks and should be given very seldomly, especially raisins can be poisonous in to high amounts, so a 2-3 raisins per year (!) are enough!

What shouldn't be missing:
Of course a bowl for the pellets as well a place to put the hay is needed, so that it won't get filthy with urin, preventing that they might get sick.

Also a mineral- and/or a salt-stone to nibble on is not a bad idea, because this way the chinchillas can care for their supply with minerals themselves.

A water-bottle with enough, fresh boiled water shouldn't be missing.

I personally don't like water-bowls, because hay and litter falls in there all the time and the water becomes filthy.

Furthermore chinchillas need a bowl with special sand to care for their fur.

Chinchillas shouldn't get wet, because this way their delicate fur may become felted.

Some more things to mention:
Chinchillas are nocturnal, so one can approach their cage as from 8PM to clean, feed and care for the chinchillas.

Chinchillas should have a free walk in the flat or one room sometimes, but remember to mind their safety, because chinchillas try to nibble on everything that their little eyes see, even if it's not good for them (like cables, wires and (poisonous) plants etc.).

Chinchillas are not very cuddly, they can be tamed and petted but it's not the same with guinea pigs or rats with most of the chinchillas.

If you still have questions, just write me a mail and I try to answer them to the best of my knowledge and belief. If I myself have no answer to your question, I know some chinchilla-experienced people that surely do, and forward your question(s) to them.

Sooo, last but not least, I introduce to you my own chinchillas:

Pünktchen
Celia
Krümel