Chinchillas are great pets and, as we thoroughly noted in our recent article, can get attached to their owner if they are treated with love and respect. So, if you plan on adopting a new pet and think that this furry rodent would be the perfect choice for you and your family, here are some interesting facts you should know, including how to find the perfect cage and the most nutritious chinchilla food.
They live longer than other rodents
Depending on the breed, most rodents like mice and hamsters don’t live for more than a few years. Even when compared to other mammals related to rodents, like rabbits, chinchillas tend to live a longer life.
While some rabbit breeds reach 9-10 years old, chinchillas can live well into their teens, for up to 20 years. However, research shows that in captivity, these furry rodents tend to live less and might develop some health problems.
We reckon this aspect should be carefully taken into account when adopting a new pet, as you have to be 100% sure you will have enough free time to dedicate to the new member of your family.
They can overheat
Chinchillas are amongst the animals with the thickest fur in the world, so they can withstand harsh winter temperatures without shaking or requiring an extra blanket. However, it is because of this that they are very sensitive to high humidity and heat, and should never be exposed to direct sunlight for a prolonged time.
Chinchillas prefer cool and dry environments, so make sure the temperature in their room doesn’t exceed 72-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The same rule applies when you need to transport these animals from one place to another. Keep in mind that they are quite sensitive and should be handled gently so that they won’t get stressed. Thus, make sure the cage is located in a cool and dry place, perhaps under the seat, and is never directly exposed to the sun for more than a few minutes. If this cannot be avoided, cover the cage with a thick yet breathable dark piece of cloth and turn on the A/C.
They have the softest fur
Chinchillas are exotic animals that were hunted for their fur by mountain tribes for hundreds of years. Their fur is incredibly soft and beautiful, and this is why many people still prefer natural fur coats at the expense of these poor creatures.
As opposed to the human follicle that grows no more than 3 hairs, a chinchilla’s fur can grow up to 80 hairs out of a single follicle. Thus, their thick fur is guaranteed to keep them warm even in the coldest winter days. Because of that, the chinchilla fur is genetically designed to resist parasite attacks by fleas.
Another great thing about their fur is that it comes in a great variety of colors, ranging from white and silver-grey to tan, black, and even violet.
They take dust baths
Every chinchilla lover knows that these small creatures should never be bathed in water as the fur won’t dry on its own and could cause serious fungal infections in time. If your pet gets wet by accident, you need to immediately dry its coat using a damp cloth or a hairdryer.
However, they do take dust baths, meaning they roll around in ground volcanic rocks or fine pumice to absorb the excess oils in their fur and remove all dirt and debris.
They are agile animals
Don’t be fooled by their pretty eyes and innocent looks, as these animals are natural athletes. They are agile creatures and can jump to heights up to 6 feet at once.
Chinchillas also developed an impressive defense mechanism where they are able to lose an impressive amount of fur when captured by another animal. By that, the animal manages to escape while the predator is left with nothing but a big pile of hair.
Another defense mechanism chinchillas have developed to get rid of predators is to spray urine when they feel in danger. Thus, it goes without saying that you should be careful whenever you try to surprise your furry pet, especially if it’s still in the adjustment period.
Chinchillas live in packs and they love the company of other individuals. They are very sociable and enjoy all the attention they can get. Thus, you should make sure your pet has plenty of mind-stimulating activities and things to do whenever you cannot keep it company, in order to avoid boredom and apathy.
Although they take their time until they fully accommodate their new homes, chinchillas will eventually grow very fond of their owners, so you’ll get a loving pet. As opposed to other rodents, female chinchillas will look after one another’s babies and even agree to feed them if their own mother cannot.
Males can be kept in the same cage as their pups without the risk of getting eaten, another type of behavior that other rodents don’t experience. However, it’s best to keep the opposite sexes in separate cages, especially in the mating season, especially if you don’t want to expand your family a couple of times a year.
They don’t see as we do
Although they have rather large eyes for their bodies, chinchillas don’t have great eyesight, which is probably why they prefer nighttime. However, they do have large whiskers that can reach up to half of the total length of their bodies, allowing them to feel things better.
In fact, since their pupils won’t allow enough light to pass through to the retina, chinchillas are practically blind in the daytime, which means they can run into walls or hurt themselves unless you are paying close attention to them.