Chinchillas originate from the Andes mountains are members of the rodent family. Chinchillas found in the wild are grey in colour but a wide variety of colours are available as pets.
Chinchillas prefer to be kept in a large wire cage with numerous levels. The wire aspect allows for good ventilation and the various levels allow chinchillas opportunities to climb which they are accustomed to in the wild.
Providing your pet chinchilla with toys and climbing accessories also allows them to engage in their natural behaviours which improves your pet’s environment.
Chinchilla cages often come with a solid or wire mesh floor. However, the wire mesh floor is preferable as it allows urine and faeces to fall below and away from your pet.
A ‘hide-out’ box placed within the cage also provides security and somewhere for your pet to feel safe as Chinchillas are quite shy by nature.
Pet chinchillas require a diet consisting of grasses, leaves, seeds and fruit. The majority of your pet chinchilla’s diet should consist of good quality, fresh meadow hay as a high fibre diet is essential to maintain healthy teeth and digestion.
A low fibre diet, such as commercially prepared Chinchilla pellets, can lead to a wide range of health problems for chinchillas including dental disease, gut stasis and fur chewing.
Fruits, such as pieces of apple or pear, and branches from fruit trees can be given as treats also.
Dental disease is one of the most common health problems seen in pet chinchillas and the primary cause of this is an inappropriate low fibre diet. As with all other rodents, chinchillas teeth are constantly growing and grazing on a highly fibrous diet is necessary to ensure the teeth are being worn down naturally thereby preventing dental problems.
A low fibre diet such as the feeding of foods high in sugar ( packet foods ) can disrupt the normal movement of the gut resulting in gut stasis in chinchillas where the gut stops functioning correctly.
Chinchillas are also prone to developing respiratory infections which are often caused by poor ventilation and immunosuppresion.
Should you require any further information on looking after pet chinchilla, please contact any of our team at Moycullen Vet Clinic and we will be happy to provide you with advice.