Meet our Chinchillas!
Machu Pichu is four years old. She has been with Tiny Tails since January 2010 when Chelsea started the zoo! Machu used to be quite the fashionable gal and was used for showing purposes. If you look closely, you’ll see she’s kept some of her fashion sense in the form of an “earring” (the mark of a show chinchilla). She is very curious and loves to make new human friends.
Houdini joined our family in 2011 and he’s spent every moment since keeping us on our toes. Houdini is quite the escape artist and will take any opportunity to go on an adventure, so we always have to keep an eye on him. He is super soft and super friendly and would love to come meet you!
Buttercup and Roo are both three years old. Roo is a very sweet recent addition to the zoo. Buttercup is a sweet chinchilla that always keeps her calm. Both love exploring the pen during petting zoos.
THINKING ABOUT BRINGING A CHINCHILLA INTO YOUR FAMILY?
- Chinchillas have a long life span. They can live from 15-20 years and sometimes even longer! It is important to decide if you will be able to care for your new friend for the next two decades.
- They require large cages as they are very active and like to run and jump. The smallest cage size should be 4’x3’x2’ but the bigger, the better. There should also be multiple solid platform levels for the chinchilla to jump to. Chinchillas can be housed together but you must give them a larger cage. Recycled paper bedding is ideal and should be changed at least once a week. Chins also enjoy dark, quiet places to relax, so providing them with a wooden breeder box or equivalent is a must.
- Chinchillas are very active and curious critters. They should be provided with an exercise wheel made from metal or plastic and given several toys. Chinchillas love to chew, so all toys should be non-toxic and safe for nibbles. Toys can be made from simple things like toilet paper or paper towel rolls: you can stuff them with hay and “hide” treats like raisins inside. Wooden blocks can be purchased at pet stores for the express purpose of chewing and wooden bird toys can also make fun, challenging toys for chins.
- Daily supervised play time outside the cage should be provided. Keep a close eye on your mischievous friend and make sure the area is chinchilla proof.
- Chinchillas are nocturnal and might keep you up at night with their running and playing if kept to near the bedroom.
- Because chinchillas like to chew, be careful what is next to the cage. If they can reach it, it will be chewed. This can be harmful both to your house and to the chin.
- You should get your new furry friend a water bottle that hangs from the side of the cage. It can be either plastic or glass. A heavy ceramic dish or metal clip on dish should be provided so your curious chin doesn’t knock it over. A chin’s main diet consists of dried pellets, but make sure you know which type of hay is the main ingredient. Also, make sure to purchase a food that does not have any other grains or dried fruits in it because these are considered treats and too many treats can make your chin sick. Treats should be given sparingly and include things like raisins, dried fruits, regular cheerios, and oats.
- Your chinchilla should always have access to hay. This helps keep their digestive system happy and their teeth ground down. Since most pellets are made from alfalfa hay, it is best to feed your chin grass hay such as Timothy, Brome, or Oat. Too much alfalfa can cause diarrhea. Hay can be fed loose or in cubes. At Tiny Tails, we use loose because it offers an additional “toy” for our chin friends.
- Since chinchillas have such thick fur, they are susceptible to overheating. Temperatures must be kept at no greater than 75°F. Their thick fur also makes it difficult for them to dry off, so chins take dust baths. Chinchilla dust can be purchased at pet stores and should be offered every other day in a bathing container. This keeps the chinchilla clean and happy.
Sadly, some people don’t take their chinchilla’s long life span into consideration when choosing one as a pet and are forced to later find new homes for their furry friends. Fortunately, there are some organizations that help:
- Vision Hills Sanctuary is located in Round Rock.
- Chinchilla Rescue.org is California based but has a growing number of contacts around the world.
- Forever Feisty Chinchilla is Connecticut based, but also has nation-wide contacts.
If you are considering purchasing a chinchilla, contact a rescue organization first and look into adopting one instead!
They can do what now?!
- Chinchillas are the softest animals in the world. Their hair is 30 times softer than human hair.
- While we have only one or two hairs per hair follicle, chinchillas have 50-70 making their fur too thick for fleas and it's the highest density of any land animal!
- Chin fur reduces dander and makes them hypo-allergenic.
- Their teeth are constantly growing throughout their lives, which is why they are such avid chewers.
- Chinchillas can jump up to five feet vertically and can run up to 15mph!
- They are known as the squirrel of the Andes Mountains due to their agility and speed.
- Unfortunately, chinchillas are endangered in the wild due to past over collection for use in the fur industry.
- Chins come in a variety of colors including gray, brown, and beige.
- The chinchilla’s closest relatives are the guinea pig and viscacha.