Chinchillas are small nocturnal mammals. They are native to the high Andes mountains of South America and are near extinction in the wild. Due to their fur being the most dense of any land animal, they have been farmed for their pelts.
However today they are also a popular adult companion pet.
While rarely liking to cuddle or be handled to any great degree, they will delight and amaze you with their agility, curiosity and intelligence. Most are willing to play with their humans for an hour or so every evening.
Chinchillas can be kept alone or in same sex pairs. In either case they are capable of forming strong attachments to their owner. With an average lifespan of 15 to 20+ years, they can be a long term companion- and commitment.
Unfortunately there is little scientific research available concerning chinchillas so any quick web search will yield a wide range of opinions as to their care and food. Most pet stores do little to alleviate this situation. The result is rarely the immediate death of the chinchilla, but rather a reduction in their well being and lifespan.
We adopt a conservative approach to their care that is backed up by many chinchilla owners’ experience and that of their veterinarians.
Chinchillas need large cages, a constant supply of western timothy hay, good treat-free pellets such as Oxbow or Mazuri brand and pure water (Reverse Osmosis). Because their teeth continue to grow throughout their lives, they need chew toys such as pumice stones, cholla wood and apple twigs.
Their intelligence also needs stimulation and a wide variety of safe toys can be purchased online or made of safe woods. NOLA Chinchilla Rescue makes some toys and builds some wooden structures that can be purchased in our Web Store. All proceeds are used for the rescue chinchillas' supplies and medical care.
NOTE: Chinchillas are very dependent on air conditioning and to a degree, humidity control.